A report on IFRS and Its Implications


The article starts off by telling us that IFRS will be the global accounting norm regardless of the differences in the culture. Hearing all this is all good, but the reality is that companies which belong to the countries who have committed to the conversion are unprepared for the magnitude of changes which would be required. This article focuses on the changes required on the Systems side.

Companies beginning to scope their IFRS conversions are often surprised by the volume of disclosures, and how different they are from their national GAAP [1] . The data which is required by IFRS is not being collected, even if it is collected; the amount of data being collected is insufficient. According to an executive of BASDA, IFRS will hardly require any changes to the back office systems, whatever changes will be required would be on the reporting side as IFRS according to him focuses on reports.

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Organisations using Enterprise Resource Planning systems to prepare management accounts will be in a better position to the ones which use different systems for each office or business unit. Recalibration of ERP systems will be relatively easy than to upgrade legacy systems. One of the biggest barriers to conversion identified by a survey conducted by PWC was the alignment of internal reporting systems with the external reporting systems.

The article brings out that a lot of CFO's would prefer go to an early grave than writing anything which might adversely affect their share price. Educating customers is being taken up on the European Continent. Lack of education on this front is still a serious issue as many people are still confused. Scarcity of human capital is also being looked at by the CFO's as a big hurdle to prepare themselves on time.

Principles or Rules?

By Christian Doherty (11th March, 2008), Accounting and Business

It talks about a global symposium held in the month of January where the Peter Wyman, a partner of PwC noticed a sea change in the debate surrounding the adoption of a uniform international accounting standard. The feeling was that IFRS will be adopted across the globe, the issues which were present were only of how it was to be done.

There have been primarily been two major approaches to accounting namely rule based and principal based. UK and Europe have a principal based accounting system which allows greater discretion and use of professional judgement. On the other hand, US has been following rule based accounting system which was further strengthened after seeing the light of scandals such as Enron, etc. The major challenge for International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is to adapt IFRS so that it is agreeable to all the parties involved.

ACCA's head of financial reporting believes that the use of principles-based approach should be the way forward as principles is a more practical way of pushing standards across the globe. The six accountancy firms which used the symposium to showcase their whitepapers expressed that principle based will limit the size and complexity of the rule book.

View from the US  According to the director of Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), due to the scandals it has become necessary to ensure that regulators don't apply unfair pressure on the people who prepare the accounts. This has led to the development of a culture of Second Guessing which the rule based approach tries to rectify, making it an extended rulebook. The enforcement is also talked of as a problem because Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) does not hesitate to criticize, but empirical data shows that out of the restatement of accounts which were ordered by SEC, very few companies share price showed any movement.

View of the Users  What the users want is principles based approach because the aim of the financial reports and statements is to give a clear view of the way the company is run and its future prospects for success. Investors are worried that US may influence the new IFRS regime too much and create principles having unending exceptions, clarifications and rules.

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IASB is consulting all the stakeholders and hearing out the point of view of each one of them. They assure the investors that no party will be able to influence any decision and that they would like to hear to all sides of view before taking any decision.

All of the following points towards the steady adoption of IFRS. The greatest danger will be that of to please all the stakeholders. It would be interesting to note what substance US wants to put in the rulebook as US has agreed to adopt IFRS.

Rules for the Transition to IFRS

By Richard Martin (29th August, 2003), Accounting and Business

This article focuses on the IFRS 1 issued by the IASB. IFRS 1 deals how companies adopting IFRS for the first time should deal with the accounting issues. The main thing mentioned in this standard is that a full restatement of the accounts has to be done using IFRS. There are two important dates for this concept, the transition date and the reporting date. For a company having 31st December year end, if the reporting date is 31st Dec 2005 with one year comparables, the transition date will be 1st January, 2004. This means that the balance sheet at the start of 2004 has to be restated with all the international standards which apply at the end of 2005.

A few exceptions to the general principal in this standard, the primary purpose being the need to balance accounts for comparability between different companies applying IFRS. The basic problem with IFRS implementation will be that firms across will not be comparable but it will be much more simpler to compare the firm across years. Thus as full comparability is not possible, transparency becomes all the more important. Thus as a result, IFRS requires a full reconciliation of shareholders funds and profits reported between national rules and IFRS.

More than Simple Conversion, this is Transformation

By Simon Gealy (17th December, 2003), Accounting and Business

This article talks about the need for the EU listed companies to report under IFRS from 2005 and that the companies should be well underway with projects which will help them transition. The reality is in contrast as surprisingly very few people understand the impact of the standards even when the companies are required to put a note in the statements from 2003 December onwards of their plans to achieve the transition to IFRS.

The change of Financial reporting standard is just not of moving from one standard to another, rather it will influence the way in which financial information is shared throughout the organisation. Thus it tells us that it will take not just a few weeks before the deadline, it would requite significant time and commitment form the management to make the change.

Collection of data to prepare the financial reports needed for IFRS will be a very big challenge as the data which will need to be collected has to be reliable and has to be subject to sufficient level of control to be taken as a reportable data. This article talks about two separate but related approaches which needs to operate so as to make the process an effective one:

A top down definition of the IFRS reporting requirement  a thorough understanding of the accounting policies and associated data requirements required to achieve IFRS-compliant financial reporting. This will help develop financial reports early in the conversion process and would help identify the gaps in the available data.

A bottom up review at the business unit level of the precise impact of IFRS requirements on individual business processes and financial systems. This would make sure if the reporting requirements could be possible with the right level and quality of information within an acceptable time period.

Another challenge which will need to be understood is the impact of IFRS on the figures. IFRS moves away from the traditional historical cost approach to the concept of fair value. This will lead to greater volatility in the numbers which will need to be understood as the stakeholders give greater emphasis on results in the particular financial period. If these are not well explained, the cost of capital for the company may very well rise due to the changes in the earnings of the firm if they remain unexplained to the market.

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IFRS will provide businesses with opportunity to address problems which are faced such as reporting of numbers nearly after 4 months from the year ending date. This leads to less time available with the analytical team to analyse the numbers and put actions into place. There is always a delay up to a quarter. IFRS will lead to swifter reporting of results and ultimately benefitting the entire organization. The risk for firms in this regard would be the inability to report on time and would lead to loss of reputation more than the penalties which would be imposed.

Technology Implications of IFRS adoption for U.S. Companies

By Deloitte Consulting LLP (2008)

Looking at IFRS as only a change in reporting could turn out to be very expensive rework for the organisation at a later date. The extent of changes which might be required will depend on the size of the business, the number of applications collecting financial data and the capabilities of the current applications. IFRS implementation could provide a good opportunity for firms to streamline their reporting systems and could provide a good platform for making strategic improvements in the systems, processes and controls.

As a lot of vendors have solutions for IFRS, technology will greatly help as an enabler for IFRS. It will also provide a great cost saving opportunity due to standardisation, improved communication, improved controls and better cash management.

It concludes by telling us that technology change should not be underestimated and it will be critical for the firm to address the technology point of view early in the process as changes in the systems must be sustained along with a detailed understanding of the new accounting language.