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Part I - IFRS

Reactions to the proposed amendments intended to address concerns about the different effective dates of IFRS 9 and the forthcoming new insurance contracts standard

Feb 08, 2016

On December 9, 2015, the IASB published ED/2015/11 'Applying IFRS 9 'Financial Instruments' with IFRS 4 'Insurance Contracts' (Proposed amendments to IFRS 4)'. The comment deadline for this ED has now ended.

ED/2015/11 proposed two options for entities that issue insurance contracts within the scope of IFRS 4:

  • an option that would permit entities to reclassify, from profit or loss to other comprehensive income, some of the income or expenses arising from designated financial assets; this is the so-called overlay approach;
  • an optional temporary exemption from applying IFRS 9 for entities whose predominant activity is issuing contracts within the scope of IFRS 4; this is the so-called deferral approach.

The comment letters on the ED made available on the IASB's Web site seem to focus on two questions:

  1. Is one of the two approaches preferable?/ Can one or the other be dropped altogether?
  2. How can predominance best be determined for the deferral approach?/ What is the appropriate level for assessing predominance?

On the first question, the vast majority of respondents state that both approaches are needed. They claim that both the overlay approach and the temporary exemption from applying IFRS 9 are needed as these address different issues depending on the type of business activities and group structures. On the ends of the spectrum are the insurance industry on the one side, and user organizations on the other side. The insurance industry is asking for a deferral of IFRS 9 until the insurance standard is completed; they mostly cite cost reasons. Some user groups are asking for the overlay approach only, some very few even argue that it is best to do nothing; these respondents mainly cite lack of comparability if multiple options exist.

One level down, it is especially the deferral approach that triggers suggestions for refinement. While most respondents agree that assessing predominance is the right approach, the IASB's proposal to assess predominance "at the reporting entity level" causes confusion. Most respondents seem to believe that the IASB sees the group level as the reporting entity level. Others believe that "reporting entity level" is an empty phrase that could also mean lower levels than the group level. The question of how to treat conglomerates is important in both cases. Therefore, respondents assuming that the IASB intends testing at the group level often argue that a testing "below the reporting entity level" is needed; respondents assuming an assessment at a lower level often wonder of the implications for the group. The two possibilities that seem to emerge are:

  • Assessment is at the group level and results are cascaded down - this would leave pure insurance companies that are subsidiaries of conglomerates without the option of deferral while companies that are not subsidiaries of conglomerates would have the option.
  • Assessment is at a lower level than the group level, however, there is the question of roll-up - this could either mean that groups need to consolidate IFRS 9 and IAS 39 numbers or that qualifying subsidiaries would need to keep two sets of books - an IAS 39 one for reporting to their users and an IFRS 9 one for reporting within the group.

Expectations are currently (as communicated at the October 2015 IASB meeting) that the IASB will begin re-deliberation of the exposure draft in the second quarter of 2016. Final amendments are expected in the third quarter of 2016.

Report of the IFRS Foundation Trustees January meeting

Feb 05, 2016

On February 5, 2016, the report of the IFRS Foundation Trustees meeting in London held on January 26–28, 2016 was released.

Meeting ac­tiv­i­ties included the following:

  • Executive session — The Trustees discussed a number of important strategic issues:
    • Review of structure and effectiveness of the IFRS Foundation
    • Strategic Plan 2016 
    • Working with National Standard-Setters and regional bodies
    • Other issues.
    • Committee reports
  • IASB Chairman’s report — The Chair of the IASB provided the Trustees with an update on a number of the IASB’s technical ac­tiv­i­ties.
  • Report of the Due Process Oversight Committee (DPOC) — The Trustees received a report about the DPOC’s January 2016 meeting.
  • Investors in financial reporting event — The IFRS Foun­da­tion, with the CFA Institute, hosted an event 'Investors in Financial Reporting’.

The full report on the IFRS Foun­da­tion trustees’ meeting is available on the IASB’s Web site.

FASB adds four projects to research agenda

Feb 03, 2016

On February 3, 2016, as result of a survey of different advisory groups, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) decided to add four new financial reporting issues in its upcoming agenda discussion paper expected in the first half of 2016.

The issues to be added are:

  • Pensions and other postretirement employee benefit plans;
  • Intangible assets;
  • Distinguishing liabilities from equity; and
  • Financial performance reporting.

With the exception of intangible assets, which the IASB currently does not address in its research projects, these issues correspond with those raised by the IASB's agenda consultation respondents. Although a full analysis of the 118 responses on the IASB's Web site is not available yet, projects on Pensions and other postretirement employee benefit plans and Distinguishing liabilities from equity rank high among the research projects currently on the IASB's agenda.

Please click for the following information on the FASB's Web site:

IASB finalizes amendments to IAS 7 under its disclosure initiative

Jan 29, 2016

On January 29, 2016, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) published amendments to IAS 7 'Statement of Cash Flows'. The amendments are intended to clarify IAS 7 to improve information provided to users of financial statements about an entity's financing activities. They are effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2017, with earlier application being permitted.

The amend­ments re­quire dis­clo­sures that will en­able users of fi­nan­cial state­ments to eval­u­ate changes in li­a­bil­i­ties aris­ing from fi­nanc­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. To the extent necessary to achieve this ob­jec­tive, the IASB re­quires that the fol­low­ing changes in li­a­bil­i­ties aris­ing from fi­nanc­ing ac­tiv­i­ties are dis­closed): (i) changes from fi­nanc­ing cash flows; (ii) changes aris­ing from ob­tain­ing or los­ing con­trol of sub­sidiaries or other busi­nesses; (iii) the ef­fect of changes in for­eign ex­change rates; (iv) changes in fair val­ues; and (v) other changes.

The amendments state that one way to fulfill the new disclosure requirements is to provide a reconciliation between the opening and closing balances in the statement of financial position for liabilities arising from financing activities. This is a departure from the December 2014 exposure draft that had proposed that such a reconciliation should be required.

Finally, the amendments state that changes in liabilities arising from financing activities must be disclosed separately from changes in other assets and liabilities.

Dissenting opinion

One Board member voted against the publication of the amendments as this Board member believes that (i) the amendments may provide incomplete information about an entity’s management of liquidity, (ii) the amendments do not meet the needs of users of financial statements, and (iii) the costs of preparing the disclosure will be considerable and may outweigh the benefits.

Effective date and transition requirements

The amendments are effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2017. Earlier application is permitted. Since the amendments are being issued less than one year before the effective date, entities need not provide comparative information when they first apply the amendments.

Additional information

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IASB finalizes amendments regarding the recognition of deferred tax assets for unrealized losses

Jan 19, 2016

On January 19, 2016, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) published final amendments to IAS 12 'Income Taxes'. The IASB had concluded that the diversity in practice around the recognition of a deferred tax asset that is related to a debt instrument measured at fair value is mainly attributable to uncertainty about the application of some of the principles in IAS 12. Therefore the amendments consist of some clarifying paragraphs and an illustrating example.

The amendments in Recognition of Deferred Tax Assets for Unrealized Losses clarify the following aspects:

  • Unrealized losses on debt instruments measured at fair value and measured at cost for tax purposes give rise to a deductible temporary difference regardless of whether the debt instrument's holder expects to recover the carrying amount of the debt instrument by sale or by use.
  • The carrying amount of an asset does not limit the estimation of probable future taxable profits.
  • Estimates for future taxable profits exclude tax deductions resulting from the reversal of deductible temporary differences.
  • An entity assesses a deferred tax asset in combination with other deferred tax assets. Where tax law restricts the utilization of tax losses, an entity would assess a deferred tax asset in combination with other deferred tax assets of the same type.

The amendments are effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2017. Earlier application is permitted. As transition relief, an entity may recognize the change in opening retained earnings of the earliest comparative period on initial application. The Board has not added additional transition relief for first-time adopters.

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IASB proposes revisions to the Conceptual Framework

May 28, 2015

On May 28, 2015, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) published a comprehensive Exposure Draft (ED) containing proposals for topical areas where it considers a revision and amendment of the existing Conceptual Framework necessary. Included in the ED are proposals to revise the definitions of an asset and a liability, to introduce guidance on measurement and derecognition, and to set a framework for presentation and disclosure. The main ED is accompanied by an ED containing proposals regarding references to the Conceptual Framework in other IASB pronouncements. Comments on both EDs are due October 26, 2015.

ED/2015/3 Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting explains that the Conceptual Framework's primary purpose is to assist the IASB in developing and revising IFRSs (even though it may be useful to parties other than the IASB) and that the framework does not override any specific IFRS. Should the IASB decide to issue a new or revised pronouncement that is in conflict with the framework, the IASB will highlight the fact and explain the reasons for the departure going forward.

ED/2015/4 Updating References to the Conceptual Framework contains proposed amendments to IFRS 2, IFRS 3, IFRS 4, IFRS 6, IAS 1, IAS 8, IAS 34, SIC-27 and SIC-32 in order to update those pronouncements with regard to references to and quotes from the framework so that they refer to the revised Conceptual Framework. As the Conceptual Framework will mainly affect the IASB and its work while the proposals regarding the other pronouncements could also affect preparers, the IASB considers granting a transition period of approximately 18 months for the amendments proposed in ED/2015/4 in order to give preparers time to identify, understand and adjust to possible implications.

The IASB allows constituents an extended six months period to work their way through the document and to respond to the questions raised; hence, comment letters are to be submitted by October 26, 2015. The IASB will consider the comments received when developing the final version of the revised Conceptual Framework. The IASB aims to finalize the revised Conceptual Framework in 2016.

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