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ICAEW report on non-comparable disclosure under IFRS

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Jul 31, 2017

On July 31, 2017, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) released a report "Disclosure quality and international comparability under IFRS: evidence from pension discount rates, impairment and capitalisation of development costs" that argues that non-comparable disclosure under IFRS is a problem.

The report is addressed to practitioners such as financial analysts, finance directors, audit partners and IFRS technical departments in audit firms to alert them to the findings of an investigation into international differences in IFRS practice. Data was collected from over 500 firms in 15 countries.

Of the three areas investigated (pension discount rates, impairment charges and capitalization of development costs), the topic with the largest amount of non-comparable disclosure was pension discount rates: only 67% of financial statements examined were found to be comparable for analysis. The authors note that pension discount rates were often not distinguished by country and were disclosed as a relatively wide range. Additionally, although an IFRS requirement, many companies do not provide comparable disclosure on the duration of the pension obligation. The authors sum up their findings:

This is an issue of non-comparable disclosure under IFRS. The severity of the problem varies by country, but as a data problem it should be of interest to analysts. Some of the thinness in disclosures may be due to immateriality but we suspect some non-compliance with IFRS disclosure requirements, which should concern auditors, the IASB and regulators.

Review the press release and the full report on the ICAEW's website.

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