The hottest topic in accounting this month is surely fair-value accounting, and whether all those toxic assets written down in the last few quarters might be shined up. But the bigger picture in accounting is the SEC's plan for the eventual retirement of GAAP accounting in favor of International Financial Reporting Standards, a long-term plan that will take institutions years to sort out, and at larger banks necessitate changes to hundreds of systems.

"Over 50 percent of the total effort (for conversion to IFRS), measured in time and cost, is related to IT," says Brad Fisher, partner in KPMG's IT advisory practice, and the firm's national leader for IFRS and IT. "This is not just necessarily about the ledger, it's about the supporting systems...Maybe you figure out the accounting in six-to-eight months, but you don't change 300 systems overnight."

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