Purpose – This paper aims to critically examine the change in accounting treatment for goodwill pursuant to international financial reporting standards (IFRSs) by reference to the Australian reporting regime.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper discusses and compares the former Australian and the new IFRS treatments for goodwill. This comparison focuses on the advantages and potential complexities of the new method, with the aim of identifying the issues and challenges that preparers, independent auditors and those involved in corporate governance face in complying with the new requirements.
Findings – The paper highlights that the identification and valuation of cash-generating units and goodwill require numerous assumptions to be made in estimating fair value, value in use and recoverable amount. Considerable ambiguity and subjectivity are inherent in the IFRS requirements.
Research limitations/implications – Findings suggest that future research should examine how financial report preparers and corporate governance mechanisms are dealing with the complex change required by the new goodwill accounting treatment and how the many critical issues involved in auditing the resulting figures are being addressed.
Practical implications – The research has practical implications for financial report preparers in identifying the issues that must be addressed in complying with the international goodwill accounting treatment. In turn, the paper highlights conceptual issues of relevance to auditors in their role of providing assurance on the resulting accounting numbers. It also has implications for others involved in corporate governance, such as audit committee members, in emphasising the areas in which they should be providing oversight of the accounting judgments. These issues are of relevance in any reporting regime based on IFRSs.
Originality/value – While much has been written about the mechanics of the new goodwill accounting requirements, there has been a lack of critical research highlighting the many problems and ambiguities that will arise in the application of those rules.
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