IFRS: the devil has the best details

We can all agree that the only thing that matters in implementing any aspect of IFRS is to proceed with a broad, sweeping vision, focusing entirely on the big picture and ignoring all the small stuff. That’s really all I wanted to say today, so I’ll wrap it up there. Oh wait, I’m being informed of some small but necessary modifications to what I just said…

June 2005 With pharmaceutical companies applying IFRS for the first time or applying the changes to IFRS in 2005, further questions have emerged. As always, the devil is in the details.

October 2007 Convergence is an objective many people are in agreement on. But as is often the case, the devil is in the details as to how one gets to a common financial reporting language.

January 2008 The goal of international comparability under IFRS is really just a mirage. Numerous countries can agree to follow a set of broad principles, but the devil is in the details.

August 2008 Indeed, in the accounting and finance department, companies will have to do a GAAP analysis and identify disclosure requirements, revise their chart of accounts, and figure out what new accounting policies and processes have to be implemented. “The devil is in the details,” she said.

November 2008 IFRS/Canadian GAAP difference points are highlighted in a box with a maple leaf beside it! (Of course, it’s all subject to the caution that the “devil is in the details”- there may be differences in particular fact situations)

December 2008 Changing the standards changes everything. The devil is in the details. The SEC made a bold move in setting a timeline for the adoption of IFRS. The many disagreements may well be resolved by the time 2014 arrives. But this subject will be hotly debated for years to come.

January 2010 “These changes are generally very large numbers that have major impacts on your financial statements,” explains Klingler. “However, keep in mind that the devil is in the details in many other areas.”

October 2010 This is why I do not believe convergence is a sustainable, long-term solution. “Similar” standards will always be different as the devil is in the details.

January 2011 It is true that there are now International Valuation Standards (IVS) but of themselves they mean little. The devil is in the details. Our best hope is the United States as they journey towards IFRS in 2014.

July 2011 Kroeker asked panelists if there were ways to mitigate costs. “In estimating costs, the devil is in the details”, Charlie Rowland, CFO of Viropharma stated. “They are hard to estimate. Will I have to change my systems? We really need to have things stop moving. We do not have a lot of money to go before the board and ask for resources while it is still moving.” Other panelists countered that there would never be a time when it stopped moving.

July 2014 With impairment testing, the devil is in the details. Common mistakes include the calculation of Carrying Amount, estimation of discount rates and application of terminal value approaches. Simple mathematical errors are also common.

March 2017 While the overall principles in IFRS 15 may sound familiar, the devil is in the details. The new standard introduces a significant amount of guidance and many new concepts on revenue recognition, cost recognition and requires significant disclosures.

May 2017 Of course the devil is in the details, and there are some instances in which IFRS 16 enters Alice in Wonderland territory. An example is a lease contract in which the lease payments are made at the beginning of the year instead of end-of-year.

June 2017 Changes in debt terms are common in today’s environment and at first glance, it may appear that IFRS 9 does not change the accounting for financial liabilities as it retains almost all of the existing guidance under IAS 39.  However, the devil is in the details.  IFRS 9 has introduced new guidance on how to account for changes in debt terms and this new requirement is expected to result in a significant change in practice for many companies.

May 2018 Staffing IFRS 17 projects was a topic that came up frequently – often followed by the phrase “our staff is flat out!”  Insurers are exiting their impact assessment phases and beginning to think about and plan how the implementation will actually happen. And like any large-scale effort, the devil is in the details.

How many readers remembered there was ever a time when people seriously thought the US might adopt IFRS in 2014? At this point, there’s probably more chance of them eliminating US GAAP as well and just letting companies file whatever they want. The devil, ladies and gentlemen, certainly won out there.

This has been another edition of our periodic series: “Great Cliches of IFRS”. The opinions expressed, insofar as they relate to the devil, are solely those of the author, and insofar as they relate to the details, are those of other people. Again, happy new year!

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