Key COVID-19 considerations for your IFRS 17 programme

31 March 2020

March is proving an eventful month for business and society. On the one hand, the IASB Board has delayed the effective date of IFRS 17 by one year, providing more time to implement the standard. On the other hand, this is amidst the global challenge of COVID-19 which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. 

The two are clearly very separate things; but connected coincidentally by timing. As we adapt and change to protect ourselves and our communities from COVID-19, it’s likely we’ll be making adaptations and changes to our IFRS 17 plans, or indeed re-plans, at this exact same time.

In the last few weeks, we’ve had a number of conversations with clients and friends on IFRS 17 programmes asking how their organisations and programme management teams should respond. There is a clear concern that IFRS 17 programmes have developed rhythm and scale, and stopping or slowing down now would not be welcomed.  

Here are a few ideas you could consider:

  • All IFRS 17 adopters are now re-looking at their plans.  Have you considered the revised critical path for your IFRS 17 implementation? Thinking through the critical path milestones is the key step to determining how to use the time most effectively.  In the programmes we are supporting, we are also taking into account the impact of home working, specifically where it will slow activities such as testing, business readiness and new tool / process adoption or embedding.  
  • It is imperative that we now communicate effectively with our teams. Over-communication beats under-communication. How effective are your programme communications? Uncertainty around the business continuity plan, or changes to the IFRS 17 programme plan, could have a multiplier effect and set back productivity considerably.  Clearly, the primary communications must concern team security and societal safety, however secondary communications should enable the maintenance of activity. At PwC, we are finding daily huddling at the team level, with a shared plan or metric dashboard as a meeting platform, is a critical enabler to maintaining momentum. While for many this is standard practice, we would recommend it to all.  
  • Many IFRS 17 programmes use a global mix of resources, and are working across multiple territories. International travel is now being severely restricted in many parts of the world. Is travel necessary, and how do you operate without physical co-location? Our PwC teams remote work frequently and often as standard.  Through this they have developed some key practices that should be used to support online teamwork sessions. In addition to well-structured agendas, some selected techniques include rotating speakers (mixing the voices and narratives), online polling (to gauge meeting effectiveness), offline problem solving breakouts (using a seperate media or chat space to promote small group working), and online question mechanism (to elicit whole team participation).  

Our key observation would be to maintain focus, and where feasible, not lose momentum on the IFRS 17 programme. There may be a temptation to take 'time out' for some good practical reasons. However, allowing the change in timeline to turn into a 3/4 month hiatus could prove potentially irrecoverable time for some programmes.

Alex Bertolotti

Alex Bertolotti | Partner, Global IFRS 17 Lead
Profile | Email | +44 (0)7525 298694

Tom Brown | Partner
Profile | Email |  +44 (0)20 7804 0722

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