Accounting News Roundup: Deloitte and AWS; Can Non-GAAP Improve GAAP? | 02.16.17

By | February 16, 2017

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Just when I thought everyone was done pushing the cloud and the world had finally accepted that the cloud is simply the internet and we’re all using it all the time, here comes Deloitte with a new cloud thing:

Consulting giant Deloitte is forming a new cloud practice dedicated to Amazon Web Services. Deloitte said the AWS practice will house roughly 2,500 consultants globally who will advise enterprises on how to build cloud-based applications using AWS’ architecture.

Okay, a partnership between Deloitte and Amazon is probably a big deal. Still, there’s things like this being said:

“Integrating cloud-based technologies is not like dumping data from a CD onto a hard drive,” said Matt Law, principal for Deloitte Consulting. “It’s more like turning the CD into a unicorn.

This is going to give people nightmares.

SEC enforcement

Here’s an interesting Wall Street Journal article on a quiet move made by the acting chair of the SEC, Michael Piwowar. It revokes the subpoena powers of the enforcement staff, handing back the authority to the division’s director. The article suggests that this could be a sign of the beginning of a re-centralizing of power at the SEC:

Mr. Piwowar’s decision this year on enforcement could be a first step toward a more fundamental change—going back to a system that required SEC commissioners, who are presidential appointees and confirmed by the Senate, approve all formal investigations. A majority of the commission would need to authorize the change.

Even if investigation authority isn’t fully returned to the commissioners, simply handing the authority back to the enforcement director will likely reduce the number of investigations by the SEC. That would likely put an end to the record numbers of enforcement actions from the past few years.

Adventures in non-GAAP accounting

As we’ve documented in these pages, lots of people worry about the widespread use of non-GAAP accounting metrics. But FASB chair Russ Golden sees a silver lining in all this pervasive non-GAAP stuff. Here’s a blog post he wrote on the subject, where he said some things that will give GAAP purists heartburn:

As a standard setter, I find the same trend intriguing. I often ask myself: Are these companies—deliberately or otherwise—sending us a signal about ways to improve GAAP?

It’s an interesting theory, but I have to ask — If companies really wanted certain non-GAAP things to become GAAP, couldn’t they just send a letter? Why would they be all stealthy about it? On the surface, a company using a bunch of non-GAAP metrics wants to appear to be pulling the wool over investors’ eyes, but their real plan is to use it as coded language to influence the FASB’s rulemaking? Okay, sure. Let’s just go with it.

Anyway, here’s more from Golden that’s bound to make the GAAP fundamentalists cry heresy:

Another way to learn from non-GAAP measures is to identify cases in which changes to GAAP might reduce the need for non-GAAP reporting. Some non-GAAP reporting develops because investors request and help shape the information provided by companies. Changing GAAP in these situations can help develop a standardized approach that is more consistent with common reporting practices that investors find useful. In other words, it would improve the credibility of financial reporting.

I’m looking forward to reading the fanatical hate mail he’s going to receive.

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