Too bad accounting standard simplification doesn’t follow the same rules as Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Eliminating the available for sale security classification doesn’t exactly spark the joy. Every time the FASB drops a new Accounting Standard Update (ASU), it leaves you feeling weary. Maybe all the U.S. GAAP decluttering and other […]
I'm sure working at the FASB is harder than I imagine it to be. What I imagine it to be is a bunch of people who like to read about accounting reading a lot about accounting. Then every once in awhile a few people get together to kick around crazy ideas about how to make […]
According to Richard Thaler, “If you want to encourage someone to do something, make it easy.” Man, did accountants miss that memo. We really can’t deny it… it comes across in our nitpicky GAAP rules. More billable work for us, I guess, but, there has to be a better way. At least the FASB was […]
I don't quite remember when I first learned about the concept of materiality, but my hunch is that it was in the first accounting class I ever took, which was in high school. That suggests, to me anyway, that the concept of materiality is elementary to accounting. That is, you know a debit from a […]
AICPA President, CEO and former Mr. Universe Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA wrote a letter to the Financial Accounting Foundation recently to provide feedback on the FAF's review of the Private Company Council. This in and of itself, is not all that interesting, although you get the distinct impression that AICPA relishes in the opportunity to […]
I like this Tom Selling post about the FASB's simplification of presenting debt issuances costs. I like it mainly because he picks apart the FASB's idea of what constitutes "simplification" as well as the Board's rationale for their decisions to the point where you have a hard time believing that the FASB actually issued this […]
Alright so I lied, FASB isn't going to quit smoking. What they are doing, however, is laying out their goals for 2015 for all of us to see. Chairman Russ Golden writes: I’d like to share with you how we plan to “get it done” in 2015—how we’ll build upon the successes of 2014 while […]
This week, the AICPA Conference on Current SEC and PCAOB Developments is going down in Washington and unfortunately I am missing it this year as I'm due in Dallas this week for AccountingWEB Live which is exponentially more exciting (or something). Today, SEC Chief Accountant Jim Schnurr reiterated the commission's commitment to pussyfooting around any […]
Accounting rules are complex. It is known. The Financial Accounting Standards Board, in an effort to serve its stakeholders, has made it a priority to make them a little less awful. This is no small feat and Russ Golden, FASB Chairman, is looking for tap-ins: “Complexity in accounting can be costly to both investors and […]
Funny that the IASB and FASB working together on a new lease accounting standard was totally kumbaya up until recently, when everything fell apart and both sides realized this convergadoption thing is totally never going to happen. Too bad, joining forces on revenue recognition made it seem so likely despite the fact that everyone including […]
Hans Hoogervorst doesn’t sound at all passive aggressive here or anything:
The IASB has been frustrated with heel-dragging on this side of the pond for as long as the U.S. has been pretending to work toward adopting international financial reporting standards. Despite the fact that only a few short weeks ago, we thought progress on shared revenue recognition rules meant promise for convergadoption. At that time, […]
The Financial Accounting Standards Board has finalized its new accounting rule around repurchase agreements to assure similar transactions receive similar accounting treatment going forward. FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2014-11 to revise the rules around repurchase-to-maturity transactions, along with repurchase financings and related disclosures. The guidance changes the accounting for repurchase-to-maturity transactions and repurchase […]
You will note that a bound copy of GAAP comes in at 7,692 pages (as of 2011). By comparison, the Guinness Book of World Records' thickest book published — Agatha Christie's Miss Marple stories — comes in at 4,032 pages. Knowing this, FASB is attempting to shave off a page or two off the beast […]
Knowing us, you can guess where we're going with this. We're not writing a how-to guide on the new revenue recognition rules, which brings us straight to our first thing you need to know: there are folks in the know available to walk you through it. #1: A transition resource group is here to help […]
So, who has the cake? In honor of the 40th anniversary of FASB, FAF has rolled out a new section on its website featuring audio, transcripts and photos from the September’s [email protected] Conference among other things, like video of all former, still living chairmen (I like how they qualified the "living" part in the email […]
Ace Ltd. (ACE) Chief Executive Officer Evan Greenberg said the push for new U.S. accounting standards may distract investors from the most useful metrics in gauging insurers’ financial status. “I don’t know whose benefit you’re ultimately serving except a bunch of academics,” Greenberg said today on a conference call. The Financial Accounting Standards Board proposed in June […]
James Kroeker, 44, will be a vice chairman of the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board, the board's parent organization, the Financial Accounting Foundation said in a statement on Wednesday. Kroeker is known for handling difficult policy decisions during the 2008-2009 financial crisis and will face projects that have been slowed by disagreements between board members and […]
On Tuesday we discussed the AICPA's effort to offer a new OCBOA for small businesses, making special note of the Financial Accounting Foundation's slightly irritated response. While the FAF was fine with Melancon & Co. issuing the new Financial Reporting Framework (FRF) for SMEs, they wanted to remind everyone that FRF was most certainly not […]
What's that you say, Hans? No one wants more liabilities on their balance sheet? "Obviously, this standard is not a very popular one," IASB chief Hans Hoogervorst said in a conference call. "Generally, companies like off-balance-sheet financing" and the standard will put an end to a major part of it, he said. Well, that's […]
Right now, the FASB and IASB are nowhere near agreeing on how loan loss accounting should be done and fifteen (!!!) banks including Bank of America, JPMorgan, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo would like the rulemaking bods to get their act together: While we acknowledge the difficulty inherent in reconciling disparate points of view, we […]
Since FASB Statement No. 13 was issued in the mid-70s, businesses have managed to develop a lot of creative ways for classifying some of their future obligations as operating leases, thus keeping those debts off their balance sheets. That's handy for all kinds of reasons, but some people think that it's a very bad thing. Solution? […]
Russell Golden will be your new FASB Chairman effective July 1st. He's been at the Board since 2004, after being a partner in Deloitte's National Office Accounting Services department. Since joining the FASB, he's held various technical positions and even chaired the Emerging Issues Task Force for a time. He has all the chops that you'd want […]
The idea behind the FASB's credit loss proposal is that it would require banks to report the future losses they expect to incur on their loan portfolios. If you think that would require a lot of judgment — or maybe a Magic 8 Ball — you'd be right! The FASB proposal would allow banks to use their […]
Everybody's sick of banks being too big to fail. The only thing Americans ever liked that was too big to fail was Oprah Winfrey. Then she lost some weight, and then she started OWN. So for a while she wasn't too big, and now she clearly failed. Problem solved! For Oprah, not for banks. So […]
Banks really appreciate the effort to move away from the recognition of losses as they occur approach, FASB, but: The American Bankers Association has published a “frequently asked questions” document reacting to FASB's approach. The group sees FASB's proposal as an improvement over the existing requirement, but still has concerns. “While the incurred loss […]
Back in November the IASB came up with the idea to start a new cool club called the Accounting Standards Advisory Forum. It was going to include 12 elite members of accounting rule wonkery that would be at the forefront of global financial reporting. There was one major to joining the ASAF, however, and that was […]
You know those friends who don't celebrate their birthday, rather they celebrate their birthday week? That's basically what we've got here with the Financial Accounting Foundation's announcement that there will be all kinds of reminders of the FASB's fortieth anniversary: [A] variety of events and activities intended to highlight the important role that the FASB […]
Apparently Accounting Standards Update No. 2011-03 didn't quite hold things together as well as people would have hoped: FASB's newest proposal is meant to address more recent concerns that current accounting requirements do not yet appropriately reflect a entity's obligations and risks resulting from repurchase agreements, said FASB Chairman Leslie Seidman in a prepared statement. […]
The last ten years haven't gone exactly the way the bookworms at the FASB wanted. The Norwalk Agreement, signed in 2002, was supposed to be the first step in resolving the differences between international financial reporting standards and Almighty U.S. GAAP. Alas, despite a lot of agreeing, disagreeing, and agreeing to disagree we've ended up […]
Thank you, readers, for forwarding your spam to us. @going_concern Kindly help me complete this survey on the proposed lease reforms surveymonkey.com/s/LKFDN8P — MachO (@bakersavi) September 24, 2012 The best way to complete the survey is to click the delete button located near the top of your Outlook window. But don't worry. A less optimal […]
~ Update includes quotes from Financial Accounting Foundation spokesperson. FEI (via BNA Bloomberg which requires a subscription) reports that the search is on for a successor to Leslie Seidman as the head of the FASB. The Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF), which oversees the FASB, has launched a search for a successor chair to current FASB […]
All those carrying value versus fair value exercises? Yeah, the nerds in Norwalk say you can skip those, unless – and I'm stealing this example from Compliance Week – you've got a new Coke situation on your hands: The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) today issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2012-02, Intangibles–Goodwill and Other (Topic 350): […]
A little bird told me that today is FASB Chair Leslie Seidman's 50th birthday. Our source says that she happened to mention it last night during her keynote address at the annual dinner for the American Women's Society of CPAs' New York City chapter. Fifty is a big one so we here at Going Concern would like […]
Welcome back to Saturday, folks. Once again, Saturday Open Thread is your opportunity to air any grievances, talk about your week, complain about failing the CPA exam, or berate Colin for the purple shirt he wore to the PCAOB open meeting on Wednesday. Let it all out, it'll help you head into Monday feeling slightly […]
Turns out, everyone is befuddled by the definition of "nonpublic entity": The Financial Accounting Standards Board has added a new project to its agenda to re-examine the definition of a “nonpublic entity,” as part of its efforts to reach out more to private company constituents. […] The decision by FASB chair Leslie F. Seidman to add […]
Chuck Noski was CFO of BofA for only one year and is still a vice chairman at the bank and is probably a very competent individual but Jesus, has the Financial Accounting Foundation no sense of the reputation of this particular bank? Further, have they heard nothing about the collective reputation of banks these days?
Mr. Noski’s appointment was announced by John J. Brennan, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF). The FAF is responsible for the oversight, administration, and financing of the FASB and its counterpart for state and local governments, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).
“With his breadth of experience in corporate finance across a range of industries, Chuck Noski will bring to the FASAC a deep understanding of the complex issues facing the FASB as it seeks to serve the best interests of all those who use, prepare, and audit financial statements,” Mr. Brennan said. “We are very pleased to welcome him as the new FASAC chairman.”
At least the ABA will have a direct line for their hate mail now.
Because, you know, it’s sorta tricky and it didn’t really turn out so well for Corzine & Co.
The SEC is in talks with the Financial Accounting Standards Board, which sets accounting standards, about “repurchase-to- maturity” agreements that MF Global used in off-balance-sheet accounting, Schapiro said today during a hearing before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee in Washington. “We are talking with FASB about whether we need more disclosure of those,” Schapiro said.
Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) seems a little more urgent:
“How is it possible that someone is able to bet the farm here, multiple times, and it disappears from the balance sheet because of this repo-to-maturity technique?” asked Senator Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, noting that the technique made it appear as though the risk had been “sold.”
“That is a loophole so big you can drive a Mack truck through it,” Conrad said. “If that’s not closed, we should ask ourselves what we’re doing.”
I think we all know what a lot of people at the SEC are doing.
“The simple truth is that when you have two independent, highly competent boards, sometimes they will agree with each other, and other times they will not,” he said. “It’s not that one is right and the other wrong; they just reach different conclusions. The same would be true if I were to split my board in two and ask them to consider 10 projects. I doubt each smaller board would reach identical conclusions on all 10 projects, so convergence would require compromises to be made. Convergence therefore does not always result in the highest quality outcome. It has served its purpose, but now it is time to move on. [AT]
In a November 15 letter to the SEC, FAF chairman John J. Brennan wrote that reducing FASB’s role in setting U.S. financial reporting standards “may weaken the positive leverage that U.S. GAAP and U.S. standard setting have provided to improving accounting standards for investors in the world’s most robust and transparent capital markets.” The FAF also disputed the SEC staff’s proposed goal of achieving one set of global accounting standards. Instead, the organization feels that “a more practical goal for the foreseeable future is to achieve highly comparable (but not necessarily identical) financial reporting standards among the most developed capital markets that are based on a common set of international standards.” [CFO]
The aim is for companies across the world to recognise revenue consistently as part of wider efforts to forge a single set of global acccounting rules to help investors. The core principle that a company must recognise income from contracts when it transfers the goods or services to the customer remains unchanged. But the proposal has been simplified in parts and contains more guidance after several sectors like construction and telecoms raised concerns. “Our proposals will give analysts and investors the confidence that revenue is being presented on a consistent basis, across industries and continents,” IASB Chairman Hans Hoogervorst said in a statement. “We plan to conduct additional outreach with interested parties during the comment period to help people understand the proposed guidance and to listen to any remaining concerns,” said FASB Chairman Leslie Seidman. [Reuters]
Thirty three state CPA societies have reached out to the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) or passed regulations urging it to create a new board to write differential financial reporting standards for private companies. Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming all feel FASB’s current standards setting process does not adequately address the needs of the private company sector.
“In today’s business world it is extremely rare to get an overwhelming consensus supporting one idea. However, the responses from the state societies are another example of the CPA profession’s overwhelming support for an independent board to set differential standards for private businesses,” said Barry Melancon, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) president and CEO. “The message is clear; FAF must do this now or run the risk of missing our best opportunity to make GAAP relevant for private companies.” The thirty three states in agreement on this issue represent some 275,000 CPAs.
These state societies basically told FAF that GAAP has become too complex, and the cost associated with GAAP-based financial reporting has become too much of a pain in the assets for private companies, placing an unnecessary burden on these companies with little benefit to financial statement users as a result of this effort. Personally I think the states here are forgetting that the complexity of GAAP and its esoteric intricacies keep a lot of CPAs gainfully employed, as someone actually has to analyze, manipulate, audit and teach that crap. CPA review instructors need to sell FAR videos. Caleb and I need things to make fun of, like SEC Chief Accountant James Kroeker reminding a PACE University IFRS discussion that the P in GAAP stands for principles. Right. Like we forgot.
Anyway, nearly 3,000 letters have been sent to FAF from the private company constituency in support of this separate board for private company reporting standard setting. Maybe FASB has too much to do and too many clever interns to train. Maybe FASB has lost its public company influence and this is just the first step in the coup to overthrow it. I haven’t heard very many pushing for more FASs directly handed down from (mostly) European accounting standard setters but that’s an argument for a different day.
“The boards of more than half of the country’s state CPA societies, representing more than a quarter of a million CPAs, agree that a systemic problem exists,” stated Paul V. Stahlin, chairman of the AICPA. “After over 30 years of research by numerous diverse and independent groups, the only conclusion is that an autonomous standard-setting body under FAF to set differential standards for privately held companies must be created.”
Must be. There’s no way around that.
And for those interested, here’s a tl;dr PwC report tangentially related to private company accounting standards you can read. Perfect for a Friday.
Floored. Just floored.
Financial Accounting Standards Board chair Leslie Seidman said that many of the priority projects slated for convergence with the International Accounting Standards Board probably will not be settled until next year at the earliest.
Les will have all you haters know that this adjusted timeline has been well received by those that are taking this shit seriously:
This is a real process with real outreach and real consideration of the issues that have been raised. And the fact of the matter is that it takes time to work through these issues. The changes which we have made to the timetable, which we have made jointly with the IASB, have been very well received among the constituents who take this process seriously. They are very supportive of our strong commitment to making sure that we end up with improved standards here that are going to stand the test of time.
So if you were expecting Fisher Price accounting rules, you can forget it. These beautiful babes will be used to line up the debits and credits when Spacely Sprockets finally breaks ground.
Ed. note: If you’re desperate for career advice from a couple of Big 4 refugees or someone who won’t bother sitting for the CPA Exam, shoot us an email at [email protected]. Thanks for your support of Going Concern.
A reader asks on behalf of a “friend”… right:
A friend of mine was accepted as one of the FASB interns right out of his master’s program, and was wondering what he can expect regarding salary/perks when he is done with the internship. They choose 12 total people per year. His email would give away his name, so I had to send it.
We are not looking for specific numbers, rather, with your past experience, would you expect firms to offer higher salary and perks osed “elite” position? He merely wants a 2nd year salary and to get his CPA bonus and materials paid for (since he lost these benefits by declining his current offer from one of the Big 4.
Young and Naive.
First off, Y&N, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out here that we don’t make a habit of publishing email addresses under any circumstances, so in the future, your “friend” is welcome to get in touch directly and we will not blab to everyone about “his” business. Then again, with 12 folks entering this “elite” position, it’s not that hard to narrow down the choices and figure out who is who. But who cares?
You mentioned that your “friend” turned down a Big 4 offer (presumably to take this FASB internship) so what are you, er, he thinking is going to happen when the internship is over? All Big 4 firms pay for CPA review, most of the larger firms offer some sort of CPA bonus so he’d be wise to get as much done as he can during the internship so he can knock out that last part just after the ink has dried on his offer letter and get the larger bonus offered.
That said, not sure if you’ve heard but FASB isn’t exactly the elite accounting standard setting body it once was back in the days before mark-to-market. It’s hard to tell you – er, your “friend” – how valuable this internship will be without knowing more about what it entails. If it’s some legitimately elite program that only a handful of accounting students qualify for every year that will teach your “friend” the ins and outs of accounting standard setting under the watchful guise of seasoned pros, perhaps your “friend” will have a little leverage when it comes to negotiating a better payout in public accounting after leaving FASB but I wouldn’t expect to be pulling 6 figures or anything. In fact, I wouldn’t expect much at all beyond the usual salary bump one gets for being a high performing MAcc student with skills beyond binge drinking.
Could this be the Postgraduate Technical Assistant Program, by chance? You don’t have to tell us, lest your “friend” get put on blast, just asking.
Obviously this valuable experience will put your “friend” a step above slackers, and will teach your “friend” all sorts of marketable skills such as time management, prioritization and critical thinking in the scope of accounting, not to mention offer all sorts of networking opportunities should your “friend” decide to stay or return to the realm of policy over public drudge work. In the long run, these skills will probably be worth more (figuratively, not literally in the sense of buckets of cash delivered to this person’s front door just for being such a talented human being) than any imagined huge salary perk your “friend” is expecting for coming into public with this experience.
This experience will get your “friend” into the Big 4 if that is the route “he” wants to take, and “he” may even be able to play “make the firms fight over who gets to have me” but “he” will likely have to put in blood, sweat, tears and – most importantly – time just like the rest of the grunts to make the big money.
Will “he” have a competitive advantage? Yes. Is that worth more money in the big picture of things? Yes. Is your “friend” going to be offered $30k more than his “average” MAcc classmate just because he went through this program? Doubtful. Is his lifetime earning potential slightly more due to the experience, knowledge and connections he will gain through this program? Totally.
Why did you write us to ask this? Just to have people congratulate you – er, your “friend” – for nailing such a “supposed ‘elite’ position?”
Representatives of large institutional investors told the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday that they had serious qualms about the London-based International Accounting Standards Board replacing the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board as the primary arbiter of accounting rules in this country.
Speaking at an SEC panel focusing on investor views of international financial reporting standards, the representatives roundly supported the goal of establishing a single set of high-quality global financial reporting standards in the United States in the form of IFRS. But they suggested that the IASB, the current promulgator of IFRS, lacks the backbone and outreach capability of FASB — qualities that would be needed for a global system to succeed. [CFO]
Because, god, wouldn’t that be awkward?
The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the US-based Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) agreed today to re-expose their revised proposals for a common revenue recognition standard. Re-exposing the revised proposals will provide interested parties with an opportunity to comment on revisions the boards have undertaken since the publication of an exposure draft on revenue recognition in June 2010.
It was the unanimous view of the boards that while there was no formal due process requirement to re-expose the proposals it was appropriate to go beyond established due process given the importance of the revenue number to all companies and the need to take all possible steps to avoid unintended consequences.
Sir David Tweedie admits that, “It is important that we get this right, first time,” and “the boards and staff have undertaken an unprecedented level of outreach to get us to this point, and why we are keen to treble-check that our conclusions are robust and can be implemented with minimal disruption.”
Maybe I’m reading too much into that statement but it sounds as though the Boards may be trying to stave off more nasty letters.
[via FAF/IFRS Foundation]
The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) today issued new guidance on fair value measurement and disclosure requirements for International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs) and US generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
The guidance, set out in IFRS 13 Fair Value Measurement and an update to Topic 820 in the FASB’s Accounting Standards Codification® (formerly referred to as SFAS 157), completes a major project of the boards’ joint work to improve IFRSs and US GAAP and to bring about their convergence.
The harmonisation of fair value measurement and disclosure requirements internationally also forms an important element of the boards’ response to the global financial crisis.
Of course what’s most important is that wily Scotsman and knight of the double-entry roundtable Sir David Tweedie will be able to call it a career knowing that he saw this thing through. He sounds pretty pleased with the effort saying, “The finalisation of this project marks the completion of a major convergence project and is a fundamentally important element of our joint response to the global financial crisis. The result is clearer and more consistent guidance on measuring fair value, where its use is already required.” Hans, you can take it from here.
FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2011-03 to improve the financial reporting of repurchase agreements, also called “repos,” or other transactions that govern the transfer and repurchase of financial assets. The new guidance gives companies some new parameters to consider in determining whether a transfer is in fact a sale of an asset, and therefore qualifies for sale treatment, or whether an entity has retained some control over the asset and therefore cannot claim to have sold it. [CW]
We’re sure all of you have been anxious for an update since the last FASB/IASB progress report last November, wait no longer.
• Completed five projects: In the next few weeks the IASB will issue new standards on consolidated financial statements (including disclosure of interests in other entities), joint arrangements and post-employment benefits and both boards will issue new requirements in relation to fair value measurement and the presentation of other comprehensive income.
• Given priority to the three remaining Memorandum of Understanding projects, as well as insurance accounting: The Boards have made substantial progress towards completion of the three remaining MoU projects covering financial instruments accounting, leasing and revenue recognition, as well as their joint project to improve and align US and international insurance accounting standards.
• Provided for further time to finalise their convergence work: The boards have agreed to extend the timetable for the remaining priority convergence projects beyond June 2011 to permit further work and consultation with stakeholders in a manner consistent with an open and inclusive due process. The convergence projects are targeted for completion in then second half of 2011 (however, the U.S. insurance standard, which has not yet been exposed, is targeted for the first half of 2012).
Wait a second, did they really say that putting off more convergence work is an accomplishment? That’s our kind of work right there. IASB Chair Sir David Tweedie and FASB Chair Leslie Seidman didn’t let that little detail deter them from patting themselves on the back for a job well done. Said Sir David, “the convergence programme continues to raise the standard of financial reporting worldwide, delivering much-needed improvements in key areas and providing a solid platform for global high quality standards.” What is that even supposed to mean? Sounds like the same pro-convergence gibberish we’ve been hearing all along.
Someone come get us when this actually means something.
[T]he tediously-reported proclamation of real convergence commitment has never been more than a smokescreen behind which the divergent interests of the Americans and the Europeans have knocked heads to the point of insensibility. (For which, recall the continued fudging of the SEC as to whether, if ever, that agency is even going to confirm a date certain on which to decide if to weigh in or not […].) Why no-one has called the question on this endless charade reflects the two-level fantasy in the dialog: the IASB and the FASB both pretend to believe in the desirability of fully-converged accounting standards, and the community of financial statement issuers and users pretend to believe them. [Re:Balance]
Rule makers concluded this week that “we all could benefit from a few more months to develop these standards, some of which really go to the core issues of many companies,” said Leslie Seidman, chairman of FASB, in a podcast issued Thursday. Sir David Tweedie, chairman of the IASB, said rule makers still intend to finish their convergence work by year’s end. The delay, he said in the podcast, will “enable us to check whether our conclusions will last the test of time. … We would never release a standard before it is ready and ultimately it must be a high-quality standard or you just can’t issue it.” [WSJ]
Today’s testimony before the subcommittee of Securities, Insurance and Investment will be focused on the how the accounting industry can help prevent the next financial crisis and will feature many prominent figures. The first panel will feature James Doty, Chairman of the PCAOB, Leslie Seidman, Chairwoman of the FASB and James Kroeker the Chief Accountant of the SEC.
The second panel will include Anton Valukas of Jenner & Block and the bankruptcy examiner of Lehman Brothers, Cynthia Fornelli of the Center for Audit Quality, Thomas Quaadman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Lynn Turner, the former Chief Accountant of the SEC. Throughout the statement Mr Turner points to various defects within the accounting profession infrastructure. This includes the profession itself, “auditors helped contribute to a crisis in confidence” the efforts of the accounting rule-making body, “Clearly the FASB has failed to develop quality and timely standards,” and the hapless SEC, who “[lacks] the tools for the job.”
Mr. Turner’s written statement appears in full after the jump.
If the drinks at Davos weren’t already free, we’re pretty sure Stephen Schwarzman would be buying.
From the Journal’s man on the accounting beat, Michael Rapoport:
Accounting rule makers took a key step Tuesday to reverse a proposal that would have required banks to value their loans based on the ups and downs of the market. The Financial Accounting Standards Board agreed that companies could continue to carry a variety of financial assets and liabilities at amortized cost, an adjusted version of their original cost, as they do now. That would reverse a proposal the board introduced last May that would have required bank loans and other financial assets to be carried at “fair value,” based on market prices.
What happened, you ask? What caused the FASB to fold like a cheap lawn chair? Remember all those nastygrams that were sent to Bob Herz? It sounds like the FASB took those personally:
FASB indicated the overwhelmingly negative reaction to its proposal, from companies and investors alike, played a big role in prompting the board to change its mind. The board received more than 2,800 comment letters on its fair-value proposal, most of them opposed to the move, and heard more opposition at a series of public roundtables before it began reconsideration of its proposal for fair-value changes.
So the bankers win this round. Oh, wait…they win every round.
She’s officially the boss for reals.
The Board of Trustees of the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) today named Leslie F. Seidman chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), effective immediately. Ms. Seidman has served as the acting FASB chairman since the retirement of Robert H. Herz on September 30, 2010.
“Our Board of Trustees is thrilled that Leslie Seidman has agreed to accept the position as Chairman of the FASB. She brings both unparalleled standard-setting experience and outstanding leadership skills to her new role,” said FAF Chairman John J. Brennan. “As the FASB continues its efforts to address the many significant accounting and financial reporting issues both here in the U.S. and globally, Leslie’s depth of experience with international and domestic financial reporting issues will enhance our progress toward meeting the needs of all of our varied constituents. On behalf of the FAF Trustees, we are delighted that she will be leading the FASB’s efforts to tackle these many challenges for the betterment of capital markets participants both here and abroad.”
How does Les feel about being the new punching bag of the anti-IFRS contingent, House Financial Services Committee, the American Bankers Association and countless letters and emails of ridicule? Pretty good, actch:
“I am honored to be leading the FASB at such a pivotal time in our history,” said Ms. Seidman. “The FASB remains committed to developing standards that will provide investors and other capital providers with decision-useful information. We are at a crucial point in our convergence program, and my fellow Board members and I are working in close partnership with the IASB to improve the comparability of financial information around the world. We want our standards to enhance communication and confidence in financial reports, and we will continue to seek new ways to keep our stakeholders informed and engaged in the standard-setting process.”
It’s just accounting rules after all, how bad could it be?
Filed under: more mess to directly blame on the fall of Lehman Brothers and Uncle Ernie’s epic failure
FASB is being awfully kind to those who played a large part in that whole total financial meltdown issue by avoiding actual name-dropping in their latest exposure draft but we don’t need names to know who they are talking about. *coughLehmancough* Here’s the note from FASB yesterday:
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued an Exposure Draft (ED) today to solicit input from stakeholders on its proposal to improve the accounting for repurchase agreements (repos) and other agreements that both entitle and obligate a transferor to repurchase or redeem financial assets before their maturity. The FASB requests comments on this ED by January 15, 2011.
“During the global economic crisis, concerns were expressed about a narrow aspect of existing guidance for determining whether a repo should be accounted for as a sale or as a secured borrowing,” notes FASB Acting Chairman Leslie F. Seidman. “The proposals contained in this Exposure Draft seek to address these concerns by simplifying this guidance.”
You hear that? You’ve got until January 15th to draw up your fantastic comment letters (please don’t disappoint us, we haven’t seen a good comment letter since North Carolina State Employees’ Credit Union President James Blaine said of mark-to-market: “Theoretically arrogant; in practice insane; financially negligent and reckless. Other than that, I have no concerns.”) on this new repo accounting proposal.
Once again, FASB wants the input of the worker grunts to find out A) what the plan is and B) how they should go about implementing it.
Seeing as how comment letters are a hallmark of our fantastically cooperative profession maybe FASB is going about this the wrong way. After all, it would be the investors who relied on incorrect information on Lehman’s financial condition based on creative repo accounting (mind you, “creative” and “fraudulent” are not the same thing) who are most impacted by current rules and any changes, not the accountants putting together the financial statements. Surely they would know better than to rely on their own financial information.
If you are unfamiliar with the joys of repo accounting FASB has offered a quick primer:
In a typical repo transaction, an entity transfers financial assets to a counterparty in exchange for cash with an agreement for the counterparty to return the same or equivalent financial assets for a fixed price in the future. Topic 860, Transfers and Servicing, prescribes when an entity may or may not recognize a sale upon the transfer of financial assets subject to repo agreements. That determination is based, in part, on whether the entity has maintained effective control over the transferred financial assets.
The amendments in this proposed Update are intended to simplify the accounting for these transactions by removing from the assessment of effective control the criterion requiring the transferor to have the ability to repurchase or redeem the financial assets, as well as implementation guidance related to that criterion.
Clarification is always nice, I guess, but paint me skeptical, I don’t see additional guidance doing much for closing the giant gaping loophole that Lehman drove a truck through on its way right off the cliff.
… please answer this with your best explanation of your position. I’ll go on record saying I am expecting comment letters stuffed with expletives, paranoia, panic and conjecture and personally can’t wait to read some of them.
“Quirky” representatives of the Profession, you know who you are. I want long rambling anti-IFRS manifestos dammit, don’t disappoint me.
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB or Board) is issuing this Discussion Paper to solicit information from stakeholders about the time and effort that will be involved in adapting to several anticipated new accounting and reporting standards and when those standards should become effective. The FASB will use that information to develop an implementation plan for those new standards that helps stakeholders manage the pace and cost of change. The FASB requests comments on this Discussion Paper by January 31, 2011.
The question FASB would like answered is “how the fuck are we going to pay for this convergence thing?” and they’re asking the profession to come up with solutions. I imagine some pockets of the profession couldn’t care less how much it will cost as they are only thinking about learning the new rules because, well, someone’s got to do it, right?
Don’t misunderstand it, they would also like to know if they should transition all at once or gradually, if effective dates should be different for various entities and just how many billable hours might be lost to figuring all of this out. So basically they need you guys to get on this ASAP because they’ve had several years to do it and are still lost.
“Our joint workplan supporting the Memorandum of Understanding with the IASB identifies targeted completion dates for various projects, but does not address when the standards would be effective,” notes Acting FASB Chairman Leslie F. Seidman. “We issued this Discussion Paper to gather the information we need to create a realistic, cost-effective plan for transitioning to the new standards.”
In other words: can you guys ballpark the timeframe and how we’re going to pay for it? I’d rather see the profession spend its quality billable time writing comment letters on its opinion of the transition and/or FASB’s handling of it. I think you fringe accountants know what to do, so I thank you in advance.
Pledging Our Way to Fiscal Disaster [Tax Vox]
Three-quarters of Americans believe that entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security “will create major economic problems” over the next 25 years. But two-thirds are opposed to addressing these challenges by reducing benefits, and 56 percent are against raising taxes.
And congressional candidates, who read the polls, are scrambling to pander to the free-lunch beliefs of their respective bases. As a result, they are locking themselves into opposing both reductions in future benefits and tax increases.