IFRS 17 – Insurance Contracts has been in the pipeline for more than ten years, and finally made its appearance during the night of 16 to 17 May 2017. On 17 May, the IASB hosted two interactive webinars on the standard, and launched a dedicated webpage to support implementation. IFRS 17 will replace the interim standard IFRS 4 from 2021, meaning insurers will no longer be able to use local accounting frameworks for insurance contracts. The new standard is therefore likely to cause substantial upheaval, with impacts varying significantly from one company to another.
For the second time in its history, the IASB has launched a rapid-turnaround consultation with a comment period of just 30 days – the minimum permitted by its Due Process Handbook. What is more, it once again relates to financial instruments. The IASB is rushing it through in the hope that the document will be ready for first-time application alongside IFRS 9 in 2018. It is touch and go, as the basic principle needs to be approved by stakeholders and the amendments then need to go through the EU adoption process!
While they do not form an official part of the IASB’s Disclosure Initiative, the amendments proposed to IFRS 8 on operating segments are certainly in the same spirit. With this consultation, and the consultation around the discussion paper on Principles of Disclosure, the IASB has started the ball rolling for the 2017 round of deliberations on the theme of Better Communication. In Europe, the recently published standard on leases has just completed the first stage of the adoption process, EFRAG having just issued a recommendation for rapid endorsement to the European Commission.
IASB Vice-Chair Sue Lloyd has been appointed to head the IFRS Interpretations Committee, and four IASB members who supported the recent major standards have been re-appointed for a second term.
After a pause of several months, the IASB has started the year by presenting its annual improvements in a short exposure draft, with the next consultations expected as of April. It is also continuing to offer support on new standards, publishing an article on IFRS 16 – Leases, noting in passing that there are some decisions to be taken and judgments to be made, and urging entities not to delay the launch of their transition process.
Following a November issue that was packed with ‘A Closer Look’ features, this month’s Beyond the GAAP is unusual in not containing any at all. However, our monthly crossword will provide a useful reminder of key issues in IFRS over the 2016 reporting period.
The adoption of IFRS 9 by the European Union marks the end of the work carried out by EFRAG under the leadership of Françoise Flores, coincidentally falling at the same time as her appointment as a member of the IASB. This appointment will maintain a French presence on the Board, following the end of Philippe Danjou’s term last October.
Improving the effectiveness of financial reporting is one of the IASB’s key focal areas for the coming years. Four projects fall under the theme of “Better communication”, including the Disclosure Initiative and a research project on the format of primary financial statements.
The IASB’s update to its work plan on 23 September 2016 gives us a good idea of what is on the cards for IFRS over the next few months. In addition to the Insurance Contracts standard, which is scheduled for publication in March, and the Conceptual Framework (date not yet set), the next key milestones relate to research projects. Discussion Papers have been announced on business combinations under common control, dynamic risk management, financial instruments with characteristics of equity, and rate-regulated activities.
The IASB’s major projects are drawing towards their conclusion. Since 2014, the IASB has published standards on revenue, financial instruments and leases, and it is expected to complete the Insurance Contracts project and the Conceptual Framework by the end of 2017.
“You have been living in a bit of a building site for much of the last decade. However, the good news is that the majority of the structural work is now complete. The heating and plumbing systems are now in good shape.” With these words Hans Hoogervorst described his impression of the progress made in recent years at the start of the IFRS Foundation Conference in Zurich.
100th Beyond the GAAP!
Since the first edition in November 2006 we accompany you in the world of IFRSs.
The IASB’s publication of amendments to IFRS 15 on 12 April was followed, less than a month later, by the FASB’s publication of slightly different amendments to Topic 606.
The IASB has published amendments to IFRS 15 – Revenue from Contracts with Customers, which will have the same effective date as the standard itself, i.e. 1 January 2015. They emerge from the discussions of the Transition Research Group (TRG), which was set up jointly by the IASB and FASB to work on issues relating to implementation of the standard.
Just over a month after the IASB published IFRS 16 – Leases, the FASB has published its own, broadly equivalent, standard. There is still one major difference between the two frameworks, namely the timing of recognition of the total lease expense (the FASB has opted for straight-line recognition for operating leases). However, the rules are the same as regards the principle of recognition in the balance sheet, the definition of a lease, determining the lease term, and the accounting treatment of variable lease payments.
The long-awaited (but not necessarily hoped-for) publication of IFRS 16 on 13 January was accompanied by a number of educational tools designed to facilitate understanding of the standard and of the issues at stake: Project Summary and Feedback Statement, Effects Analysis, Webcast, Video: Introducing the new Leases Standard, Investor Perspectives A New Lease of Life.
As this issue goes to press, the IASB has just published the final version of the IFRS 16 – Leases standard. Originally scheduled for publication in time for Christmas, it turned out to be more of a New Year’s gift. Now it is finally here, issuers need to start preparing to recognise operating leases in the balance sheet from 2019 onwards.
The end of the year is approaching rapidly!
This means it is time for us to provide our yearly overview of the small number of standards and amendments that are mandatory for the 2015 financial period, as well as those for which early application is permitted.
As autumn comes around again, it is time for ESMA’s annual publication on its priorities for 2015 financial statements. This year it is focusing on two key topics: the impact of financial market conditions (interest rates, commodities prices, country-specific risks) on issuers’ financial situation, and the statement of cash flows, which is key to understanding and assessing issuers’ performance.
By the end of the month, the IASB will have received the comment letters on its proposals for clarifying IFRS 15. Although they arise out of the work of the Joint Transition Resource Group (TRG), the amendments put forward by the IASB differ from those proposed by the FASB in its own consultation documents. So the desire of the two boards to develop twin standards has not managed to overcome the difference of philosophy between IFRS and US GAAP. During this ‘pre-interpretation’ phase, the FASB has made clear its appetite for a ‘rule-based’ approach. Leopards don’t change their spots.