Again this month IFRS 9 and IFRS 15 take centre stage in our highlights as they are the focus of attention for market regulators and the Monitoring Board of the IFRS Foundation.
The year began quietly with few major developments relating to standards, but March has seen a whole series of projects coming to fruition. Some of these are highly concrete, with three very detailed decisions published by the IFRS IC on the application of IFRS 15, which we explore in our ‘A Closer Look’ feature. Others are much more conceptual, such as the publication of the IFRS Conceptual Framework, and still others are forward-looking and are prompted by the European Union’s action plans on sustainable development and the fitness of public reporting by companies.
With less than a year to go before the effective date of IFRS 16 on Leases, the report of the ANC’s (The French accounting standards setter) decisions on the duration of 3/6/9 leases, published in February, is certainly the most anticipated announcement for French entities. This is because it should enable most of them to resolve this thorny question in their plans for implementation. This decision will of course also be useful to entities with subsidiaries in France.
Since 1 January 2018, IFRS 9 - Financial instruments and IFRS 15 - Revenue from Contracts with Customers have been effective, as the the IASB headline announced on its website on 8 January. In parallel, work to assess the impact of IFRS 9 on long-term investment is continuing at the European level, with the publication of the outcomes of a first factual analysis by EFRAG. This research has also acted as a spur to the IASB, which has followed up the EFRAG publication by issuing two presentations of its own on the contributions of IFRS standards to financial stability and long-term investment.
2017 ended fairly quietly, since the European Commission had already endorsed several texts in November and the IASB’s December meeting decided to postpone publication of most of its texts and draft texts, with the exception of the annual improvements to IFRSs, which we discuss in this month’s ‘A closer look’ study. This being the case, the implementation of IFRS 9 and IFRS 15 in January 2018 will be more than enough to keep entities and their auditors busy, on top of the preparation of the 2017 financial statements.
Over the past decade, the IASB has been working on the process of converging IFRS with US GAAP, and this month saw EU endorsement of the remaining resulting standards. With implementation now set to go ahead, this marks the end of a chapter. The one remaining major standard awaiting endorsement – namely IFRS 17 - Insurance Contracts – was not a joint project with the FASB, and moreover is not scheduled for endorsement until the end of next year.
The IASB has put some last-minute finishing touches to IFRS 9, with an amendment on debt instruments with symmetric prepayment options and with the inclusion (in the Basis for Conclusions) of its analysis of the standard’s provisions on the modification of financial liabilities. All that remains is for the European Union to accelerate the endorsement of the amendment so that European entities do not have to switch accounting policies between 2018 and 2019!
After a quiet summer on the accounting front, September started brightly with two exposure drafts and a Practice Statement from the IASB.
July was a busier period for Europe than for the IASB. The European Commission sent two draft texts (deferred application of IFRS 9 for insurers and financial conglomerates, and IFRS 16 on Leases) to the European Parliament and Council for endorsement before the end of the year, while ESMA published three documents on financial information and its enforcement activities.
June 2017 saw the publication of IFRIC 23 – Uncertainty over Income Tax Treatments. According to this Interpretation, entities must now assume that any uncertainty over income tax treatments will be examined by the taxation authorities, and must consider the probable outcome of such examination when determining the amount of income tax to be recognised in the financial statements.
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.