Saturday, November 1, 2008

New Canadian IFRS education and reference book

A valuable reference source for converting from Canadian GAAP to IFRS

A new book from CCH Canada is a valuable addition to the financial reporting literature in Canada. iGAAP: IFRS for Canada is a comprehensive reference source to facilitate the conversion from Canadian GAAP to IFRS. It is detailed and comprehensive and consists of 2,850 pages.

Overview

The book is “intended as a comprehensive guide to International Financial Reporting Standards for readers with a working knowledge of Canadian GAAP”. It presupposes that Canadian reader will find it easier to understand IFRS from the perspective of Canadian GAAP. Of course it does assume that readers have a reasonable command of Canadian GAAP. This will be true for areas directly affecting your business or your clients business. It may not be true for other areas. This is not a showstopper since there is enough discussion to provide the main points and in any event you should be referring directly to both the Canadian GAAP source and the applicable IFRS references.

The volume is organized by financial statement topic area, but it also includes chapters on Insurance Contracts, Oil and Gas, Mining and Public Utilities.

The book is not intended to be a reference on “all things IFRS”. As the authors point out it is unlikely such a volume could exist. Even the Standards themselves need interpretation in the particular circumstances. It is not an authoritative source to be used as a bible, as the authors point out. It is an educational tool and is presented in that spirit.

The material in the book is essentially a Canadianized version of the Deloitte global firm material. Each chapter consists of the following elements:

Key requirements under IFRS

Interpretative commentary (detail depends on the subject)

Illustrative “real life” examples

Tailored introductory comments for Canadian Readers according to the authors: “These comments represent…best attempt to induce the reader into the mindset of the Standards, bring out the key concepts, organizing principles, connections with other aspects of IFRS, practical implications and again main differences with Canadian GAAP”

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)


The book contains valuable background on the IASB standard setting process itself. Chapter 45 “Research Financial Reporting Issues in IFRS” will be useful, as it provides a roadmap for researching IFRS problems and points out some of the pitfalls that you may encounter.

Who would find this book useful?

Preparers of financial statements in “publicly accountable” or other enterprises required to convert to IFRS

Preparers in other companies that might wish to follow IFRS voluntarily

Independent consultants who are involved in delivering IFRS services

Newly minted IFRS experts who will work full or part time on IFRS projects

Qualified accountants who wish to supplement other learning with a reference source

Auditors of affected companies

Regulators of affected organizations

Board and Audit Committee members who want to start to get into the details

The book is not designed for non Canadians, except perhaps those that have subsidiaries in Canada or who are investing in Canada. If you are a US IFRS expert there may be some interesting points you could glean from the book. However, it is not intended for that purpose of course.

The book is not written from the direct perspective of securities analysts but it would be useful for analysts who want to get down and dirty with IFRS. Many analysts have begun this journey already.

It is not written as a university textbook, at least in the traditional sense. I could see it being useful as supplementary material in upper intermediate or advanced courses. At $250 the price might be prohibitive for this purpose.

Commentary

One of my colleagues, a senior financial executive, commented to me that she found the book to be useful from a practical perspective. I agree with that assessment.

I test drove the book on a couple of my projects and found the material easy to find and it stimulated further thought and analysis. The book is an element in the arsenal and not a substitute for reading the standards. You should get used to reading IFRSs without reference to Canadian GAAP if you can.

I was surprised at the omission of a Chapter on “Biological Assets” (see IAS 41). This was omitted intentionally. I would like to see a chapter in a future edition as this material is a new to Canadians (we have no direct equivalent) and some entities are affected by these standards.

The usefulness of the book might be enhanced with searchable text, provided that copyright can be addressed. Some IFRS/US GAAP books have a feature providing a book/CD combination. The downside is the risk that users can take material out of context. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing indeed!

A web based version of the book will be available around Christmas time. This service will provide real time updates. There are no plans for a searchable text.

All in all I give the book an eight to nine out of ten. Well done to the authors Dr. Peter Chant FCA and John Hughes CA and all the other Deloitte contributors to the book.

Where can you get the book?

The book can be obtained directly from CCH or certain independent booksellers. It will not be available from Indigo or Amazon.

Fair disclosure

I was provided a review copy but received no compensation for this review.

1 comment:

Ian said...

There is now an online version of this book. It has been cross-linked to the IFRS standards. You can take a complimentary trial of the subscription at www.cch.ca/ifrs.