While directors are not expected to be accounting experts, they play an important role in ensuring the accuracy and quality of annual financial reports. Aletta Boshoff, IFRS Advisory Specialist at BDO Australia, explores the four key areas that should be front-of-mind for directors this reporting season.
Directors are primarily responsible for the provision of useful and meaningful information for investors and other users of the financial report. While directors are not expected to be accounting experts, they should seek explanation and advice supporting the accounting treatments chosen and, where appropriate, challenge the accounting estimates and treatments applied in the financial report. Directors should particularly seek advice where a treatment does not reflect their understanding of the substance of an arrangement.
In reading and reviewing the 30 June 2017 financial reports, directors should focus on the following areas:
Users of financial statements, and in particular investors and analysts, have indicated that they are particularly interested in the amount and timing of revenue recognised. Directors should therefore review the entity’s revenue recognition policies to ensure that revenue is recognised in accordance with the currently applicable accounting standards and the substance of the underlying transactions.
Impairment Testing and Asset Values
Non-financial assets are often significant assets of an entity. The value attributed to these assets may affect not only the entity’s reported financial position, but also its reported performance. Directors should therefore think carefully about the carrying amounts of non-financial assets in the entity’s financial report, as well as impairment testing of non-financial assets.
Impairment testing is the process of reviewing the values of assets shown in the balance sheet of a entity to determine whether those values continue to be supportable or should be reduced. Impairment calculations often rely on discounted cash flows and can be complex. However, directors can review management’s cash flows and assumptions, bearing in mind their knowledge of the business, its environment, the assets and future business prospects. Directors should pay particular attention to goodwill, other intangible assets and property, plant and equipment.
Major New Accounting Standards
Directors should be mindful of the disclosure requirements when an entity has not applied a new Australian Accounting Standard that has been issued but is not yet effective. The entity is required to disclose known or reasonably estimable information relevant to assessing the possible impact that application of the new Australian Accounting Standard will have on the entity’s financial statements in the period of initial application.
As at 30 June 2017, the following four Australian Accounting Standards have been issued but they are not yet effective:
- AASB 9 Financial Instruments
AASB 9 sets out a new ‘expected loss’ impairment model for those financial assets and will replace the existing ‘incurred loss’ model. Under AASB 9, the impairment model is more forward looking, in that a credit event (or impairment ‘trigger’) no longer has to occur before credit losses are recognised.
- AASB 15 Revenue from Contracts with Customers
The core principle of AASB 15 is to recognise revenue to depict the transfer of promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the entity expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services. IFRS 15 introduces a five-step revenue model to determine when to recognise revenue and at what amount.
- AASB 16 Leases
AASB 16 introduces a single lessee accounting model (all leases, finance and operating leases, will be accounted for in the same way) and requires a lessee to recognise assets and liabilities for all leases. A lessee will now be required to recognise a right-of-use asset representing its right to use the underlying leased asset and a lease liability representing its obligation to make lease payments.
- Not-for-profit entities only: AASB 1058 Income of Not-for-Profit Entities
The standard establishes principles and guidance that apply to transactions where the consideration to acquire an asset is significantly less than fair value principally to enable a not-for-profit entity to further its objectives, and the receipt of volunteer services.
These new Australian Accounting Standards come into effect over the next two to three years. Directors should therefore ensure that the notes to the 30 June 2017 financial statements disclose the impact on the future financial position and results.
Enhanced Audit Reports
For 30 June 2017 financial reports, auditors of listed entities are required to issue enhanced audit reports. These enhanced audit reports will outline key audit matters, which are those matters that required significant auditor attention in performing the audit. Directors should be mindful that these matters may relate to accounting estimates and significant accounting policy choices that also require specific disclosures in financial reports.
Aletta Boshoff is an IFRS Advisory Specialist at BDO Australia.
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