How the War in Ukraine Can Affect Accounting Teams
The war between Ukraine and Russia has had ripple effects for companies and their accounting and financial reporting teams, who are now exploring issues like asset impairment and the risk of nationalization.
However, the top priority needs to be a company's people, said Mike Ruble, Partner, PwC Trust Solutions, on a podcast episode of Off the Books.
“We can deal with the accounting and numbers, but the most important thing is making sure people are safe,” Mike said.
Accounting teams with clients or employees in Russia or Ukraine have been prioritizing care for their employees while also providing relevant information and minimizing the financial impact on performance for investors and stakeholders.
For some companies, caring for employees means temporarily or permanently closing locations and advancing compensation to ensure their safety. That could lead to write-offs similar to what some businesses experienced from COVID-19 closures or differences in how expenses are recognized. In the case of advancing paychecks to employees who can’t get to work, organizations have to look differently at that expense if there is going to be a future economic benefit, Mike said. That’s part of the push and pull of what accounting teams are trying to consider, he explained on the podcast.
Evaluating asset impairment in Ukraine and Russia
With the value of assets changing rapidly during the crisis in Ukraine, accounting teams need to consider how and when operations will resume, if at all. That will be an important factor as they evaluate if writing down assets on their books is required. Mike outlined some broad steps that companies with asset impairment considerations can take:
1. Identify assets
Look into items such as inventory, customers, and accounts receivable related to the organization. Gather the numbers to determine what you had when the crisis began.
2. Evaluate tangible assets
Analyze property, plant, and equipment. If buildings have been destroyed, write off those assets. If they’re damaged, determine whether you can repair the damage, book an impairment, or adjust the depreciable life of the asset. To do this, you have to decide to what extent the organization will be able to use the assets in the future.
3. Take time for goodwill impairment testing
Amidst such uncertainty, it is important to look at objective evidence. Look to see what clients you still have in the area and how costs have changed. These are just a few questions that accounting teams need to answer to make sure that their impairment is materially correct and accurate.
Plan for the uncertain
With no way of knowing when the war may end, many organizations are questioning how to approach audits and reports.
“You have to deal with what you know as of the date that you are making these estimates,” Mike explained. He also said that the reality is some organizations are already planning for diverse scenarios such as nationalization, when a government takes over assets.
Losing control of those assets in Russia and Ukraine may result in de-consolidation, which is when the related entities would be effectively removed from a company’s consolidated financial statements and treated as investments.
To hear more from Mike’s conversation with Off the Books about the impact of the war in Ukraine on accounting, listen to the episode:
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