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Canada’s top accounting standards-setter is going global.

Linda Mezon-Hutter will join the U.K.-based International Accounting Standards Board, the group responsible for setting and maintaining International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), the global accounting rules followed by nearly 150 countries, including Canada.

Ms. Mezon-Hutter, whose term as chair of Canada’s Accounting Standards Board was set to expire in June, 2023, will leave early to start her five-year term on the international board in September. The Accounting Standards Board will need to appoint an interim chair before selecting Ms. Mezon-Hutter’s replacement.

Ms. Mezon-Hutter was the chief accountant at Royal Bank of Canada before joining the Accounting Standards Board in 2004. The group elevated her to chair in 2013.

She oversaw Canada’s early years of using International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which were adopted in 2011. Over her time as chair, the Accounting Standards Board was in frequent dialogue with the International Accounting Standards Board, or IASB, particularly on the issue of how to set accounting rules for the emerging cannabis industry and its often-confusing use of old rules for biological assets.

Ms. Mezon-Hutter will occupy one of two seats set aside for members from the Americas. Thomas Scott, a former professor of accounting at the University of Waterloo and University of Alberta, will conclude his term at the IASB in September.

“For me, because we’ve been so actively involved with the IASB, not just in my tenure but even before, this is kind of a continuation of something that I was already doing, but it’s on a much more formal level,” Ms. Mezon-Hutter said in an interview. “I look at this as an opportunity to be there firsthand not only to represent views of Canadians, but to listen to views from other jurisdictions as well and come up with good, globally acceptable accounting standards.”

Canada has a unique place in accounting because it sits in between – literally – the IASB and the one big jurisdiction that it seems will never adopt IFRS: the United States. That country is maintaining its own set of generally accepted accounting principles, set by a group call the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and enforced by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the national regulator.

“There are going to be two big standard-setters in the world going forward, and that’s going to be the IASB and the FASB,” she said. “I don’t ever see that changing because the U.S. is going to be happy to keep that mechanism. And so our thought process kind of evolved into the notion of ‘forget about trying to get them to converge, because it’s too long and too painful.’”

The IASB, she says, has recognized “we sit in this really interesting position where we speak both IFRS and U.S. GAAP,” with Canada, at 3 per cent of global capital markets, being home to one-third of the companies that file financial statements with the SEC as “foreign private issuers.”

Ms. Mezon-Hutter believes the current priorities of the Canada-based Accounting Standards Board will continue after her departure. The group released a five-year strategic plan earlier this year that set three goals: Deliver relevant and high-quality accounting standards; demonstrate leadership in reporting beyond traditional financial statements; and raise the board’s international influence.

In one of those areas, the Accounting Standards Board took a leadership role under Ms. Mezon-Hutter in 2018 by releasing a draft framework for reporting performance measures – an effort to boost dialogue on the use of non-GAAP numbers by Canadian companies. The report came as Canadian securities regulators worked on their proposed rules on non-GAAP, ultimately issued in May, 2021.

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