Now that the shock of the British move to exit the European Union is settling into reality, companies need to carefully consider how they might be exposed to new risks to assure they are reflected in the company’s accounting and financial reporting.
PwC published an alert soon after the stunning Brexit vote saying companies can expect near term and long-term issues with currency and stock market volatility, import-export uncertainty, changes in UK and EU growth rates, deregulation, and immigration issues. After a few months of considering the possible fallout effects, Beth Paul, a partner at PwC, says there are at least four broad areas companies will need to consider that could affect their accounting and reporting. Those include the prospect of currency volatility, hedging, impairments, and disclosures.
With respect to currency, Paul says, companies need to take stock of where they may have exposure to the British currency and revisit their currency risk management strategies and related disclosures. Currency volatility, after all, can lead to earnings volatility, she points out. Companies that manage their exposure with hedging will need to reconsider whether those hedges are effective in the current environment as well.
Even further, the overall hedging strategy may need to be revisited to the extent it relies on sales forecasts. Market uncertainty could lead to reduced consumer spending, Paul says, so that could affect the effectiveness of the company’s hedge accounting. And if a company can no longer rely on its forecasted sales, that means amounts previously recognized in other comprehensive income may need to be reclassified and reflected through the income statement.
As for impairments, changes in forecasted sales could also impact cash flow projections, Paul points out. That could trigger impairment testing for goodwill, intangible assets, or long-lived assets, like plants or equipment, she says. And if there are changes in cash flow projections, that could cascade even further to affect the recoverability of deferred tax assets.
All of this suggests additional disclosure may be warranted to explain risk factors, critical accounting estimates, and changes in assumptions that could affect the company’s financial results, Paul says. “For example, a company may decide it would be beneficial to include a sensitivity analysis on currency movements or provide disclosures of the extent to which fair value exceeds the carrying value for goodwill in close call situations,” she writes.