Better Communication in Financial Reporting

Better Communication in Financial Reporting

Better Communication in Financial Reporting is an IFRS.org initiative to focus financial reporting on users. There is a general view that financial reports have become too complex and difficult to read and that financial reporting tends to focus more on compliance than communication. See also narrative reporting as a discussion on alternative ways of reporting.

At the same time, users’ tolerance for sifting through information to find what they need continues to decline.

This has implications for the reputation of companies who fail to keep pace. A global study confirmed this trend, with the majority of analysts stating that the quality of reporting directly influenced their opinion of the quality of management.

To demonstrate what companies could do to make their financial report more relevant, there are several suggestions to ‘streamline’ the financial statements to reflect some of the best practices that have been emerging globally over the past few years. In particular:

  • Information is organized to clearly tell the story of financial performance and make critical information more prominent and easier to find.
  • Additional information is included where it is important for an understanding of the performance of the company. For example, we have included a summary of significant transactions and events as the first note to the financial statements even though this is not a required disclosure.

Improving disclosure effectiveness

Terms such as ’disclosure overload’ and ‘cutting the clutter’, and more precisely ‘disclosure effectiveness’, describe a problem in financial reporting that has become a priority issue for the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB or Board), local standard setters, and regulatory bodies. The growth and complexity of financial statement disclosure is also drawing significant attention from financial statement preparers, and more importantly, the users of financial statements.

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What happened in the reporting period

What happened in the reporting period

There is no requirement to disclose a summary of significant events and transactions that have affected the company’s financial position and performance during the period under review (or simply what happened in the reporting period). However, information such as this could help readers understand the entity’s performance and any changes to the entity’s financial position during the year and make it easier finding the relevant information. However, information such as this could also be provided in the (unaudited) operating and financial review rather than the (audited) notes to the financial statements.

Covid-19
At the time of writing, the biggest impact on the financial statements of entities all around the world is related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most entities will be affected by this in one form or another and should discuss the impact prominently in their financial statements. However, as the events are still unfolding, this publication is not providing any illustrative examples or guidance. See how to account for Covid-19 to get an up-to-date discussion.

Going concern disclosures [IAS1.25]
When preparing financial statements, management shall make an assessment of an entity’s ability to continue as a going concern. Financial statements shall be prepared on a going concern basis unless management either intends to liquidate the entity or to cease trading, or has no realistic alternative but to do so.

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1 Best Complete Read – Financial Instruments

Financial Instruments is a summary of the current (Financial Statements preparation for 2020 on wards) IFRS reporting requirements relating to the combination of IAS 32 Financial Instruments: Presentation, IFRS 7 Financial instruments: Disclosure and IFRS 9 Financial Instruments, into one overall narrative.

IFRS standards for Financial Instruments have a complicated history. It was originally intended that IFRS 9 would replace IAS 39 in its entirety. However, in response to requests from interested parties that the accounting for financial instruments be improved quickly, the project to replace IAS 39 was divided into three main phases.

The three main phases of the project to replace IAS 39 were:

  1. Phase 1: classification and measurement of financial assets and financial liabilities.
  2. Phase
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IAS 16 Generation assets for Power and Utilities

Generation assets for Power and Utilities

– are often large and complex installations. They are expensive to construct, tend to be exposed to harsh operating conditions and require periodic replacement or repair. This environment leads to specific accounting issues.

1 Fixed assets and components

IFRS has a specific requirement for ‘component’ depreciation, as described in IAS 16 Property, Plant and Equipment. Each significant part of an item of property, plant and equipment is depreciated separately. Significant parts of an asset that have similar useful lives and patterns of consumption can be grouped together. This requirement can create complications for utility entities, because many assets include components with a shorter useful life than the asset as a whole.

Identifying components of an asset

Generation assets might comprise a significant number of components, many of which will have differing useful lives. The significant components of these types of assets must be separately identified. This can be a complex process, particularly on transition to IFRS, because the detailed record-keeping needed for componentisation might not have been required in order to comply with national generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). This can particularly be an issue for older power plants. However, some regulators require detailed asset records, which can be useful for IFRS component identification purposes.

An entity might look to its operating data if the necessary information for components is not readily identified by the accounting records. Some components can be identified by considering the routine shutdown or overhaul schedules for power stations and the associated replacement and maintenance routines. Consideration should also be given to those components that are prone to technological obsolescence, corrosion or wear and tear that is more severe than that of the other portions of the larger asset.

First-time IFRS adopters can benefit from an exemption under IFRS 1 First-time Adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards. This exemption allows entities to use a value that is not depreciated cost in accordance with IAS 16, and IAS 23 Borrowing Costs as deemed cost on transition to IFRS. It is not necessary to apply the exemption to all assets or to a group of assets.

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The best 1 in overview – IFRS 9 Impairment requirements

IFRS 9 Impairment requirements

forward-looking information to recognise expected credit losses for all debt-type financial assets

 

Under IFRS 9 Impairment requirements, recognition of impairment no longer depends on a reporting entity first identifying a credit loss event.

IFRS 9 instead uses more forward-looking information to recognise expected credit losses for all debt-type financial assets that are not measured at fair value through profit or loss.

IFRS 9 requires an entity to recognise a loss allowance for expected credit losses on:

  • debt instruments measured at amortised cost
  • debt instruments measured at fair value through other comprehensive income
  • lease receivables
  • contract assets (as defined in IFRS 15 ‘Revenue from Contracts with Customers’)
  • loan commitments that are not measured at fair value through profit or loss
  • financial guarantee contracts (except those accounted for as insurance contracts).

IFRS 9 requires an expected loss allowance to be estimated for each of these types of asset or exposure. However, the Standard specifies three different approaches depending on the type of asset or exposure:

IFRS 9 Impairment requirements

* optional application to trade receivables and contract assets with a significant financing component, and to lease receivables

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Low credit risk operational simplification

Low credit risk operational simplification

IFRS 9 contains an important simplification that, if a financial instrument has low credit risk, then an entity is allowed to assume at the reporting date that no significant increases in credit risk have occurred. The low credit risk concept was intended, by the IASB, to provide relief for entities from tracking changes in the credit risk of high quality financial instruments. Therefore, this simplification is only optional and the low credit risk simplification can be elected on an instrument-by-instrument basis.

This is a change from the 2013 ED, in which a low risk exposure was deemed not to have suffered significant deterioration in credit risk. The amendment to make the simplification optional was made in response to requests from constituents, including regulators. It is expected that the Basel Committee SCRAVL consultation document will propose that sophisticated banks should only use this simplification rarely for their loan portfolios.

For low risk instruments, the entity would recognise an allowance based on 12-month ECLs. However, if a financial instrument is not considered to have low credit risk at the reporting date, it does not follow that the entity is required to recognise lifetime ECLs. In such instances, the entity has to assess whether there has been a significant increase in credit risk since initial recognition that requires the recognition of lifetime ECLs.

The standard states that a financial instrument is considered to have low credit risk if: [IFRS 9.B5.22]

  • The financial instrument has a low risk of default
  • The borrower has a strong capacity to meet its contractual cash flow obligations in the near term
  • Adverse changes in economic and business conditions in the longer term may, but will not necessarily, reduce the ability of the borrower to fulfil its contractual cash flow obligations Low credit risk operational simplification

A financial instrument is not considered to have low credit risk simply because it has a low risk of loss (e.g., for a collateralised loan, if the value of the collateral is more than the amount lent (see collateral) or it has lower risk of default compared with the entity’s other financial instruments or relative to the credit risk of the jurisdiction within which the entity operates.

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Basel Committee IFRS 9 Guidance

Basel Committee IFRS 9 Guidance

Expected credit losses continuously in focus

In December 2015, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (‘the Committee’) issued its Guidance on credit risk and accounting for expected credit losses (‘Basel Committee IFRS 9 Guidance’). The Guidance sets out supervisory guidance on sound credit risk practices associated with the implementation and ongoing application of expected credit loss (ECL) accounting frameworks, such as that introduced in IFRS 9, Financial Instruments.

The Committee expects a disciplined, high-quality approach to assessing and measuring ECL by banks. The Basel Committee IFRS 9 Guidance emphasises the inclusion of a wide range of relevant, reasonable and supportable forward looking information, including macroeconomic data, in a bank’s accounting measure of ECL. In particular, banks should not ignore future events simply because they have a low probability of occurring or on the grounds of increased cost or subjectivity.

In addition, the Basel Committee IFRS 9 Guidance notes the Committee’s view that that the use of the practical expedients in IFRS 9 should be limited for internationally active banks. This includes the use of the ‘low credit risk’ exemption and the ‘more than 30 days past due’ rebuttable presumption in relation to assessing significant increases in credit risk.

Obviously, banks keep in continued talks to their local regulator about the extent to which their regulator expects the (below) Banking IFRS 9 Guidance to apply to them.

Principles underlying the Banking IFRS 9 Guidance – in Summary

Supervisory guidance for credit risk and accounting for expected credit losses

Basel Committee IFRS 9 Guidance Basel Committee IFRS 9 Guidance Basel Committee IFRS 9 Guidance Basel Committee IFRS 9 Guidance Basel Committee IFRS 9 Guidance

Principle 1

Responsibility

A bank’s board of directors and senior management are responsible for ensuring appropriate credit risk practices, including an effective system of internal control, to consistently determine adequate allowances.

Principle 2

Methodology

The measurement of allowances should build upon robust methodologies to address policies, procedures and controls for assessing and measuring credit risk

Banks should clearly document the definition of key terms and criteria to duly consider the impact of forward-looking information including macro-economic factors, different potential scenarios and define accounting policies for restructurings

Principle 3

Credit Risk Rating

A bank should have a credit risk rating process in place to appropriately group lending exposures on the basis of shared credit risk characteristics

Principle 4

Allowances adequacy

A bank’s aggregate amount of allowances should be adequate and consistent with the objectives of the applicable accounting framework

Banks must ensure that the assessment approach (individual or collective) does not result in delayed recognition of ECL, e.g. by incorporating forward-looking information incl. macroeconomic factors on collective basis for individually assessed loans

Principle 5

Validation of models

A bank should have policies and procedures in place to appropriately validate models used to assess and measure expected credit losses

Principle 6

Experienced credit judgment

Experienced credit judgment in particular with regards to forward looking information and macroeconomic factors is essential

Consideration of forward looking information should not be avoided on the basis that banks consider costs as excessive or information too uncertain if this information contributes to a high quality implementation

Principle 7

Common systems

A bank should have a sound credit risk assessment and measurement process that provides it with a strong basis for common systems, tools and data

Principle 8

Disclosure

A bank’s public disclosures should promote transparency and comparability by providing timely, relevant, and decision-useful information

Principle 9

Assessment of Credit Risk Management

Banking supervisors should periodically evaluate the effectiveness of a bank’s credit risk practices

Principle 10

Approval of Models

Supervisors should be satisfied that the methods employed by a bank to determine accounting allowances lead to an appropriate measurement of expected credit losses

Principle 11

Assessment of Capital Adequacy

Banking supervisors should consider a bank’s credit risk practices when assessing a bank’s capital adequacy

Principles underlying the Banking IFRS 9 Guidance

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IFRS vs US GAAP Employee benefits

IFRS vs US GAAP Employee benefits

The following discussion captures a number of the more significant GAAP differences under both the impairment standards. It is important to note that the discussion is not inclusive of all GAAP differences in this area.

The significant differences and similarities between U.S. GAAP and IFRS related to accounting for investment property are summarized in the following tables.

Standards Reference

US GAAP1

IFRS2

715 Compensation – Retirement benefits

710-10 Compensation- General – Overall

712-10 Compensation – Nonretirement Postemployment Benefits – Overall

IAS 19 Employee Benefits

IFRIC 14 The limit on a defined benefit asset minimum funding requirements and their interaction

Introduction

The guidance under US GAAP and IFRS as it relates to employee benefits contains some significant differences with potentially far-reaching implications.

This narrative deals with employee benefits provided under formal plans and agreements between an entity and its employees, under legislation or through industry arrangements, including those provided under informal practices that give rise to constructive obligations.

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IFRS vs US GAAP Investment property – Broken in 10 great excellent reads

IFRS vs US GAAP Investment property

The following discussion captures a number of the more significant GAAP differences under both the impairment standards. It is important to note that the discussion is not inclusive of all GAAP differences in this area.

The significant differences and similarities between U.S. GAAP and IFRS related to accounting for investment property are summarized in the following tables.

Standards Reference

US GAAP1

IFRS2

360 Property, Plant and equipment

IAS 40 Investment property

Introduction

The guidance under US GAAP and IFRS as it relates to investment property contains some significant differences with potentially far-reaching implications.

Links to detailed observations by subject

Definition and classification Initial measurement Subsequent measurement
Fair value model Cost model Subsequent expenditure
Timing of transfers Measurement of transfers Redevelopment
Disposals

Overview

US GAAP

IFRS

Unlike IFRS Standards, there is no specific definition of ‘investment property’; such property is accounted for as property, plant and equipment unless it meets the criteria to be classified as held-for-sale.

‘Investment property’ is property (land or building) held by the owner or lessee to earn rentals or for capital appreciation, or both.

Unlike IFRS Standards, there is no guidance on how to classify dual-use property. Instead, the entire property is accounted for as property, plant and equipment.

A portion of a dual-use property is classified as investment property only if the portion could be sold or leased out under a finance lease. Otherwise, the entire property is classified as investment property only if the portion of the property held for own use is insignificant.

Unlike IFRS Standards, ancillary services provided by a lessor do not affect the treatment of a property as property, plant and equipment.

If a lessor provides ancillary services, and such services are a relatively insignificant component of the arrangement as a whole, then the property is classified as investment property.

Like IFRS Standards, investment property is initially measured at cost as property, plant and equipment.

Investment property is initially measured at cost.

Unlike IFRS Standards, subsequent to initial recognition all investment property is measured using the cost model as property, plant and equipment.

Subsequent to initial recognition, all investment property is measured under either the fair value model (subject to limited exceptions) or the cost model.

If the fair value model is chosen, then changes in fair value are recognised in profit or loss.

Unlike IFRS Standards, there is no requirement to disclose the fair value of investment property.

Disclosure of the fair value of all investment property is required, regardless of the measurement model used.

Similar to IFRS Standards, subsequent expenditure is generally capitalised if it is probable that it will give rise to future economic benefits.

Subsequent expenditure is capitalised only if it is probable that it will give rise to future economic benefits.

Unlike IFRS Standards, investment property is accounted for as property, plant and equipment, and there are no transfers to or from an ‘investment property’ category.

Transfers to or from investment property can be made only when there has been a change in the use of the property.

IFRS vs US GAAP Investment property IFRS vs US GAAP Investment property IFRS vs US GAAP Investment property

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30 days past due rebuttable presumption – simple and sufficient

Past due status and more than 30 days past due rebuttable presumption

– making loss provision calculations simple –

The second simplification available in IFRS 9 sets out a rebuttable presumption that the credit risk on a financial asset has increased significantly since initial recognition when contractual payments are more than 30 days past due. [IFRS 9.5.5.11]

The first simplification available in IFRS 9 is the low credit presumption.

When payments are 30 days past due, a financial asset is considered to be in stage 2 and lifetime expected credit losses are recognised.

An entity can rebut this presumption when it has reasonable and supportable information available that demonstrates that even if payments are 30 days or more past due, it does not represent a significant increase in the credit risk of a financial instrument.

This 30 days past due simplification permits the use of delinquency or past due status, together with other more forward-looking information, to 30 days past dueidentify a significant increase in credit risk. The IASB decided that this simplification should be required as a rebuttable presumption to ensure that its application does not result in an entity reverting to an incurred loss model.[IFRS 9.BC5.190]

The IASB is concerned that past due information is a lagging indicator. Typically, credit risk increases significantly before a financial instrument becomes past due or other lagging borrower-specific factors (for example, a modification or restructuring) are observed.

Consequently, when reasonable and supportable information that is more forward-looking than past due information is available without undue cost or effort, it must be used to assess changes in credit risk and an entity cannot rely solely on past due information. However, if more forward-looking information (either on an individual or collective basis) is not available without undue cost or effort, an entity may use past due information to assess changes in credit risks.

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