Well, we’re almost at the end of the Hans Hoogervorst era…
As you’re probably aware, if you’re interested in the subject matter of this blog, he will be replaced in July by Prof Dr Andreas Barckow, formerly President of the Accounting Standards Committee of Germany. I previously provided exclusive access to a sampling of the communication between Dr Barckow and Chair Hoogervorst, which may have gone some small way toward indicating the different tone that may prevail under the new regime. As a continuation of my commitment to public service, and courtesy of my mole at the IASB, I’d like to present a further extract of their video-call conversations today. Because of the potentially inflammatory nature of some exchanges, I’ve taken the liberty of redacting certain passages.
Andreas Barckow: Hans, how are you? It’s great to see you again.
Hans Hoogervorst: Barcky my boy! You’re lucky I had time to fit you in.
AB: Indeed, I’m always glad when you have time in your busy schedule.
HH: I’m just joking Barcky! I’ve hardly had anything to do for months, even by the usual standards of “working from home.” All those calls I used to have with people asking for favours, trying to cut deals, offering bribes, they’ve all evaporated. People know I can’t do a thing for them anymore.
AB: You must miss all the interaction though.
HH: I miss the small portion of it that did anything to make my life better. A lot of the people you hear from are just plain (redacted).
AB: I don’t know if you should describe our stakeholders that way Hans. I find it’s better if you look for the good in everyone.
HH: Maybe it works that way when you’re chairing your little national standard-setter, but it won’t get you anywhere here. If these users had any good in them, they wouldn’t have gone into accountancy.
AB: I doubt you can say that Hans. Don’t you believe accounting and financial reporting are a worthy calling?
HH: I’ll tell you what I believe. Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach accounting. And those who can’t teach accounting, practice accounting.
AB: I had no idea your views were so grim. Why did you accept the job in the first place then?
HH: For the greater good, Barcky! Better me than any of those other ass-wipes they were considering at the time. Same reason you got the call this time. All I ever wanted to do in life was get blind drunk and (redacted). But I had to put my dreams on hold. I’ll tell you though, they won’t be on hold for much longer!
AB: Maybe that relates to the thing I wanted to ask – what in the world are you wearing?
HH: It’s my night-life outfit! When you called I was practicing my special dance step – the Hoog. Time to break it out again, as soon as lockdowns end.
AB: But don’t you think a former Chair of the IASB should conduct himself in retirement with restraint and dignity?
AB: All right, I only asked. Surely there are things you’ll miss though. Won’t you have any regret at not seeing the principles of disclosure project through to the end?
HH: I’ll tell you the only principle of disclosure I’ll be interested in – what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Or Amsterdam. Or wherever I might be up all night doing the Hoog.
AB: I’m quite sure you would have liked to solve the disclosure overload problem before bowing out.
HH: I’ll tell you how I’m going to solve it as far as I’m concerned – by never looking at a set of financial statements again.
AB: Although I’m quite sure you’re joking Hans, I sometimes do wonder…
HH: Blah blah blah. Save it for the speeches Barcky. I’ll tell you the only thing you need to care about from this day on – saving your own ass. And believe me, plenty of people will be using it as a target.
AB: Well, Hans, as Margaret Thatcher said on winning office, where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we –
HH: Where there is an IASB meeting, may we bring our layers of protective shielding. Harmony, truth? You’re an even bigger geek than I thought you were.
AB: Well, guilty as charged I suppose.
HH: But don’t worry about it Barcky, they’re going to love you. As long as there’s no financial crash.
AB: Well even if there were, I highly doubt the quality of our standards would be in any way to blame.
HH: Like I said, Barcky my boy, save it for the speeches! Not that I’ll be there to hear them. The dance floor is calling!
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author, except of course where reliably quoting another source.