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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IAS 1 Presentation of financial statements

IAS 1 Presentation of financial statements

Objective

IAS 1 Presentation of financial statements provides the basis for presentation of general-purpose financial statements, to ensure:

  • comparability both with the entity’s financial statements of previous periods, and
  • with the financial statements of other entities.

To achieve this objective, IAS 1 sets out overall requirements for the presentation of financial statements, guidelines for their structure and minimum requirements for their content.

The illustration below shows an overview of the purpose, overall considerations, and components of financial statements.

IAS 1 Technical summary

Fundamental concepts/conventions for FS

Fair presentation and compliance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs)

  • Financial statements shall present fairly the financial position, financial performance and cash flows of an entity
  • An entity whose financial statements
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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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Components of Financial Statements

Components of Financial Statements – The following comprise a complete set of financial statements:

  • a statement of financial position,
  • a statement of profit or loss and other comprehensive income, presented either:
    • in a single statement that included all components of profit or loss and other comprehensive income, or
    • in the form of two separate statements:
      • one displaying components of profit or loss,
      • immediately preceding another statement beginning with profit or loss and displaying components of other comprehensive income,
  • a statement of changes in equity,
  • a statement of cash flows,
  • notes to the financial statements, comprising significant accounting policies and other explanatory information,
  • a (third) statement of financial position as at the beginning of the preceding period where an entity restates comparative information following:
    • a change in accounting policy,
    • a correction of an error, or
    • a reclassification of items in the financial statements, and
    • comparative information in respect of the preceding period.

Components of Financial Statements Components of Financial Statements

Components of Financial Statements

a (third) statement of financial position as at the beginning of the preceding period where an entity restates comparative information following a (third) statement of financial position as at the beginning of the preceding period where an entity restates comparative information following a (third) statement of financial position as at the beginning of the preceding period where an entity restates comparative information following

a (third) statement of financial position as at the beginning of the preceding period where an entity restates comparative information following a (third) statement of financial position as at the beginning of the preceding period where an entity restates comparative information following a (third) statement of financial position as at the beginning of the preceding period where an entity restates comparative information following

Components of Financial Statements

IFRS 10 Special control approach

IFRS 10 Special control approach

– determines which entities are consolidated in a parent’s financial statements and therefore affects a group’s reported results, cash flows and financial position – and the activities that are ‘on’ and ‘off’ the group’s balance sheet. Under IFRS, this control assessment is accounted for in accordance with IFRS 10 ‘Consolidated financial statements’.

Some of the challenges of applying the IFRS 10 Special control approach include:

  • identifying the investee’s returns, which in turn involves identifying its assets and liabilities. This may appear straightforward but complications arise when the legal ownership of assets diverges from the accounting depiction (for example, in financial asset transfers that ‘fail’ de-recognition, and in finance leases). In general, the assessment of the investee’s assets and returns should be consistent with the accounting depiction in accordance with IFRS
  • it may not always be clear whether contracts and other arrangements between an investor and an investee
    • create rights or exposure to a variable return from the investee’s performance for the investor; or
    • transfer risk or variability from the investor to the investee IFRS 10 Special control approach
  • the relevant activities of an SPE may not be obvious, especially when its activities have been narrowly specified in its purpose and design IFRS 10 Special control approach
  • the rights to direct those activities might also be difficult to identify, because for example, they arise only in particular circumstances or from contracts that are outside the legal boundary of the SPE (but closely related to its activities).

IFRS 10 Special control approach sets out requirements for how to apply the control principle in less straight forward circumstances, which are detailed below:  IFRS 10 Special control approach

  • when voting rights or similar rights give an investor power, including situations where the investor holds less than a majority of voting rights and in circumstances involving potential voting rights
  • when an investee is designed so that voting rights are not the dominant factor in deciding who controls the investee, such as when any voting rights relate to administrative tasks only and the relevant activities are directed by means of contractual arrangements IFRS 10 Special control approach
  • involving agency relationships IFRS 10 Special control approach
  • when the investor has control only over specified assets of an investee
  • franchises. IFRS 10 Special control approach

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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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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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IAS 1 Common control transactions v Newco formation

Common control transactions v Newco formation

are two different events, that sometimes interactCommon control transactions v Newco formation

  • Common control transactions represent the transfer of assets or an exchange of equity interests among entities under the same parent’s control. “Control” can be established through a majority voting interest, as well as variable interests and contractual arrangements. Entities that are consolidated by the same parent—or that would be consolidated, if consolidated financial statements were required to be prepared by the parent or controlling party—are considered to be under common control.Determining whether common control exists requires judgment and could have broad implications for financial reporting, deals and tax. Just a few examples are:
    • A reporting entity charters a newly formed entity to effect a transaction.
    • A ‘Never-Neverland‘-domiciled company transfers assets to a subsidiary domiciled in a different jurisdiction.
    • Two companies under common control combine to form one legal entity.
    • Prior to spin-off of a subsidiary by a parent entity, another wholly owned subsidiary transfers net assets to the “SpinCo.”
    • As part of a reorganization, a parent entity merges with and into a wholly owned subsidiary.
  • Newco formations may be used in Business Combinations or businesses controlled by the same party (or parties). Just a few examples are: Common control transactions v Newco formation
    • A Newco can be formed by the controlling party (for example, to facilitate subsequent disposal of the newly created group through an initial public offering (IPO) or a spin-off or by a third-party acquirer (for example to raise funds to effect the acquisition); Common control transactions v Newco formation
    • A Newco can pay cash or shares to effect an acquisition; and
    • A Newco can be formed to acquire just one business or more than one business.

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Beware of COVID 19 Rent concessions IFRS accounting

Beware of COVID 19 Rent concessions IFRS accounting

IFRS 16 amendments Corona Rent concessions provide relief to lessees in accounting for rent concessions.

IFRS 16 Rent concession amendments in a nutshell

The lessee perspective

The amendments to IFRS 16 add an optional practical expedient that allows lessees to bypass assessing whether a rent concession that meets the following criteria is a lease modification:

  • it is a direct consequence of COVID-19; Beware of COVID 19 Rent concessions IFRS accounting
  • the revised lease consideration is substantially the same as, or less than, the original lease consideration;
  • any reduction in the lease payments applies to payments originally due on or before June 30, 2021; and
  • there is no substantive change to the other terms and conditions of the lease.

Lessees who elect this practical expedient account for qualifying rent concessions in the same way as changes under IFRS 16 that are not lease modifications. The accounting will depend on the nature of the concession, but one outcome might be to recognize negative variable lease payments in the period in which the lessor agrees to an unconditional forgiveness of lease payments.

Lessees are required to apply the practical expedient consistently to similar leases and similar concessions. They must also disclose if they elected the practical expedient and for which concessions, as well as the amount recognized in profit and loss in the reporting period to reflect changes in lease payments that arise from rent concessions to which they have applied the practical expedient.

The amendments are effective for reporting periods beginning after June 1, 2020, with early application permitted.

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