Half of Canadian businesses report IFRS, GAAP reporting costs in line

BY KEN TYSIAC AND SABINE VOLLMER

Transitioning to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) was costly for Canadian businesses, but research showed nearly half found the cost of preparing and auditing financial statements under IFRS in line with costs under Canadian GAAP.

Forty-seven percent of respondents polled online by the research arm of Financial Executives International Canada reported comparable costs under IFRS and Canadian GAAP. Thirty-eight percent reported higher costs under IFRS, and 15% said their companies experienced savings under IFRS, according to the survey report. Public companies in Canada formally adopted IFRS on Jan. 1, 2011.

Based on the survey, which involved 105 Canadian businesses, and data from a round table of 14 financial statement preparers, transition costs ranged from about $10,000 at the smallest participating business, a municipal organization with about $6 million in revenue, to $25.5 million at the largest participating business, a financial services company with about $30 billion in revenue.

Most respondents found transition costs were significant but manageable, and were broadly in line with what they had planned for. In addition, the survey found that:

  • A majority (62%) of companies’ transition budgets were under $500,000.
  • Nearly all respondents (96%) said transition required little or no change in their contracts, so renegotiation costs were minimal.
  • Three-fourths of respondents said they did not have to make significant changes to their IT infrastructure because systems were more flexible than they had thought.
  • Staff time was the largest transition expense item for all companies, regardless of size.


Medium-size companies were the most likely (36%) to report more trouble resolving differences between the two sets of accounting standards than anticipated. Thirty percent of small companies and 14% of large companies reported more difficulty than expected resolving differences.

“One of the key things that stood out in the study was the varied experiences Canadian companies had when it came to the transition,” FEI Canada President and Chief Executive Michael Conway said in a news release. “Smaller companies saw the transition to IFRS as generally straightforward, with larger organizations managing the transition through early planning and devoting considerable resources to the task.”

Ken Tysiac ( ktysiac@aicpa.org ) and Sabine Vollmer ( svollmer@aicpa.org ) are JofA senior editors.

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