How early adoption of IFRS can give your business a boost

Kylie Meyer
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Why would a business ever choose to invest more time and money in financial reporting? You might think it’s always better to just do the minimum and stick to the usual special purpose reporting that most Kiwi company’s produce.

But when your company is serious about achieving a higher profile on an international stage, there could be some unexpected upsides to stepping up to more rigorous financial reporting. Instead of special purpose reporting, a company could benefit from adopting International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Put simply, it’s an international accounting language that crosses borders so investors or shareholders who have a reasonable level of financial knowledge can compare listed companies across the globe.  

The standards are comprehensive, consistent, transparent and universal. Different jurisdictions have their own versions of IFRS and Aotearoa is no exception. We have NZ IFRS, a local version of IFRS which includes domestic requirements for our market while ensuring we comply with IFRS. The standards are updated regularly.  

NZ IFRS and which companies must comply 

Naturally, NZ IFRS is required for publicly listed companies, whether they’re based here or internationally. For some businesses, especially household names, you’ll often see the complying information packaged up in the financial section of a glossy annual report. For other businesses, the information will be available on the Companies Office website. Privately owned New Zealand companies with assets totalling more than $66 million or revenue over $33 million must also comply with NZ IFRS. Other entities deemed ‘publicly accountable’ may also need to report under NZ IFRS, for example regulated entities such as banks or insurers. 

Adopting IFRS sends a clear message your company is ready for the big leagues 

If your company doesn’t meet the threshold for mandatory adoption of IFRS, why would you choose to opt into the standards?  

Attracting the right buyers at the right price 

The first and biggest motivator is the prospect of a sale. Reporting under IFRS makes a company more attractive in the international marketplace. If your company has the potential to be purchased by a global corporation as a subsidiary, that potential buyer will be an IFRS reporter. By stepping up to IFRS, your company can be assessed more easily and accurately by the prospective purchaser. We’ve seen many Kiwi companies sold overseas in recent years, from huge sales like Vend ($455 million) and Timely (around $100 million), through to high-performing SMEs and farms.  

IFRS shows you’re speaking the same language, and that your company can easily slot into their own reporting regime. It also demonstrates that your business has the capability and capacity to comply with IFRS. Because this level of reporting is more complex, and requires a higher level of sophistication, it shows a purchaser that your company has the acumen and expertise to be a major asset on the balance sheet. 

Stepping up your capital raising game 

Another important motivator of switching to NZ IFRS early is fundraising. If your business is seeking to raise money from the capital markets, adopting higher-level reporting can help investors make a more informed decision. It can give them confidence in your company and allows them to have a more in-depth understanding of precisely how the company is performing.  

And, if your company is dealing in complex financial instruments such as hedging, foreign exchange or derivatives, there is no information in special purpose reporting that tells you how to treat these. NZ IFRS provides clear guidance about reporting on these types of activities.  

IFRS produces higher-quality financial statements  

Financial statements produced under NZ IFRS are considerably more accurate than those produced under the special purpose financial reporting framework. A higher level of scrutiny is applied across your organisation’s financials, and the standards themselves provide guidance about how to improve the accuracy of your statements.  

Here’s some examples to highlight how they differ: 

  • If your company has $1m debtors owing at the end of the financial year, special purpose reporting will value that at $1m. That’s a straightforward way to account for those monies owed. In contrast, NZ IFRS demands a closer look at the outstanding invoices. If the company historically sees a 5% rate of default, your NZ IFRS financial statements will provision for that and value the accounts receivable at $950k. This is a more accurate valuation of the receivable invoices.  
  • When a business exports goods, once the goods are on a ship and on their way overseas, they are invoiced and recorded as a sale. Under NZ IFRS, those goods might not actually be sold until they land at the receiving port – the sale would be reversed back into inventory until the product arrives and ownership passes.  
  • Unlike special purpose reporting, NZ IFRS requires right-of-use values for leased assets, which needs some detailed calculations to capture.    

There are hundreds more rules like these that contribute to IFRS providing much more detailed and accurate accounts. If you adopt IFRS, the quality of your accounts is going to be significantly higher, and it could change your final numbers quite substantially.

Making a decision about whether to adopt NZ IFRS 

Adopting NZ IFRS does involve extra work and higher costs. You certainly wouldn’t adopt these standards lightly. Ideally, you should consider the costs and benefits to the business – is it worthwhile? If IFRS statements could make the difference between a sale or no sale, or maximise the value of your company, it could be an investment with a very impressive return.  

It won’t be right for every business, but for up-and-coming companies with great acquisition prospects, NZ IFRS can show you’re ready for the big stage.