UAE banking sector is aligning itself with new International Financial Reporting Standard, which becomes effective in 2018
Dubai-UAE: 7 March, 2017: Emirates Institute for Banking and Financial Studies (EIBFS), a regional leader in banking and finance education and training, hosted a high-level interactive workshop attended by more than 60 senior bankers and finance officers to discuss strategies being deployed by banks in the UAE to address challenges associated with the implementation of IFRS 9.
The institute welcomed financial experts from prominent local and global financial establishments including PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Emirates NBD and National Bank of Fujairah.
Comprising six lectures, the one-day workshop touched upon a variety of issues including the differences between IAS 39 and IFRS 9, potential business impact, overcoming the challenges of IFRS 9, role of regulators, and the efficacy of IFRS 9 as a safeguard to help avoid the repetition of the global financial crisis.
Explaining the context around the event, Jamal Al Jassmi, General Manager of EIBFS, said: “IFRS 9 is an International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), and is a resolute move by the regulator to avoid a recurrence of the events that led to the global financial crisis of 2008, and ensure stability in the banking sector worldwide. IFRS 9 will replace the outgoing IFRS for financial instruments, IAS 39, when it becomes effective worldwide in January 2018.”
He added: 'The UAE's banks are actively preparing for this shift, and our workshop today serves as a platform for experts piloting the transition to discuss strategies effectively. At EIBFS, we take our responsibility to educate and create more awareness among our various stakeholders on the rapidly changing financial environment and the challenges that come with it very seriously. We are committed to conducting workshops led by experts who share valuable insights on important industry developments.”
Attendees were keen to gain insights into the implementation challenges and discussed several points relevant to issues of risk and finance, impact of macroeconomic factors, IT systems and disclosures.
Madhukar Shenoy, Partner at PwC Middle East, who also made a presentation at the workshop, described IFRS 9 as “one of the most complex accounting standards ever to be issued”, and said that banks need to be ready for the multi-faceted challenges associated with its implementation. He added that the business model tests and the decision trees underlying classification, initial and subsequent measurement must be woven into financial control and risk management processes, and properly documented.
Shenoy added: “Under the new standard, impairment accounting and loan loss calculation have become highly complex – they are more art than science, and require expert judgment. Comparability between banks is severely impacted by how judgment is exercised in areas where there is room for interpretation. An added complexity is the interplay with regulatory or Basel III definitions. Regulators and auditors must be satisfied that the implementation approach meets their expectations.”
To match regulators’ expectations, Shenoy recommended that banks must ensure their auditors and regulators are kept aware of their IFRS 9 implementation plans and consulted on a timely basis. He summed up that ensuring an adequate governance over the IFRS 9 related models, audit trail and documentation, and robust and verifiable processes go a long way in satisfying regulators.
Review of credit underwriting processes was also discussed at the workshop.
Sumit Malik, Head of Credit at the National Bank of Fujairah, said: “IFRS 9 will, in my view, influence the type of business that is done. Underwriting would be impacted by the need for recognition of assets held on amortized costs or on fair value through profit and loss, and the provisioning requirements. The former would become a significant consideration for the nature of the asset to be booked. The provisioning requirements of the new standard are stringent regarding the quality and early recognition of the problems in a loan portfolio.”
Malik added: “Given these changes, assets with long tenors and low pricing could drain profitability. We have also seen existing products in the market with no fixed expiry dates, on which pricing would be affected by the new standards. As Credit Risk Officers, we need to be mindful of these changes and accept businesses that not only meet these principles, but also their structure and pricing to compensate the cost of risk.”