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 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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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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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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Non-monetary transactions IFRS 15 Complete and Exemplary Read

Non-monetary transactions IFRS 15

Barter transactions are the exchange of goods or services, in exchange for other goods or services

IFRS References: IFRS 15, IAS 16, IAS 38, IAS 40 Non-monetary transactions IFRS 15

If an entity enters into a non-monetary exchange with a customer as part of its ordinary activities, then generally it applies the guidance on non-cash consideration in the IFRS 15 Revenue standard. Non-monetary transactions IFRS 15

Non-monetary exchanges with non-customers do not give rise to revenue. If a non-monetary exchange of assets with a non-customer has commercial substance, then the transaction gives rise to a gain or loss. The cost of the asset acquired is generally the fair value of the asset surrendered, adjusted for any cash transferred. Non-monetary transactions IFRS 15

Simple bartering involves no cost as this involves exchanging goods and/or services of the same value.

A barter exchange operates as a broker and bank in which each participating member has an account that is debited when purchasesNon-monetary transactions IFRS 15 are made, and credited when sales are made. Compared to one-to-one bartering, concerns over unequal exchanges are reduced in a barter exchange.

The exchange plays an important role because it provides the record-keeping, brokering expertise and monthly statements to each member. Commercial exchanges make money by charging a commission on each transaction on either the buy or sell side, or a combination of both. Non-monetary transactions IFRS 15

In general, one requirement remains in tact in non-monetary transactions, revenue cannot be recognised if the amount of revenue is not reliably measurable. Non-monetary transactions IFRS 15

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Best guide IFRS 16 Lessee modifications

Best guide IFRS 16 Lessee modifications

summarises the process surrounding changes in lease contracts that identify as lease modification.

A lessee that chooses not to apply the practical expedient (IFRS 16 option for rent concessions arising directly from the COVID-19 pandemic that are not going to be accounted for as lease modifications), or agrees changes to its lease contracts that do not qualify for the practical expedient, assesses whether there is a lease modification.

Overview

A change in the scope of a lease, or the consideration for a lease, that was not part of the original terms and conditions meets the standard’s definition of a lease modification.

A lessee accounts for a lease modification as a separate lease if both of the following conditions exist:

  • the modification increases the scope of the lease by adding the right to use one or more underlying assets; and
  • the consideration for the lease increases by an amount equivalent to the stand- alone price for the increase in scope and any appropriate adjustments to that stand-alone price to reflect the circumstances of the particular contract.

For a modification that is not a separate lease, at the effective date of the modification the lessee accounts for it by remeasuring the lease liability using a discount rate determined at that date and:

  • for modifications that decrease the scope of the lease: decreasing the carrying amount of the right-of-use asset to reflect the partial or full termination of the lease, and recognising a gain or loss that reflects the proportionate decrease in scope; and
  • for all other modifications: making a corresponding adjustment to the right-of- use asset.

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Best guide IFRS 16 Lessor modifications

Best guide IFRS 16 Lessor modifications

summarises the accounting for lessor modifications that depends on – and may change – the lease classification.

Unlike IAS 17 Leases, the new standard provides detailed guidance on the lessor accounting for lease modifications, with separate guidance for modifications to finance leases and operating leases.

However, additional complexities arise for modifications of a finance lease receivable not accounted for as a separate lease for which, under paragraph 80(b) of IFRS 16, the lessor applies the requirements of IFRS 9 Financial Instruments. A number of issues arise due to differences in the basic concepts between IFRS 16 and IFRS 9.

The following diagram summarises the accounting for lease modifications by a lessor.

Best guide IFRS 16 Lessor modifications

Separate lease Not a separate lease – Finance to operating Not a separate lease – Finance to finance Lessor modifications to operating expenses

* A lessee reassessment of whether it is reasonably certain to exercise an option to extend, or not to exercise a termination option, included in the original lease contract is not a lease modification

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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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