IFRS for SMEs: an emperical study of the KwaZulu-Natal SME sector.
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The Companies Act of South Africa requires companies to comply with either full IFRS or IFRS for SMEs. International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) provide a single set of accounting principles and guidelines that different countries can apply to promote comparability and understanding of financial statements. In 2009, the IASB introduced IFRS for SMEs. The objective of the IASB was to provide the SME sector with an accounting framework that was more cost effective and less complex than full IFRS. SMEs play a fundamental role in the global economy. Hence, it becomes imperative that focus is directed at developing and sustaining SMEs. International studies have been conducted to determine the effectiveness and perception of IFRS for SMEs in other countries. In South Africa studies were conducted in the early stages of implementation. This warrants further research on the perceptions of IFRS for SMEs in the SME sector subsequent to the implementation of IFRS for SMEs in South Africa. This study was undertaken with the objective of establishing whether or not the IASB’s goals of IFRS for SMEs being less complex and more cost effective are met. The study also focused on whether the SME sector has the relevant financial reporting skills to apply IFRS for SMEs. A survey was conducted with experts in the field of IFRS for SMEs. This constituted 15 academics and 15 accountants/auditors. The survey was issued to 30 respondents and the response rate was 100%. The study established that while IFRS for SMEs meets the financial reporting requirements of internal and external users, there are still some challenges that exist. IFRS for SMEs is considered difficult to understand by SME owners/management and is therefore difficult to apply by them. Hence, there is still a need for the SME sector to outsource their financial reporting requirements to independent accountants, which may prove to be costly. Improving the financial reporting skills of the SME sector may assist in reducing the outsourced accounting costs. More practical hands on training may prove to be more beneficial than the online training that is currently available for the SME sector. The knowledge generated from this research will benefit the SME sector, as well as assist Government and Accounting Regulatory Bodies to provide the necessary IFRS for SMEs support to the SME sector.