Application of Professional Judgment
Business Research Report
Word limit: 1,200 words
“In a perfect world, investors, board members, and executives would have full confidence in companies’ financial statements. They could rely on the numbers to make intelligent estimates of the magnitude, timing, and uncertainty of future cash flows and to judge whether the resulting estimate of value was fairly represented in the current share price. And they could make wise decisions about whether to invest in or acquire a company, thus promoting the efficient allocation of capital.
Unfortunately, that’s not what happens in the real world, for several reasons. First, corporate financial statements necessarily depend on estimates and judgment calls that can be widely off the mark, even when made in good faith…..” (Sherman and Young, 20166, p.1). The above clearly shows how crucial it is for accountants to apply their professional judgment in arriving at the most reasonable / appropriate accounting choices / estimates which can be a challenging process. There is not necessarily one correct answer in most cases and therefore accountants need to be vigilant while dealing with such situations. As a new accountant, you have recently joined the accounting department of an ASX listed company. Your supervisor, the senior accountant, has sent you an email containing a Media Release (MR) from the Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC) relating to 2019 financial reports where the major concern is relating to Impairment testing and asset values. To demonstrate your understanding of the application of professional judgment applied to undertake impairment testing and asset valuations:
- you have been asked to look into the company’s annual report;
- undertake required research and
- prepare a report for presentation to other finance team members and the audit committee.
A link to the MR is provided below:
In their last meeting, the Board of Directors of your company has discussed ASIC's press release 19-143MR
Major Financial Reporting Changes and other focuses for 30 June 2019 financial reports:
Please copy and paste the above link in the browser for it to work.
Relevant extracts from the link
FOCUSES FOR 30 JUNE 2019 FINANCIAL REPORTS
2. Impairment testing and asset values
The recoverability of the carrying amounts of assets such as goodwill, other intangibles and property, plant and equipment continues to be an important area of focus. It is important for directors and auditors to ensure:
a. cash flows and assumptions are reasonable having regard to matters such as historical cash flows, economic and market conditions, and funding costs. Particularly where prior period cash flow projections have not been met, careful consideration should be given to whether current assumptions are reasonable and supportable;
b. discounted cash flows are not used to determine fair value less costs of disposal where forecasts and assumptions are not reasonable and supportable;
c. cash flows used are matched to carrying values of all assets that generate those cash flows, including inventories, receivables and tax balances;
d. discount rates and other key assumptions are reasonable and supportable;
e. cash generating units (CGUs) are not identified at too high a level, including where cash inflows for individual assets are not largely independent; and
f. for testing goodwill, CGUs are not grouped at a higher level than the operating segments or the level at which results are monitored for internal management purposes.
9. Estimates and accounting policy judgements
Disclosures regarding sources of estimation uncertainty and significant judgements in applying accounting policies are important to allow users of the financial report to assess the reported financial position and performance of an entity. Directors and auditors should ensure disclosures are made and are specific to the assets, liabilities, income and expenses of the entity.
Disclosure of key assumptions and a sensitivity analysis are important. These enable users of the financial report to make their own assessments about the carrying values of the entity’s assets and risk of impairment given the estimation uncertainty associated with many asset valuations.
The above extracts of the 2019 ASIC media release are calling for attention to be placed on the company’s practice of using professional judgments in arriving at the most reasonable estimates and then disclosing the sources or basis of their judgments leading to the accounting information in the financial reports.
Specifically, the ASIC report has pointed at the process of ‘Impairment testing and Asset Valuation’ because in carrying out the impairment testing, professional judgments are required to estimate the cash flows, the discount rates, the CGUs, the allocation of corporate assets and costs to CGUs and the appropriate use of fair values. Further, the report also highlights the need for businesses to provide sufficient disclosures around the judgments applied. The highlights of the ASIC report is strongly indicating that companies need to be vigilant in carrying out the impairment testing and asset valuation and then provide sufficient disclosures so that the users of accounting information can carry out their own assessments about the impairments of the assets in their decision making process.
To complete this assignment, you will need to select a suitable company yourself that meets the following criteria. The company must:
• be a constituent of the S&P/ASX 300 index (www.asx300list.com);
• publish audited annual financial reports in English, fully complying with IFRS or AASB standards;
• must have a 30 June year end and
• have a significant impairment presented in the annual report
Your report must address each of the following:
a) The role of professional judgment in accounting and two implications on the users of accounting information if the professional judgment has not been made in the most reasonable/appropriate manner. (5 marks)
b) Provide a detailed explanation of the impairment write-down(s) made by your company for the year ended 30 June 2019. Your explanation should include a discussion of
- the asset/s that were impaired;
- the type of estimations required to write / calculate the impairment;
- the amount of the impairment write-down and
- relevant disclosures in the 30 June 2019 financial report in relation to impairment testing (10 marks)
c) Based on your findings in part b, critically discuss whether the professional judgments used to estimate cash flows, discount rates, CGUs, allocation of corporate assets and costs to CGUs and appropriate fair values in the impairment write-down process have been reasonable / appropriate. Recommend actions (if any) for improvement in the application of professional judgments relating to these estimations. Please refer to the ASIC media release and other relevant information sources to answer the above question. (15 marks)
d) Based on your findings in part c, critically analyse to what extent the professional judgments applied on impairment write-downs satisfy the fundamental characteristics of useful financial information and the objective of financial reporting. (10 marks)
Assessment of report
The research-based report represents 15% of your total mark. Your assignment will be marked out of 60 as shown in the Report Marking Rubric on page 7 of this document and will then be converted to a mark out of 15 percent.
Report submission instructions
Before you start writing your report, it is recommended that you undertake the following (both of these can be accessed through the ‘Assessment Task’ folder on iLearn):
1. Take a look at the sample Business Research Report provided on iLearn.
Structure The report must contain the following (in this order):
• Report cover page (You can design your own cover page)
• Table of contents
• Executive summary
• Reference list
You should include relevant parts of the annual reports that you have used and referred to in your report. Do NOT attach entire annual reports. You can include the relevant parts of annual reports as screenshots rather than copying and pasting content, since it can impact the TurnitIn similarity percentage
Length Total word count limit = 1,200 words.
Your word count must be included on your cover page. Included in word count Excluded from word count
• Report cover page
• Table of contents
• Executive summary
• Reference list
Penalties for exceeding the word limit are as follows:
Word count Penalty
• 1,201 – 1,319 words- • No penalty
• 1,320 – 1,439 words- • 10% of total marks
• 1,440 or more words- • 20% of total marks
Style The report must be presented as follows:
Font: Times New Roman 12-point Spacing: 1.5 times line spacing
Margins: not less than 2.5 cm
Footer: Each page must have a footer containing the following:
S1 2020 Your SID Page number Referencing In text referencing is required for all sources used and a complete list of references must be provided using the Harvard Referencing System. A copy of the Harvard Referencing System is available under the ‘Assessment Task’ folder on iLearn. Please note that as this is a research assignment it is not appropriate to reference to textbooks or lecture slides. Plagiarism All assignments will be manually and electronically checked for plagiarism and it is extremely important that you are familiar with the policy on Academic Honesty.
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