The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is developing a group of projects that are likely to affect financial statements ending in 2015.
This article was first published in the July 2012 UK edition of Accounting and Business magazine.
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However, in the meantime, there have been some amendments to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) which affect year ends in 2012 and others that come into effect from 1 January 2013. Although these amendments have been in existence for a while, entities should ensure that the amendments do not slip under their corporate reporting radar.
There are amendments which relate to December 2012 year ends. For example, an amendment to IFRS 1, First-time Adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards, eliminates the need for companies adopting IFRS for the first time to restate de-recognition transactions that occurred before the date of transition to IFRS and provides guidance on how an entity should resume presenting financial statements in accordance with IFRS after a period when the entity was unable to comply with IFRSs because its functional currency was subject to severe hyperinflation.
An amendment to IFRS 7, Financial Instruments: Disclosures, introduces some additional disclosures that apply on the transfer of financial assets. The amendments allow users of financial statements to improve their understanding of transfer transactions of financial assets, for example, securitisations, including understanding the possible effects of any risks that may remain with the entity that transferred the assets. The amendments also require additional disclosures if a disproportionate amount of transfer transactions are undertaken around the end of a reporting period.
IAS 12, Income Taxes, requires an entity to measure the deferred tax relating to an asset depending on whether the entity expects to recover the carrying amount of the asset through use or sale. It can be subjective when assessing whether recovery will be through use or through sale when the asset is measured using the fair value model in IAS 40, Investment Property. The amendment provides a solution to the problem by introducing a presumption that recovery of the carrying amount will normally be through sale.
In addition, there is an amendment to IAS 1, Presentation of Financial Statements, which applies from 1 July 2012. The amendments to IAS 1 retain the 'one or two statement' approach at the option of the entity and only revise the way other comprehensive income (OCI) is presented, requiring separate subtotals for those elements which may be 'recycled' (for example, cashflow hedging and foreign currency translation) and those elements that will not (for example, fair value through OCI items under IFRS 9, Financial Instruments).
The revisions made to IAS 19, Employee Benefits, are significant, and will impact most entities. They come into effect from 1 January 2013. The revisions change the recognition and measurement of defined benefit pensions expense and termination benefits and the disclosures required. In particular, actuarial gains and losses can no longer be deferred using the corridor approach.
New and revised standards on group accounting were published in 2011. IFRS 10, Consolidated Financial Statements, replaces IAS 27, Consolidated and Separate Financial Statements and SIC-12, Consolidation - Special Purpose Entities and sets out a single consolidation model that identifies control as the basis for consolidation for all types of entities. IFRS 11, Joint Arrangements, establishes principles for the financial reporting by parties to a joint arrangement, and replaces IAS 31, Interests in Joint Ventures, and SIC-13, Jointly Controlled Entities, Non-monetary Contributions by Venturers.
IFRS 11 reduces the types of joint arrangement to joint operations and joint ventures, and prohibits the use of proportional consolidation. IFRS 12, Disclosure of Interests in Other Entities, combines, enhances and replaces the disclosure requirements for subsidiaries, joint arrangements, associates and unconsolidated structured entities.
In addition, IAS 27, Separate Financial Statements, now has the objective of setting standards to be applied in accounting for investments in subsidiaries, joint ventures, and associates when an entity elects, or is required by local regulation, to present separate (non-consolidated) financial statements. Financial statements in which the equity method is applied are not separate financial statements.
IAS 28, Investments in Associates and Joint Ventures, covers equity accounting for joint ventures as well as associates. IAS 28's objective is to prescribe the accounting for investments in associates and set out the requirements for the application of the equity method when accounting for investments in associates and joint ventures.
All of the new group accounting standards have to be implemented together and apply from 1 January 2013. They can be adopted with immediate effect (subject to EU endorsement for European entities), but only if they are all applied at the same time. The European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) supports the adoption of the standards and recommends their endorsement.
However, it does not support the mandatory effective date of 1 January 2013; the field-tests it has conducted provided evidence that some financial institutions would need more time to implement IFRS 10, IFRS 11 and IFRS 12 in a manner that brings reliable financial reporting to capital markets. EFRAG recommends the mandatory effective date of the standards to be 1 January 2014.
A number of current IFRSs require entities to measure or disclose the fair value of assets, liabilities or their own equity instruments. The fair value measurement requirements and the disclosures about fair value in those standards do not always give a clear measurement or disclosure objective. IFRS 13, Fair Value Measurement, published in May 2011, deals with this issue. The new requirements apply from 1 January 2013, but can be adopted with immediate effect, again subject to EU endorsement for European entities.
In addition to the changes which will have an immediate impact, there is potential for significant change in practice because of current exposure drafts. The comment period for the updated exposure draft, Revenue From Contracts With Customers, closed recently. Most respondents agreed with many of the proposals, but some expressed concerns over the lack of clarity on how to identify separate performance obligations, the performing of the onerous assessment at the performance obligation level, and the volume of disclosures. The IASB and US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) are beginning revisions and have indicated the effective date will be no earlier than 2015.
The FASB and IASB are proposing to fundamentally change the accounting for leases and are attempting to issue a second exposure draft by the end of 2012. The boards are proposing a 'right-of-use model' for lessees in which all leases are recognised on the statement of financial position at the commencement of the lease. A lessee would recognise an asset for the right to use the underlying asset and a liability to make lease payments.
The two key factors in initially measuring the right-of-use asset and lease liability are the lease term and lease payments. The lease term is to be the non-cancellable lease period, plus any renewal periods for which there is a significant economic incentive for the lessee to exercise the renewal option.
Similarly, a lessor accounting model is proposed. Under this method, a lessor would derecognise the underlying asset leased and recognise a lease receivable measured as the present value of the future lease payments and residual asset measured on an allocated-cost basis. A lessor's lease of investment property would utilise existing operating lease accounting but this is still in discussion by the Boards.
IFRS 9, Financial Instruments, is being developed in three phases: classification and measurement, impairment and hedging. The IASB agreed in late 2011 to look at limited modifications to IFRS 9 for classification and measurement. This arose because of application issues with IFRS 9 – the need to consider the interaction between IFRS 9 and the decisions being made on the insurance project, and consistency with the FASB's model on the classification and measurement of financial instruments.
In December 2011 the IASB issued Mandatory Effective Date of IFRS 9 and Transition Disclosures, which amends IFRS 9 to require application for annual periods beginning on or after 1 January 2015, rather than 1 January 2013. Early application of IFRS 9 is still permitted. IFRS 9 is also amended so that it does not require the restatement of comparative period financial statements for the initial application of the classification and measurement requirements of IFRS 9, but instead requires modified disclosures on transition to IFRS 9.
To date, the Boards have decided that an entity should assess the cashflow characteristics of financial assets and its business model to determine which financial assets should be classified and measured at amortised cost. If the business model's objective is to hold the assets in order to collect contractual cashflows, then amortised cost is used.
All financial instruments are initially measured at fair value plus or minus, in the case of a financial asset or financial liability not at fair value through profit or loss, transaction costs. A measurement category other than fair value through profit or loss can be used if the contractual terms of the financial asset result in cashflows that are solely payments of principal and interest on the principal amounts outstanding.
The existing requirement under IFRS 9 that prevents the splitting of embedded derivatives from financial assets is to be retained. The IASB intends to expand IFRS 9 to add new requirements for impairment of financial assets measured at amortised cost, and hedge accounting. The Boards are continuing their discussions on development of the three-bucket expected credit loss impairment model. The IASB expects to publish an exposure draft in the second half of 2012.
It can be seen that when reviewing and preparing financial statements, difficulties arise in ensuring compliance with all of the various amendments being issued, deciding whether to adopt a standard early and determining whether the jurisdiction has actually approved the standard for use.
Graham Holt is an examiner for ACCA, and associate dean and head of the accounting, finance and economics department at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School