The international accounting standards board (IASB) has replaced the international accounting standards committee (IASC) in 2001 and at the same time many standards of IFRS come from the International Accounting Standards which issued by IASC. After the new standards announce, the uptrend of globalisation has pushed more and more countries on their ways of adopting the international accounting standards. The drive for IASB is a British initiative and London is the headquarters for the IASB. Natural expectation would be that at least the British business will support a British initiative.
The adoption of international accounting standards required GAAP used by the UK to ensure the consistency with the IASB’s IFRS. However, a concern is that there are substantial differences among different countries in implementation of IFRS and the notion that uniform standards will produce uniform financial reporting will cause some problems in the practical operation of accounting. As stated in the case the IASB is facing serious challenges from its home front. This essay focuses on the discussion of impacts of the adoption of IFRS, such as effects of fair value accounting, which will be analyzed and clarified. eywords: International Accounting Standard Board (IASB); International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS); Fair Value Accounting; Scientific Approach; Naturalistic Approach; Normative Theory; Positive theory. Introduction In recently years, as the rapid increase of global economic, the competition between the international businesses is getting more and more furious. A large number of countries try to find a way to be more competitive, so the multinational trading businesses are largely developed.
Even though the businesses can get much commercial opportunities from the international trading, the difference of the accounting standards between the multinational businesses is a big problem, such as, the issue of selection of the accounting standards of AstraZeneca, which possess businesses all over the world. What accounting standards should the corporations beyond the UK adopt? Do they use the standards of other countries where business operation is located or employee the British standards. It is difficult to make this decision.
If using British standards, the performance of business presented by the financial statement is not easy to estimate, because different standards cause difficulties to be understood by international markets. Such a situation could probably result in money-costing and time consuming. Therefore, some countries have adopted actively the international financial standards to solve this problem. Over 100 countries worldwide use international accounting standards on either a compulsory or on a permitted basis and more countries are expected to follow in the near future (Gannon and Ashwal, 2004).
IFRS have been accepted or recommended on a variety of industries of many countries. To comply with EU legislation, all the EU companies have been required to present financial accounts for accounting period from 1 January 2005 in accordance with IFRS. This essay will measure the impact of the adoption of IFRS in the UK. Specifically, it examines why the UK implement IFRSs and then the British businesses are upset with the IFRSs and object about the fair value concept. Why serious misgivings of many Australian businesses about the IFRSs will be analysed as well. The reasons that the UK have adopted IFRSs
What are IFRSs? International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs) are standards and interpretations adopted by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). Many of the standards forming part of IFRS are known by the older name of International Accounting Standards (IAS). IAS was issued between 1973 and 2001 by the board of the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC). In April 2001 the IASB adopted all IAS and continued their development, calling the new standards IFRS (Wikipedia 2008). Why would the UK adopted IFRSs? The reasons of such standards application are multifold.
The first reason why the UK would adopted IFRSs is that the headquarters of IASB which issued the IFRSs is located in London UK and IASB is a British institution. Natural expectation would be that at least the British business will support a British initiative. In order to supporting the British institution, the UK companies firstly adopted IFRSs. The adoption of international accounting standards required GAAP used by the UK to ensure the consistency with the IASB’s IFRS. The second reason is that adoption of IFRSs could potentially lead to a more transparent and lower-cost global capital market.
The UK might think that from aspect of accountant practice implementing IFRS could bring the benefit of reducing capital costs. As known the UK is a key capital of finances all over the world and with rapid development of global finance markets and requirement of international accordant accounting standards force accounting to be internationalization. Another reason is that in an era of globalization, the adoption of such IFRSs is increasingly desirable as it can provide greater comparability, consistency and transparency of financial information across countries and offer other benefits for investors, companies and capital markets.
Also, Complying with such accounting standards will result in the production of financial reports that could be understood by the information users in the international markets. As Fajardo stated (2007 p57), because of better financial information, the uniform financial reports could contribute to making better decision. What is more, with adoption of IFRSs the UK unlisted companies would be easier to become listed companies in New York Stock Markets, USA. IFRSs are more suitable for Listed Company and the UK companies usually go to New York market to be listed.
The USA’s financial accounting standard board (FASB), however are much stricter that under the UK’s Generally Accepted Accounting Practice (GAAP) outstanding achievement of the profit would change to the loss in the USA’s stricter standards. Implementation of IFRSs may enhance the management level of the multinational corporation in the UK as well. Accounting standards of different subsidiary company from different countries are difference which blocks interior Consolidation of Financial Statements of the multinational corporation. Why does the UK businesses upset about IASB?
The reason from ethical perspective A lack of preparation results in that they do not know how IFRS would affect a company’s financial information. Most enterprises in the UK underestimate the workload required of adopting IFRSs and they have not prepared well before they implement. The complex operation of IFRS and lack of training on IFRS adoption cause their work to be chaos and confusion. Because of lack of changes to their forecast models and valuation methods they cannot accomplish financial performance required by IFRS punctually.
A lack of communication on implications of IFRS let adoption of IFRS be more difficulty as well. Furthermore, some more professional problems need to have high technical knowledge; otherwise it is hard to be addressed. What is more, IASB reject the criticism of issues of adoption of IFRSs occurred, such as the use of fair value accounting, they just admitted that standard-setters have no success in companies objected IFRSs. The reason from technical perspective The UK business community has serious objections to adoption of IFRS in the case where there are some issues pointed out as follows.
Issue 1: Implementation of IFRS 3 is used to ensure that company accounts were generally more transparent and specifically provided more useful information. Since the end of 2005 in the UK in force adoption of IFRS 3, however was failed. A combination of failing to apply IFRS 3 properly without explanations of its limitations really means that many annual reports and accounts fail to give more transparency on business combinations; in fact, many of the reports are limited, distorted and confused. Issue 2:
The use of fair value accounting requires revaluating asset and liability which is used to measure performance of income under IFRSs. Financial statements may exhibit higher volatility under IFRS than under other accounting policies. The increased use of fair-value accounting of IAS 39 might create “artificial volatility. ” Revaluation of asset and liability is intrinsically more volatile than previously permitted historical cost measures. Many companies were concerned about this mismatch as it creates accounting earnings volatility that the underlying performance of business is underestimated. Issue 3:
The complex new standards require greater disclosure of a range of items, such as derivatives and employee stock option, pension fund deficits and off-balance-sheet finance. IFRSs required more information of numbers to be disclosed. Those required information mainly come from aspects of financial instruments and taxation. For example, IAS 1, presentation of financial statements (Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu 2008), emphasizes the disclosures of staff costs, as well as IAS 24, related party disclosures (Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu 2008), requires share-based payments of employee benefits for key management personnel to be disclosed.
Director’s salary is specified disclosures by the Companies Act. The listed rules require listed companies to make other disclosures, such as the remuneration of directors and the highest paid employees. However, so much disclosure cannot contribute managers more useful information to make better decision. So such complex standards cause problem of understanding of the reported numbers and communication to be undermined. Requirements of a mast of disclosure cause understanding problems result in time-consuming and money-wasting as well.
Issue 4: IFRSs have caused a debate in the issues of employee stock option schemes. Some heads of business think the rules would strongly affect them to attract excellent employees with ability. Under FIRS, companies are forced to deduct the cost of ordering options form earnings for the first time. This would result in sudden reductions in reported profit. As a result, employee stock options decrease to out of expected remuneration and the parts of incentive awards made up by options has fallen.
Objectors of option expense have suggested that affect to profits could make attract good staff to be impossible. Issue 5: Deficits and surpluses on company pension schemes will come on balance sheet through the full implementation of the UK standard IFRS 17 ‘Retirement Benefits’. Method of valuation of pension fund also might affect to measure performance of income statement. Because of the measurement of defined benefit pension schemes at current value, the income statement may result in higher volatility under IFRS than under other accounting policies.
British businesses object about fair value The 1947 Companies Act first introduced the concept of ‘true and fair view’ into British law, which was later adopted by the European Union in 1978 in its Fourth Directive as the ultimate criterion for financial reporting. This term appears to indicate an overriding concern for substance over form in the implementation of professional judgment; financial statements are evaluated not so much for their compliance with particular rules as their ability to create an overall picture of a company’s financial affairs (Accounting Onion).
A financial reporting standard Under GAAP in the UK is ‘true and fair’ core of standard. Undoubtedly, the use of ‘true and fair’ was significant to the British businesses. However, under IFRS the meaning of fair value is not same as the ‘fair and value’. IAS39 Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement defines fair value as ‘the amount for which an asset could be exchanged, or a liability settled, between knowledgeable, willing parties in an arm’s length transaction’ (Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu 2008).
Under IASB, fair value usually refers to buying or selling prices. ‘If it is not an active market for a financial instrument, by using a valuation technique a fair value is established by an entity…discounted cash flow analysis and option pricing models’, says IAS39. ‘A gain or loss shall be recognized in profit or loss. ’ That is to say, financial assets and financial liabilities would occur in income statement. So what affects would it result in? If all of share capitals are invested by company with fair value, the company has no assets and liabilities.
Suppose that unexpected economic recession arises, this will cause the market to be revised downwards. As a results, the market value of the company’s financial instruments rises. When the British businesses proposed to oppose fair value accounting, Tom Jones, vice-chairman of the IASB said ‘It’s not our objective to get away from economic reality. There is nothing more real than the value of an asset today,’ and ‘the standard-setter would not back down on fair value accounting’ (AccountancyAge 2008).
The fair value of an asset or a liability is that asset or liability could be bought or sold, incurred or settled in a current transaction between willing parties as quoted by Sorkin (2008), the concept of fair value accounting is correct and useful, but the application is problematic during periods of crisis. It is another one of those unintended consequences of making a rule that’s supposed to be good that turns out the other way. If available, a quoted market price in an active market is the best evidence of fair value and should be used as the basis for the measurement.
However, in many circumstances, quoted market prices are unavailable. As a result, difficulties occur when making estimates of fair value. Due to characteristic of valuate of fair value accounting and the volatility created by fair value in reported profits as stated above, it is reasonably objected by the UK businesses. Support the British business opposition to IFRSs Now I could cite an empirical evidence to support the UK businesses’ to oppose to IFRSs. According to KPMG (2008), assessment of the effects of adoption of IFRSs was done about the insurance industry by KMPG in 2006 in the UK.
They selected random 47 insurers to conduct the survey which represented that those surveyed insurers have done to covert work to IFRSs but little benefit is gained from effort. It is worth to be considered about the issues which are point out by respondents, including ? because of technical complexities, adopting IFRSs have risen the risk of financial reporting and as implementing, it take up too much management time. ? Too much additional information is required to be disclosed and it is waste time and waste money. ? It is not useful to view financial statements as a means of performance of communication and explanation. Only a fifth of respondents thought that the financial reports gave them better information of their business to make decision. ? implementation of IFRSs cannot bring widely accepted benefits and a majority of respondents believed that it was less comparability and transparency. By the mass of dissatisfactory results to IFRSs of this survey, thereby, it is reasonable to support the British business to opposite IFRSs Australia misgiving about their prospect of the IFRSs Australia enthusiastically supported IFRSs in 2005, too.
Although, without doubt, the adoption of IFRSs will definitely bring benefits to Australia, the adoption faces doubts and concerns as well. In Australia criticism of IFRSs mainly came from financial services companies, especially bank industry. According to some observers, adoption of IFRSs could not ensure the stability of financial performance. IAS 39 was opposed by many banks. Reasonably, it was threatening to bank practices and business models that were common in Australia, such as long-term fixed-rate retail loans, specific savings accounts with attached options.
As Veron (2007 p45)stated, according to this point of view, the volatility of earnings was created by ‘fair value’ accounting, especially when applied to financial instruments, and it was impossible to include cautionary provisions of a bank’s balance sheet if they had no relationship to a exactly identified risk and in the financial system had the potential of increasing systemic risk. If a clearer distinction, however, was drawn than had been the case in the past between the information demands of investors and those of prudential supervisors, it had much less acute to this risk (Borio & Walton, 2006).
Furthermore, there was a recent example which is about better information and more and more cross-border comparability on the use of financial derivatives. It therefore was impossible to be sustained in the use of IFRS in the financial statements of banks which would result in insuperable incompatibilities with the objectives of financial supervision. As evidence about the issues of adopting in bank above, Australia is reasonable to misgive about their prospect of the IFRSs. Excluding the example above there are other serious misgivings about IFRSs which are enough to let Australian businesses worry about their prospect.
Scientific arguments and naturalistic arguments Now it is time to analyse that the complaints in the case against adopting the IFRSs are scientific or naturalistic in approach. As we known, scientific approach uses highly structured approach to form a theory, and this is the approach that is used by most researchers. It is based on facts and evidences. In this case there are several scientific arguments, such as the effects of fair value about volatility on reported profits, the effects of employee stock options and pension fund deficits.
Naturalistic approach focuses on gaining knowledge of accounting in its natural setting and aims at solving individual problems which may be firm specific. It is based on emotions or sentiments. Naturalistic arguments in this case are that why the new standards are more complex and require disclose much other information, and why they are making accounts more opaque and less useful. Normative theory or positive theory So let’s think about what roles positive theory and normative theory play respectively in resolving those issues described in the case. Normative accounting theory From the point of view of Godfrey et al. 2006, p6-8), normative theories adopt an objective (ideal) stance and then specify the means of achieving the stated objective. They provide prescriptions for what should occur to achieve their stated objective. The fact that the normative theories were based on value judgements increased dissatisfaction with the normative approach as it became clear that it was difficult, and probably impossible, to obtain general acceptance of any particular normative accounting theory. The normative approach concentrates on policy recommendations and what should be done to achieve a better outcome. IFRSs ’ fair value accounting is a normative outcome.
It prescribes what should be done about fair value by accounting of businesses. The standards-setters use logical deduction to set the contents of fair value accounting and response the debate about fair value. It plays a role of prescriptive and designator about fair value accounting. Positive accounting theory As Watts and Zimmerman (1986, p. 7) stated that positive accounting theory is concerned with explaining accounting practice. It is designed to explain and predict which firms will and which firms will not use a particular accounting method…but it says nothing as to which method a firm should use.
Some positive researches provide good evidence of the impacts of the IFRSs. For example, during practising fair value accounting, the positive theory is used to describe that the businesses use their former experience about how to record value of assets and liabilities to identify what they are doing. According to the positive accounting approach, they are conscious that fair value does not address their assets and liabilities as better as before. The solutions of practising fair value are related to the actual requirements of the business.
Positive accounting theory is an approach to solving the problem of fair value accounting, not just to prescribing what should be done. The positive research provides good evidence to descript or predict which way is better to address their assets and liabilities in account. The positive approach also is mainly concerned with explaining the reasons for current practice about fair value accounting. The positive accounting theory plays a role of explanation and forecast of what is currently accepted practice of fair value accounting in this case and the process of accounting researches being out of value judge.
Conclusion Introduction of the IFRSs is to the goal of a single set of global accounting standards to make accounts more comparable and transparent. The UK and Australia enthusiastically adopt. With the implication of the IFRSs, even though benefits exist, the negative effects from the adoption must be recognised, such as fair value of IAS 39 cause volatility of profits, high disclosure requirement, and more complex operation, failure of the adoption of IFRS 3 making accounts more opaque and less useful.