October 23, 2018

FASB

fasb accounting standard simplification

Simplifying Accounting Standards Still Complicated

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 […]

FASB Might Take a Breather on Standard Setting After Some People Yelled at Them

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 […]

When It Come to Overcomplication, Accountants Take the Cake

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 […]

FASB Flabbergasted That People Get Worked Up About Materiality’s Definition

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 Would Like FASB, PCC to Keep Their Heads Up, Get Back to Work

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 […]

Debt Issuance Cost Presentation Sure Doesn’t Seem Any Simpler

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 […]

FASB Vows to Hit the Gym, Stop Smoking, and Stick to Other Resolutions in 2015

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 […]

FASB Supports the SEC’s Commitment to Tiptoeing Around IFRS Adoption Indefinitely

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 […]

The Possibility Remains the FASB Could Turn Their Simplification Initiative Into a Giant Charlie Foxtrot

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 […]

IASB Backtracks on Lease Accounting But Definitely Not Because of FASB

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 […]

IASB Chairman to Take His Accounting Standards and Go Home If FASB Doesn’t Want to Play

Hans Hoogervorst doesn’t sound at all passive aggressive here or anything:

IASB Vice Chairman Calls FASB a Bunch of Old Timey Back-Tracking Liars

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, […]

FASB Finally Gets Around to Preventing Lehman Bros Version 2.0

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 […]

FASB Tries to Simplify GAAP, One Item at a Time

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 […]

Five Things You Need to Know About New Revenue Recognition Rules

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 […]

Let’s Join FAF in Celebrating 40 Years of FASB!

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 CEO Not Sure What This Mental Masturbation Around Insurance Accounting Is All About

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 […]

‘Little GAAP’ vs. Financial Reporting Framework: As a CPA, People Expect You to Know This Crap

Welcome to the latest edition of Accumulated Deprecation, Greg Kyte's monthly column. Go here to read more of Greg's posts.

GAAP is hard. I mean it was hard. But now accounting for private companies and small- and medium-size entities (SMEs) is super easy compared with just two months ago. 

Ex-SEC Chief Accountant Taking His Experience in Unfinished Business to the FASB

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 […]

NASBA Stands Behind FASB’s Private GAAP, Can’t Believe the AICPA’s Chutzpah

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 […]

Companies Wanting More Liabilities on Their Balance Sheets Will Love the New Lease Accounting Proposal

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 […]

You Know the Convergence of Loan Loss Accounting Is in Sorry Shape When Banks Are a Voice of Reason

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 […]

It’ll Be Nothing Short of a Miracle for Meaningful Lease Accounting Reform to Become Reality

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? […]

Nice Neighborhood Dad Named New FASB Chairman

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 […]

At Best, FASB’s Credit Loss Proposal Could Result in Earnings Management; At Worst, FASB’s Credit Loss Proposal Could Result in Lots of Earnings Management

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 […]

FASB Wants to Make a Comment Period Longer, But How Can You Make Punctuation Longer? Maybe If It’s a Comment Ellipsis!

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 […]

Maybe We Should Just Let the Banks Write Their Own Loan Loss Accounting Rules

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 […]

IASB Practically Begging the U.S. to Join Its New Accounting Standards Advisory Forum Now

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 […]

Career Considerations: Accounting Fellaships

Right about now, you're probably too preoccupied with the fact that even though it's Thursday, tomorrow really won't truly be Friday. So occasionally this busy season we'll give you some ideas of some things of things to do when you've had enough of public accounting. If you jumped the fence and found greener pastures and […]

Oh Great, the FASB Is Going to Spend the Next Twelve Months Celebrating Its Fortieth Anniversary

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 […]

FASB Still Applying Duct Tape to Repurchase Accounting

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. […]

FASB Chair Vows to Finish Term Cooperating, Condorsing, Enverging, Whatever

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 […]

Lease Accounting Survey Highlights Growing Demand for Competent Survey Writers

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) Who Wants to Be the Next FASB Chair?

~ 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 […]

FASB on Intangible Impairment Testing: Just Eyeball It

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): […]

Happy Birthday, Leslie Seidman!

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 […]

Saturday Open Thread: The FASB Is All Show, No Substance

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 […]

As If the FASB Wasn’t Boring Enough, They Will Now Be Debating Semantics

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 […]

Ratings Agency with Impeccable Track Record Attempting to Predict the Progress of U.S. IFRS Adoption

Once you suck at rating bonds enough, obviously the next logical step is to start predicting the progress made by a couple of rulemaking bodies who have a solid track record of stretching out a timeline to nowhere:  Fitch Ratings expects the U.S. will still move forward with plans to incorporate International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) […]

Oh For God’s Sake, Bank of America’s Former CFO Is Being Appointed Chairman of a Council That Advises the FASB

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?


Guess not:

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.

[via FAF]

SEC Asking FASB About Looking Into That MF Global Accounting Thingamajig

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.

MF Global Accounting Technique Under Review, Schapiro Says [BBW]

IASB Chairman: Convergence Is So Over

“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]

FAF Chairman Isn’t Interested in the FASB Taking a Backseat in Accounting Rulemaking

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]

IASB, FASB Trying to Get Everyone in the Ballpark on Revenue Recognition

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]

An Underwhelming Majority of State Societies Want a New FASB For Private Companies

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.

Surprising Absolutely No One, FASB Pushing Back Their Convergence Timeline

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.

FASB’s Convergence Timeline Moves to Next Year [AT via Jim Peterson]

Is a FASB Internship the Path to Prosperity?

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:

GC,
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.

Thanks again,
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?”

Some Are Suggesting That the IASB Is Filled with a Bunch of Spineless Jellyfish

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]

FASB, IASB Making Damn Sure They Don’t Mess Up Their Revenue Recognition Proposals

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]

‘Dear friends at the FASB: I am concerned that you good folks have lost touch with reality’

Today, in cheeky comment letters to accounting rulemakers.

FASB Letter_good Folks

We’ve More or Less Got Converged Fair Value Accounting Standards

As CFO notes, “[T]he largest differences may lie in the differences between British and American English,” but these are the ones you’ve been waiting for.

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 Closes the ‘Lehman Loophole’

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]

FASB and IASB Hand-Holding Agenda Nears Completion, Or So We Hear

We’re sure all of you have been anxious for an update since the last FASB/IASB progress report last November, wait no longer.

Here’s what we’re proud of having accomplished since:

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.

What Are the IASB and FASB Smoking?

[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]

IASB Chairman: We Don’t Issue Low-Quality Accounting Standards

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]

Lynn Turner Doesn’t Let Accountants, SEC, FASB Off the Hook for Their Part in Financial Crisis

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.

SenateBankingSecuritiessubcommittee04062011

EU Official Gives IASB a Paternal Driving Lecture on Accounting Standards

Did this Jeroen Hooijer character forget that he’s addressing a knight?

[Hooijer] said world leaders have extended the deadline for convergence from June to the end of this year and likened the IASB to a sports car driving at 160 kilometres an hour to the south of France. “We would like to slow down to 120. We don’t want to stop it. If you drive to the south of France and you only arrive half an hour later, the risk of an accident is 70 percent lower,” Hooijer said.

EU body tells accounting rule setter to slow down [Reuters]

A Mountain of Hate Mail Gets FASB to Backtrack on Fair Value

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.

Accounting Board Backs Off ‘Mark to Market’ Push [WSJ]

Leslie Seidman Is No Longer Acting Chairman of the FASB

She’s officially the boss for reals.

From the FAF:

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?

Without Blaming Lehman Directly, FASB Solicits Comments on a Repo Accounting Do-Over

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.

If You Never Write Another FASB Comment Letter In Your Life…

… 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.

Your mission:

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.

The request is simple:

“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.

Accounting News Roundup: America’s Fiscal Conundrum; FASB Attempting to Price Convergence; Rent and Healthcare Are Both Too Damn High | 10.20.10

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.

NFIB calls for action on Bush tax cuts [On the Money]
“Increasing the individual rates will mean that business owners have less money for business investment and job creation,” the NFIB stated. “One study found that a 5 percent increase in individual tax rates decreases business investment by 10 percent.”

Democratic leaders have repeatedly promised that rate cuts for all but the top two brackets will be extended into next year, allowing most businesses to avoid a tax increase. The NFIB states their plan will still hit small businesses.

FASB Seeking Input on the Costs of Convergence [JofA]
FASB issued a discussion paper to gather input 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, which are part of the FASB and International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) convergence projects, should be effective. The board said it will use the input it receives to develop an implementation plan that helps companies and other stakeholders manage both the pace and cost of change.

“We issued this discussion paper to gather the information we need to create a realistic, cost-effective plan for transitioning to the new standards,” Acting FASB Chairman Leslie F. Seidman said in a press release.

Paul V. Stahlin Elected Chairman of the AICPA [PR Newswire]
Stahlin said the United States is emerging from a period of economic turmoil that has “driven demand for new business practices, new regulations, new oversight and new solutions,” in his inaugural speech, titled “Seize the Future.” He said CPAs have been finding solutions for more than 100 years.

“We as CPAs have the unique ability to make sense of a constantly changing complex world,” Stahlin said. “Employers, our clients and our country turn to us to make sense of the most complex developments in business and regulation. We best understand how a business ticks.”

Bob Evans Financial Chief To Depart At Year’s End [Dow Jones]
Tod Spornhauer wants to do something different.


Yahoo 3Q profit doubles, revenue still lackluster [AP]
Bartz and CFO Tim Morse are still in process of turning this thing around.

J&J CFO: Healthcare Spending Growth Is Decelerating [Dow Jones]
Certain medical expenses are simply too damn high.

Jimmy McMillan: Rent is Too Damn High! [CBS]
Speaking of, in case you missed it yesterday (or Monday night):

Accounting News Roundup: Big Names Oppose Proposed Washington Tax; American Apparel Names Acting President; Oregon Gubernatorial Candidate Donates Home and Gets Burned | 10.08.10


SEC Accuses CHiPs Actor, Others Of Securities Fraud [Dow Jones]
“In complaints made public on Thursday, the SEC alleges that the actor, Larry Wilcox, and more than a dozen other penny stock promoters engaged in a series of kickback schemevolume and price of microcap stocks and illegally generate stock sales.

Wilcox, who starred as Officer Jon Baker on the long-running television show “CHiPs”, lives in West Hills, Calif., and is president and chief executive of The UC Hub Group, according to an SEC complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.”

Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon Line Up Against New Washington Tax [Janet Novack/Forbes]
“The Washington State fight over whether to impose a new income tax on well-to-do residents heated up Wednesday, as the group opposing the tax released a list of employers that have joined the anti-tax cause. Companies on the list include Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, Weyerhaeuser and Safeco Insurance.

The tax, which will appear as Initiative 1098 on the state’s November ballot, would impose a 5% tax on income of more than $400,000 per couple and a 9% levy on income exceeding $1 million per couple.”

Rep. Levin: Fate of Bush tax cuts unknown [On the Money/The Hill]
This does not sound good: “The Senate is expected to move first on the issue, but Levin said even that was not certain.

‘It’s preferable that the Senate act first because we’ve seen that if they can’t act first they won’t act second because the Republicans block it and don’t provide the 60 votes,; he said, adding, ‘I think we’ll have to wait and see.’ ”

American Apparel names Tom Casey as acting president [Reuters]
Tom Casey just left the terminal case known as Blockbuster in August.

SBA Loans Jump, Despite Unsteady Year [WSJ]
“Small-business lending still hasn’t bounced back to pre-recession levels. But despite a rocky year, the number of loans backed by the Small Business Administration jumped about 30% in 2010.

The agency, which ended its fiscal year Sept. 30, says it approved $16.84 billion, or 54,826 small business loans, in the past 12 months. That’s up from fiscal 2009, when the SBA backed about $13.03 billion during the depths of the credit crunch. In 2007, the agency backed about $20.61 billion.”


Oregon Gubernatorial Race Roiled by Candidate’s Charitable Deduction for Donation of Home to Fire Department [TaxProf Blog]
You try and do something nice…

FASB Advances EITF Proposals on Goodwill, M&A [A&A Update/Compliance Week]
“The Financial Accounting Standards Board is proposing new updates to the Accounting Standards Codification around goodwill write-downs, business combinations, and revenue recognition for health care entities based on recommendations from its Emerging Issues Task Force.

In the proposal titled Intangibles – Goodwill and Other (Topic 350): How the Carrying Amount of a Reporting Unit Should Be Calculated When Performing Step 1 of the Goodwill Impairment Test, FASB and the EITF want to settle on one starting point for all companies to follow in deciding if goodwill needs to be written down.”

U.A.E. Drops Threat to Suspend BlackBerry [NYT]
Your vacation is back on.

Accounting News Roundup: KPMG’s Hiring Spree in Europe; Herz Gets Nostalgic; Stalemate on Estate Tax Could Benefit States | 10.05.10

KPMG joins Big Four hiring spree [FT]
The FT gives us the scoop on the Radio Station hiring bonanza in Europe (if you’re experienced go here), “KPMG is hiring 8,000 new staff across Europe over the next three years, signalling a recovery in the corporate services industry.

The hiring includes 3,000 staff in Britain, even though the UK government has pledged to cut its consultancy bill amid growing public unease over the billions of pounds spent on professional fees in the past decade.

The recruitment drive will take KPMG’s workforce from 30,0Europe, excluding France and Italy, and from 11,000 to 14,000 in the UK. KPMG also has ambitious hiring plans in France and Italy.

The corporate services industry had been hit by the global downturn, with the Big Four accountancy firms – KPMG, Ernst & Young, PwC and Deloitte – criticised for their role in signing off financial statements stuffed with assets that plummeted in value during the crisis.”

After Eight Years at FASB, Herz Looks Back [CFO]
Q&A with the man himself. Can you guess which accounting pronouncement he’s a big fan of?

Two Accounting Firms To Pay $1.7 Million To Settle CFTC Charges [Dow Jones]
“The charges stemmed from audits of Sentinel that were conducted between 2004 and 2006. The firms, McGladrey & Pullen LLP and Altschuler, Melvoin & Glasser LLP, agreed to pay $400,000 and $800,000, respectively, in restitution to Sentinel’s customers who suffered losses as a result of the Illinois-based futures commission merchant’s bankruptcy.

They were also required to pay civil monetary penalties of $150,000 and $350, 000, respectively, according to an order that was filed Monday. McGladrey & Pullen acquired assets related to Altschuler, Melvoin & Glasser’s audit practice in 2006.”

Ex-SocGen Trader Kerviel Convicted of Trading Fraud [WSJ]
” Paris court sentenced former Société Générale trader Jérôme Kerviel to three years in prison for his role in one of the biggest trading scandals in history, ordering him to repay a whopping €4.9 billion ($6.69 billion) loss suffered by the French bank.”

Investor Feedback Summary May Foretell FASB Retreat [Compliance Week]
“The Financial Accounting Standards Board may be sending up a smoke signal with an unusual missive describing how investors aren’t entirely in love with the board’s proposed new rules on financial instruments.

The board published a nine-page description of its interaction with investors regarding the FASB’s controversial proposal to call for more fair value in accounting for financial instruments. It opens with a reminder that FASB writes accounting rules to assure that financial statements produce information useful to investors, then explains how investors are reacting to the proposal when the board conducts face-to-face meetings with investors.”


State Estate Taxes: Windfall Gold in Expiring Tax Cuts [TaxVox]
States make out pret-tay well if Congress bumbles the estate tax.

U.S. hits AmEx with antitrust suit [WaPo]
“The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it had filed an antitrust suit against American Express for preventing retailers from offering customers discounts for using rival credit cards with lower processing fees.

Federal officials added that they had reached a proposed agreement with Visa and MasterCard over the matter.

The issue of ‘swipe fees’ has long been a thorn in the side of the retailing industry, which complained that it has little power to inform customers of the differences in card costs. In its complaint, the Justice Department estimated that the fees cost merchants $35 billion each year – resulting in higher prices for shoppers.”

LinkedIn and PwC Launch Breakthrough Career Mapping Tool for College Students [PR Newswire]
“LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network with more than 80 million members globally, today launches Career Explorer in collaboration with PwC US, one of the largest employers of college graduates in the United States. The new LinkedIn Career Explorer tool provides current college students with unique, data-driven insights to help them build their careers.”

A Shift at the Top of Twitter [DealBook]
“Evan Williams, the co-founder and chief executive of Twitter, is stepping down to lead product strategy at the company, Twitter announced on Monday. Dick Costolo, the chief operating officer, will succeed Mr. Williams.”

“Robert Herz has had a more interesting career than any accountant deserves.”

We probably don’t need to remind you that today is Bob Herz’s last day at the FASB. It’s a sad day indeed for many that have been addressing their poignant comment letters to Roberto for the last eight years.

How Herz is celebrating his last day up in Norwalk isn’t immediately known but we’re sure it involves making crank calls to the American Bankers Association, Barney Frank’s face on a dartboard and plenty of cake.


Not so surprisingly, there’s not much mention of Bob’s last day out there except for cheeky article over at the Economist that informs us of precisely nothing new but manages to give Bob a backhanded compliment and take a major swipe at every single accountant on Earth:

Robert Herz[…]has had a more interesting career than any accountant deserves. He began his tenure as chairman of America’s Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) in 2002, dealing almost immediately with the fallout from the Enron and WorldCom scandals, which had been abetted by accountants. He was due to end it on October 1st, a sudden departure for undefined personal reasons, after a crisis also partly pinned on the profession.

Accountants “deserve” boring careers? Their choice of a profession automatically merits a long drab livelihood that involves choice of pen color, whether or not to upgrade the 10-key calculator on their desk and auditing Excel formulas? Forget about the rest of us for a minute; there are people who are ashamed to share humanity with Herz. It’s the man’s last day. Way harsh, Economist.

Beancounter there, done that [The Economist]

You’d Be Wrong if You Thought Bob Herz Was Coasting into Retirement

Just because Golden Boy is assuming Roberto’s seat on Friday, don’t think Herz is spending his final days as the FASB Chairman perusing the web for the latest D-list celebrity sex tape:

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) today announced the completion of the first phase of their joint project to develop an improved conceptual framework for International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs) and US generally accepted accounting practices (GAAP).

The objective of the conceptual framework project is to create a sound foundation for future accounting standards that are principles-based, internally consistent and internationally converged. The new framework builds on existing IASB and FASB frameworks. The IASB has revised portions of its framework; while the FASB has issued ‘Concepts Statement 8’ to replace ‘Concepts Statements 1 and 2’.

This first phase of the conceptual framework deals with the objective and qualitative characteristics of financial reporting. As part of the consultation process, the IASB and FASB jointly published a discussion paper and exposure draft that resulted in more than 320 responses.

Along with the heavy lifting that comes with the FASB chairmanship, we imagine Herz is also doing some reflecting this week as his tenure comes to an end. You know, reading some of his favorite comment letters and drafting a farewell/thanks for all the good times email to Barney Frank and the ABA. Stuff like that.

IASB and US FASB Complete First Stage of Conceptual Framework [Business Wire]

Russell Golden to Fill Bob Herz’s Seat on FASB; Chairmanship Next?

Directly from the mouths of babes in Norwalk:

The Board of Trustees of the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) today announced the appointment of Russell G. Golden to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), effective October 1, 2010. Mr. Golden will fill the board member vacancy on the FASB resulting from the retirement of Robert H. Herz on September 30, 2010. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Golden served as technical director of the FASB.


Whether or not this is a pit stop for Russ on the way to the Chairmanship remains to be seen. Leslie Seidman is taking the “acting” role on October 1st and as the PCAOB has shown, that can last for awhile.

Mr. Golden’s initial term on the FASB will extend to June 30, 2012, the expiration date of the term left vacant by Mr. Herz’s retirement. As technical director of the FASB, Mr. Golden held primary responsibility for overseeing FASB staff work on all standards-setting projects, including major global and domestic projects and technical application and implementation of financial accounting and reporting standards. He also served as chair of the FASB’s Emerging Issues Task Force (EITF).

“We are delighted to appoint Russ to the FASB,” said FAF Chairman John Brennan. “The FASB will be served well by his depth of technical knowledge in accounting, intimate familiarity with the projects on the board’s technical agenda, and his proven track record for reaching out to constituents and evaluating all available input when approaching financial reporting issues, solutions and improvements.”

Mr. Golden assumed his role as technical director of the FASB in June of 2008, and before that served in various roles at the FASB as a member of the senior staff. Previous to his tenure at the FASB, Mr. Golden was a partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP in the National Office Accounting Services department. Mr. Golden earned his Bachelor’s degree from Washington State University. He is a licensed CPA in the states of Washington and Connecticut.

As announced by the FAF Trustees on August 24, 2010, the FASB will return to a seven-member structure. The Board of Trustees is engaged in processes to recruit and evaluate candidates for the two additional seats and to evaluate candidates for appointment as FASB Chairman. FASB member Leslie F. Seidman will assume the role of Acting Chairman as of October 1, 2010, as previously announced. More details about the search process are discussed in a Q&A with Mr. Brennan.

While Mr. Golden was expected to be appointed to the board, rumors are that he won’t be the next Chairman of the FASB. Some people are saying that it is most likely that Leslie Seidman will get the “acting” dropped from her title or it will be one of the two new members that have yet to be appointed.

Financial Accounting Foundation Appoints Russell G. Golden to the Financial Accounting Standards Board [Business Wire]

I’m Not Impressed With FASB’s New Twitter Account

When @FAFNorwalk launched on August 4, 2010, it was supposed to be an awesome attempt at connecting government accounting to the 439 people interested in it (don’t trip, FAFN, y’all will get your massive following).

The day after signing up, they mustered up the courage to send out their first tweet:

Welcome to FAF/FASB/GASB! Stay Tuned For Updates.


First of all, we’re not sure if FAF, FASB and GASB know this but Twitter accounts are free so you are totally allowed to get your own. As far as I know, you are even allowed to get several as long as you can come up with an email address for it so there’s no need to share, although that can get messy. What if one of you is trying to tweet about the latest comment period (Disclosures of Certain Loss Contingencies – I’m sure that will garner quite a bit of interesting commentary) while the other wants to talk about new lease rules?

Secondly, is this the best they can do? I’d really like to see some more thoughtful commentary from Norwalk that truly opens the conversation. They can think of this as a comment letter in 140 characters.

Thirdly, what’s up with the one and only person FAFNorwalk is following? We don’t know who the hell @Badwissen is but maybe they are just really into FASBs and @FAFN could totally vibe that when they started their little Twitter co-op.

Lastly, let’s try to work a little better on the turnaround, eh @FAFN? Compliance Week already had an entire story up about new lease rules by the time @FAFN got around to tweeting about it… fine, @FAFN tweeted it around 2 and the CW story went up after 5 but still, with @FAFN’s access to insider information, I want to see @FAFN tweets about lease rules a full two hours (or a day!) before anyone, come on.

If you are looking for a truly dull Twitter follow with zero interaction, @FAFNorwalk is totally for you. Personally I like my accounting feeds with slightly more bite, even if that means a simple @ every now and then.

How’s that for a fucking comment letter?

Earlier:
Wonky Accounting Insight in 140 Characters or Less: The FASB Is Now on Twitter

Accounting News Roundup: Golden a Leading Candidate to Become Next FASB Chair; Europe Gives PCAOB the Go-Ahead for Inspections; Accountant Busted for Scalping U.S. Open Tickets | 09.03.10

Numbers Cop: FASB Staffer a Leading Candidate for Board [WSJ]
“The foundation that oversees the Financial Accounting Standards Board is considering Russell Golden, the board’s technical director, for the board post, these people said, although they cautioned that no final decision has been made. The chairman’s position would remain unfilled, they said, noting that the search process for a new chairman is at an early stage.

A spokesman for FASB declined to comment. Mr. Golden couldn’t be reached to comment.

The foundation has leaned toward an internal candidate because it would allow FASB to largely continue its work uninterruptedts at the end of the month. Mr. Golden already is involved with the board’s many projects.”

U.S. Companies Added 67,000 Jobs in August [Bloomberg]
“Companies in the U.S. added more jobs than forecast in August, easing concern the economy was falling back into recession.

Private payrolls that exclude government agencies climbed 67,000, after a revised 107,000 increase in July that was more than initially estimated, Labor Department figures in Washington showed today. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a gain of 40,000. Overall employment fell 54,000 for a second month and the unemployment rate rose to 9.6 percent as more people entered the labor force.”

Tax-fraud conviction voided because judge didn’t stop trial to let defendant go to son’s deathbed [Los Angeles Times]
“A federal judge’s refusal to halt a businessman’s tax-fraud trial so he could be at his son’s deathbed was cause to overturn the businessman’s conviction, an appeals court has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer also prejudiced the case against Garth Kloehn by failing to inform the jury that he was absent for the final day of trial because his son had died, the appeals panel said. Fischer told the jury that Kloehn “has a right not to be here,” possibly leaving jurors with the impression he was showing a lack of respect for the court, the judges said.

Kloehn was the sole defense witness in his 2005 trial in downtown Los Angeles on charges of failing to report $1.2 million in income. He left the courtroom after testifying to catch a flight to Las Vegas to see his cancer-stricken son, leaving no one to rebut the prosecution’s final testimony. Kloehn arrived at the Las Vegas hospital one hour before 45-year-old Kevin Kloehn died.”

Transparency and the I.R.S. [NYT]
Someone – namely Christopher Bergin, the publisher of Tax Analysts – isn’t convinced that the IRS is serious about transparency. So much so, he wrote the Times and they seemed impressed so they published his letter.

Europe greenlights US audit inspections [Accountancy Age]
“S audit regulators will be able to inspect European firms after the European Commission cleared the way for access to confidential papers, in a move which could allow Lehman Brothers investigators to follow up leads in London.

The European Commission said it will now share internal working documents with audit watchdogs in the US and Australia. The move breaks an impasse which had emerged between US and EU authorities over the sharing of confidential internal audit inspection papers, retained by regulators when they inspect audit firms.”


Better accounting for small businesses [WaPo]
Another letter to the editor, this time pointing out that small businesses shouldn’t be complaining about issuing 1099s to vendors if they have any semblance of an accounting system.

Accountant arrested for scalping U.S. Open tickets had 339 spots to sell worth $10,000: Prosecutors [NYDN]
For some reason, Marvin Schaffer had 28 parking permits for Jets games.

Tom Boniface Joins PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in New York as Co-Leader of Indirect Tax Practice [PR Newswire]
“PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) announced today that Tom Boniface has joined the firm as co-leader of PwC’s Indirect Tax practice, focusing on value added taxes (VAT) and based in the New York office.

Boniface is well versed in the various indirect tax regimes around the world, such as European VAT, Canadian and Australian GST, Brazilian ICMS and Japanese consumption tax. He brings over 15 years of experience serving U.S.-headquartered Fortune 100 and middle-market companies.

Boniface, who most recently led the consumption practice at another major accounting firm, has a B.S. in Accounting from the State University of New York at Oswego. He is a Certified Public Accountant in New York State.”

Tax Profs for the Ground Zero Mosque [TaxProf Blog]
“While the First Amendment is directed at government interference with speech, press and religion, it exists to guard against the danger that an angry and fearful majority will undermine those cherished rights. Thus even in the absence of government interference, it is incumbent upon us to stand with those seeking to exercise those rights in the face of heated public opposition. Unfortunately, with the notable exception of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, there have been few profiles in courage on this issue”

Stephen Chipman’s Toast to Bob Herz

“Bob Herz led the FASB during the most challenging time in its history,” said Grant Thornton LLP CEO Stephen Chipman. “He has been a tireless leader with an unwavering focus on the users of financial statements and we are grateful for his service to the profession and wish him well in his retirement. We also extend our congratulations to Leslie Seidman as she takes up the mantle as acting chairman and stand ready to help her and the FASB establish accounting standards that are right for the marketplace and for the dynamic organizations [Ed. note: they’re part of the new strategy, as you may recall] we serve.”


Trite statement as it may be, at least SC said something (we’re looking straight at you Veihmeyer, Moritz, Salzberg, Howe).

Grant Thornton LLP CEO statement regarding Bob Herz retirement [GT]

(UPDATE) Will the Herz and Tweedie Retirements Put the Kibosh on Convergence?

~ Update includes comment from IFAC President Robert Bunting of Moss Adams

Maybe! After all, anything’s possible. The Herz retirement wasn’t exactly expected but since Roberto had two years left in his terms but it’s been suggested that it’s been a rough two years since Barney Frank gave him the tongue lashing of his life over the whole mark-to-market thing.

Regardless, The Journal put it out there that the timing of Herz’s departure causes hella handwringing, most notably on the convergence efforts:

FASB will now have to replace Mr. Herz at the same time that the IASB is alreadycessor to its chairman, David Tweedie, whose terms expires in June 2011. This means that both bodies will have new heads as they enter what could prove to be the end game for the often-thorny process of converging two accounting standards.

This, of course, causes the U.S. GAAP Hawks to squeal with glee and those in pro-IFRS camp to get anxious and will likely lead to heavy lobbying for a replacement that will keep Tweeds dream alive for “one high quality set of global standards” or whatever they’re calling it these days.

Despite the Journal’s anxiety, International Federation of Accountants President Bob Bunting sees the change as an opportunity and things will continue to progress, “While the changes of leadership at the FASB and the IASB offer the opportunity for a fresh look at the convergence process, I would be surprised if any radical change in direction occurs,” Mr Bunting wrote in an email to GC, “The financial market forces and public interest arguments for convergence of the two standards, and possible eventual adoption of IFRS as a single standard continue to be very strong.”

However, since the FASB is expanding back to seven members, that will likely slow the process down (which makes some people happy) even further, especially with empty seats at the table:

The lack of a full board is likely to slow many of FASB’s projects, particularly the move to converge with international rules, said former FASB Chairman Dennis Beresford. “They’re not going to issue anything important on the basis of having only four board members,” he said, adding that Mr. Herz’s departure came as “a complete surprise.”

So, with those seeds of doubt planted, let’s put it to a vote.

Early Exit of FASB Chairman Raises Anxiety [WSJ]

Who Will Replace Bob Herz as FASB Chairman?

Yesterday we learned that FASB Chair Bob Herz would be ending his spectacular 8 year run as the head of our favorite accounting standards setting agency.

What we have not learned is who will be replacing him permanently when he escapes next month. In the interest of helping FASB come up with a qualified replacement, we have a few suggestions. Do we need to submit these in comment letter form or can someone just email over for us?


Patrick Byrne Listen, we know there’s something just not right about the guy and it’s entirely possible that he lacks the actual paper qualifications required of the FASB chair. But to his credit, he can do wonders with financial reporting, especially when it comes to using magical fantasy models very similar to FASB’s own mark-to-Disneyland initiatives. He’d be great for coming up with all sorts of helpful guidance (except when it comes to internal control, he might have to contract out to the IASB on that one) and if the IASB decides to get too lippy, Byrne can simply send Judd Bagley after Tweedie’s ass to “straighten him out,” ifyoufeelme.

Willie Nelson Okay, so we’re pretty sure you have to take a drug test before you’re allowed to run the FASB but assuming Willie can get his hands on some goldenseal, we think we have a winner here. He’s laid back enough to handle hard ribbings by Barney Frank in the event of another bank accounting debacle and who knows, we could put off convergence another 15 years if we can send Nelson over to the IASB with some goodies. They’ll be too busy watching Chapelle’s Show and hunting down Doritos to start messing with the sanctity of GAAP. Win.

The hot chick who got fired from PwC Let’s be real about it, the FASB chairman job used to be an esteemed position but now that we’re trudging ever-forward towards convergence (or, rather, total IASB domination), we don’t actually need anyone with more than half a brain in that position. So why not offer hot chick a job? Qualifications include: standing there looking pretty, keeping your trap shut and ignoring Tweedie’s midnight sexting.

If you have a suggestion, why not let us know? We’ll be sure to include it as an aside in our next comment letter. Whoever they get, can we please PLEASE make sure they slightly more photogenic than our buddy Bob? Seriously, we’re going to miss you, Herz, but man did you make us all look bad.

Accounting News Roundup: Herz Departure Is a Gift for Banks; American Apparel Blames Deloitte for Late Filings; Your Commute Isn’t That Bad | 08.25.10

Herz Leaving Marks Boon for Banks [WSJ]
“A new front has opened up in the war over mark-to-market accounting. Suddenly banks find themselves with an unexpected advantage in the fight over how they should value their vast holdings of financial instruments.

Trprise announcement Tuesday of the departure of Robert Herz as chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board. This will give banks an opportunity to push for a successor who is more friendly to their views on the mark-to-market question, as well as the overall idea that accounting should be for more than just investors.”

Former Chief Accounting Officer for Beazer Homes USA, Inc. Indicted on 11 Criminal Counts [FBI]
Michael Rand didn’t have a very good day yesterday.

Block ramped up federal lobbying efforts in second quarter, report says [AP]
H&RB lobbied their asses off from April to June spending $500k talking the ears off at the IRS, Treasury and SEC.

American Apparel Works To File Late 10-Q Before Nov 15 [Dow Jones]
The NYSE has put Dov & Co. on notice that they best get their act together if they don’t want to be sent slumming with the pink sheets. The company is promising to pull things together and if it weren’t for Deloitte quitting, everything would be a-okay.

Fact Checking Minority Leader Boehner’s Claims on “Small Business” and the “Bush” Tax Cuts [Tax Foundation]
In case you didn’t hear, John Boehner suggested that the President fire his entire economic team. Boehner is of the opinion that letting the tax cuts expire will hurt small businesses, citing the Joint Tax Committee. Tax Foundation takes exception with this, saying that the Ohio Congressman and House Minority Leader is misrepresenting the findings of the JTC:

“First off, the businesses that JCT is referring to are not necessarily ‘small.’ Saying the word ‘small business’ sounds good to the electorate because it brings up an image of a mom and pop store on Main Street America. But plenty of large businesses, as defined by net income or gross receipts, file their taxes under the individual income tax as opposed to the corporate income tax. Merely because a business is paying individual income taxes as opposed to corporate taxes does not mean it is ‘small.’ ”


Statement From Chairman Schapiro on Financial Accounting Foundation Developments [SEC]
“I commend the Financial Accounting Foundation for its ongoing efforts to evaluate and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the structure and operation of the Financial Accounting Standards Board by increasing the size of the Board. The Foundation has determined that this revised structure will facilitate the continuing efforts of the FASB to work with the International Accounting Standards Board on their important convergence work plan. In addition, this should enhance the ability of the FASB to address issues facing the U.S. capital markets and the needs of investors.

“I also would like to commend FASB Chairman Robert Herz for his more than eight years of service. During his tenure, Chairman Herz has served as an effective investor advocate to improve the quality of financial reporting standards around the world. I welcome the appointment of Leslie Seidman as Acting Chairman. During this interim period, I look forward to working with Acting Chairman Leslie Seidman and the FASB as they continue their important work.”

Twenty something day-trader nailed with $172M bill in back taxes, asks ‘What’s the IRS?’ [NYDN]
How does a barely surviving Spaniard end up owing over $170 million to the IRS? For starters, he really doesn’t owe the Service the money. The problem arose because he didn’t file a tax return for one year that he spent day trading. The Service concluded that he made $500 million.

China Traffic Jam Could Last Weeks [WSJ]
Today, be thankful for your commute. No matter how bad it was, at least the drive/ride ended.

Bob Herz Retiring as FASB Chair

Eight “successful” years is a helluva run, Bob. Not sure if he’s upstaging Tweedie’s exit next year or what. They’re buds and all. So now the speculation should probably start as to who will replace Roberto. Leslie Seidman will be running things as the “Acting” Chair and if you take the PCAOB’s as example, that “Acting” Chair can sit tight for awhile. Dan Goelzer has been “acting” as the Chair for over at the Board for over a year now.

So the important question is, who’s next to fly this ship? Taking shit from bank lobbiesenerally being known as being the biggest double-entry nerd in a gray suit this side of the pond is not an easy gig. We’d suggest a deputy accountant but there’s probably some silly qualifications that she will disqualify her. Does Tim Flynn put down the bag at KPMG? Do we finally get serious and get a knight to run this thing? Suggestions welcome.

NORWALK, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Board of Trustees of the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF) today announced that the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) will grow from five to seven members. The FASB previously operated with seven board members from its inception in 1973 until 2008. In addition, Chairman Robert Herz has decided to retire from the FASB after more than eight years leading the standard-setting board. FASB member Leslie Seidman has been appointed Acting Chairman, effective October 1, 2010.

“Returning the Board to the seven-member structure will enhance the FASB’s investment in the convergence agenda with the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), while addressing the unprecedented challenges facing the American capital markets in the months and years ahead”

“Returning the Board to the seven-member structure will enhance the FASB’s investment in the convergence agenda with the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), while addressing the unprecedented challenges facing the American capital markets in the months and years ahead,” said FAF Chairman Jack Brennan. “The FAF Trustees believe this is the right investment in the standard-setting process at the right time that will enable it to accomplish the many duties that are so critical to the organization’s constituents.” The transition to a seven-member board will occur as soon as the process to recruit and evaluate candidates is complete, which is expected in early 2011.

Mr. Brennan added: “On behalf of the Board of Trustees and, especially, all investors and others affected by the FASB’s work, I want to offer my sincere thanks to Bob Herz for his strong leadership of the FASB in, arguably, the most challenging period in its history. We greatly appreciate his service and congratulate him for a job well done. Moving forward, we are very fortunate to have a highly respected, experienced leader like Leslie Seidman to assume the duties of Acting Chairman.”

Robert Herz, Chairman of the FASB, said: “My more than eight years as Chairman of the FASB have been among the most professionally challenging and personally satisfying of my career. There are hundreds of people I need to thank for their strong support and invaluable contributions to our standard-setting activities. First and foremost, I offer my deep appreciation to my fellow board members and our dedicated and talented staff. I’m very proud of our accomplishments, and I’m confident the board will continue to successfully meet the challenges ahead.”

Ms. Seidman has been a FASB member since July 2003. She has also served the FASB in various staff roles. Prior to joining the board, Ms. Seidman managed her own firm, providing consulting services to major corporations, accounting firms and other concerns, and previously served as vice president of accounting policy at J.P. Morgan & Company. Ms. Seidman started her career as an auditor in the New York office of Arthur Young & Company (now Ernst & Young LLP) and is a certified public accountant.

The Two Best Comment Letters Written to the FASB You’ll Ever Read

Last month we told you about how the American Bankers Association encouraged anyone that disagreed with the FASB’s proposed fair value rule to write a letter telling Herz & Co. how much the proposal suind enough to provide a template for said “FASB Blows” correspondence so the anti-fair value crowd could get the gist of what needed to be said.

The ABA did warn, however, that the FASB hates, loathes, DETESTS form letters, so in order to make a valid point, it was advisable to not simple slap your name in the appropriate place but to articular your own special brand of hatred for the FASB.

As you may recall, many ABA groupies did not heed this warning, which no doubt resulted in Bob Herz and the rest of the Norwalk team using the letters to stoke their mid-summer weenie roast bonfire.

As disappointed as the ABA must have been with the lack of originality, we were sent this shining example that has been making the rounds at the Big 4 (or so we’re told). Our guess is that this is more of what the ABA had in mind:

FASB1

Bravo, James C. Blaine. Bravo. You are most definitely into the brevity thing. You have, presumably, made the ABA proud. But wait, there is a pro-fair value letter worthy of these pages.


Granted, it was written back in May but Brian Cowell is no less passionate than Mr Blaine:

FASB2

Nicely done, both of you. Everyone take note.

Accounting News Roundup: Wells Fargo Comes Out Against FASB Fair Value Proposal; PwC Buying Diamond Management; MLB Teams Financials Leaked | 08.24.10

Wells Fargo “Strongly” Opposes Accounting Board’s New Rules on Loan Value [Bloomberg]
“Wells Fargo & Co., the largest home lender in the U.S., said it disagrees with an accounting board’s plan that would require banks to report the fair value of loans on their books.

‘We strongly oppose the expansion of fair value as the primary balance-sheet measurement attribute for virtually all financial instruments,’ Wells Fargo Controller Richard Levy wrote in the Aug. 19 letter. ‘It will only serve to cement a short-term focus on fair-value measures.’

Wells Fargo is the first of the largest U.S. banks to publish its p writers who named an affiliation, according to the Financial Accounting Standards Board website. The letter was written to officials at the board, which said in May that it may require banks to report the fair value and amortized cost of loans and some other financial instruments on their balance sheets.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers to Buy Consulting Firm Diamond Management [WSJ]
PwC is paying $378 million for Diamond Management & Technology Consultants, “[share]holders will get $12.50 a share, a 31% premium to Monday’s closing price. The stock, up 29% in 2010 through Monday, was last at the bid level three years ago.

‘This is an attractive all cash opportunity for our stockholders, creates exciting prospects for our people, and will provide us new and enhanced capabilities to bring to our clients,’ said Diamond President and Chief Executive Adam Gutstein. ‘There’s a clear strategic fit between PwC’s assets and aspirations and Diamond’s positioning.’ ”

Return prudence to accounting [FT]
“What a pity that ultra-theoretical standard-setters around the world have chosen to jettison prudence, a generally accepted accounting convention derived from more than 100 years of experience. This high-risk approach has led to absurdly lengthy and unrealistic annual reports that are now virtually incomprehensible.”

Sex Harassment at Work Gets Weirder, Scarier [Bloomberg]
“Not that I think it’s weird that a brokerage firm chief executive would pin a female clerk on the floor by putting his shoe on her breast (the right one, if you must know), or that some insurance company guy in Fullerton, California, would put a sample of his semen in a female colleague’s water bottle. Twice.

But it did get my attention when I started leafing through this year’s press releases from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and found a case where a supervisor allegedly said that women should outfit themselves in Vaseline, and nothing else; one where a manager in human resources (yes, in human resources) allegedly inquired as to the color of an assistant’s panties; and a case against a company president who the EEOC says pulled a subordinate’s pants down in front of her coworkers.”


Borders CFO resigns for new job [Reuters]
Mark Bierley is moving on after 12 years for a new gig.

Businesses Add iPads to Their Briefcases [WSJ]
“Apple, which said it sold more than three million iPads through the end of June, attributes some of the device’s success to businesses. The Cupertino, Calif., company’s Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said in July that ‘very surprisingly’ half of the Fortune 100 are testing or deploying iPads.

More than 500 of the 11,000-plus applications built specifically for the iPad are in the business category. A free app from Citrix Systems Inc., which allows people to access internal corporate programs from the iPad, has been downloaded more than 145,000 times.

‘Everyone in IT is jumping on this one,’ said Ted Schadler, an analyst at Forrester Research. ‘Rather than wait for people to start complaining they’re saying why don’t we get a few of them in and see what they are good for.’ ”

MLB Confidential: The Financial Documents Baseball Doesn’t Want You To See, Part 1 [Deadspin]
Deadspin got their hands on financial statements for several Major League Baseball teams and even the lowliest of clubs – namely the Pittsburgh Pirates – make truckloads for their owners: $20.4 million in partner distributions for fiscal year ’08.

The sports rag also has financial statements for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Florida Marlins and L.A. Angels. And as you might expect, people (MLB and the clubs’ people) are not happy.

Accounting News Roundup: Ernst & Young Is All Over the Emmys; PwC’s Diversity Plea; Switching SaaS Providers Should be Simple | 08.18.10

FASB’s Tort Bar Gift [WSJ]
“In the eternal war between the plaintiffs bar and corporations, the lawsuit pack already owns the Senate andNow it seems the nation’s accountants want to give the lawyers another edge.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) will soon begin considering whether to require companies to account for the potential cost of ongoing litigation. Supporters insist this is merely about disclosure, but the proposal would hurt investors by offering roadmaps for new litigation and bigger settlements. We first wrote about this in 2008, and FASB retreated amid a business backlash. But FASB’s revised proposal, issued last month, isn’t much better.

Take the provision requiring companies to disclose their liability insurance coverage. Lawyers would be able to target their damage requests to the coverage maximum, or launch new lawsuits in the knowledge that more insurance dollars remain. This is why judges typically insist that coverage only be divulged under a secrecy order.”

Emmy votes are in and now it’s time to start counting [Los Angeles Times]
“With the Emmy Awards just a week and a half away, Ernst & Young LLP, the accounting firm in charge of counting the thousands of votes, will now kick into high gear figuring out who will be going home with a trophy come Aug. 29.

The deadline to get ballots in was 5 p.m. Tuesday. The last vote, as always, was turned in by veteran actress Jody Carter, who actually comes down to the firm’s downtown offices to fill out her ballot in person and turn it in to Andy Sales, the Ernst & Young lead partner for the prime-time Emmy Awards.”

Judge Denounces a Barclays Settlement [Reuters]
“The judge, Emmet G. Sullivan of Federal District Court, said at a hearing Tuesday that he was concerned about the proposed deal in which the bank had agreed to pay $298 million to resolve the charges over its dealings with Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Myanmar.

“This is a sweetheart deal,” Judge Sullivan said, adding that the average American citizen who gets caught robbing a bank does not get a deferred prosecution agreement, as Barclays did.


PricewaterhouseCoopers Calls on Organizations to Manage Diversity with their ‘Heads, Hearts and Wallets’ [PR Newswire]
“Organizations that leverage diverse talent and manage diversity with their ‘heads, hearts and wallets’ will gain long-term competitive advantages, noted Greg Garrison, Partner and Vice Chairman, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), in a keynote speech at the 2010 Ascend Annual Gala. Ascend is a 5,000-member professional leadership organization dedicated to leveraging the potential of pan-Asians.

Though organizations typically approach diversity from three perspectives — the head, which looks at diversity academically; the heart, which view it in moral terms; and the wallet, which ties diversity efforts directly to the bottom line — unsuccessful diversity commitments often occur because organizations approach the effort from just one of those mindsets.

‘Successful leaders approach diversity using all three lenses,’ stressed Garrison. ‘Looking through these lenses, leaders must act upon what they see and anticipate what is to come to successfully shape the talent that will drive business performance.’ ”

Office-Leasing Rebound Could Be Deceiving [WSJ]
“In New York, accounting giant Deloitte recently asked the city for $11 million in tax breaks that would support a consolidation of its New York offices at 4 World Financial Center in downtown Manhattan. Under the lease deal, which isn’t final, Deloitte—which now occupies some 934,000 square feet of office space in the city—would eventually move those operations into just 390,000 square feet at 4 World Financial Center, with options to expand to 630,000 square feet.

Deloitte would spend more than $90 million on building and fitting out the space with a new, more efficient design, according to its application for the tax breaks.”

IRS Probes Apple Employee for Kickbacks [Debits & Credits]
“A grand jury charged Apple’s global supply manager, Paul Shin Devine, who was responsible for selecting suppliers of enclosure materials for headsets for the iPhone and iPod. According to Justice Department prosecutors, who carried out a joint investigation with the IRS’s Criminal Investigation division and the FBI, Devine allegedly transmitted confidential internal Apple information to suppliers in China, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. In return, the suppliers agreed to pay him kickbacks, including payments based on a percentage of the business they did with Apple.”

SaaS switching – should we care? [AccMan]
“In theory at least, a SaaS/cloud approach makes it very easy to switch and the cost is relatively low, provided there isn’t a huge amount of data that needs unpicking and reforming. There is no throwing away of capital investments so no need to justify the decision in the same way you would if you’d installed an on-premise solution. Service providers that offer a freemium approach or a limited try-before-you-buy arrangement may appear attractive but even then it is only as you start to iron out the wrinkles that you find where the weaknesses lay.”

Good Riddance to Old Lease Accounting Rules

This story is republished from CFOZone, where you’ll find news, analysis and professional networking tools for finance executives.

I see that FASB is sticking to its schedule for ending most off-balance-sheet treatment for leases, and so is the IASB. It’s about time, frankly, if only to spare us poor, I mean, intrepid financial journalists from having to sort through the particulars of the current accounting treatment a moment longer than necessary.

I speak from personal experience here, having wrestled with the false distinction between capital and operating leases for a sidebar to a piece I wrote for CFO Magazine way back when. The article delved into the details of a particularly complex variation that companies were using to finance real estate, called synthetic leases.

I swear, that sidebar itself shaved a year off my life, and at my age, every one counts, and did even a decade or so ago.


In fact, the hoops that companies must jump though to get a deal to qualify as an operating lease still make my head spin. Consider: In order to qualify, the current rule, known as FAS 13, requires that the lease fail all of four tests aimed at distinguishing the financing from being the equivalent of ownership.

The thing that puzzled me about all this is that many, if not most, CFOs claimed that accounting treatment wasn’t the reason, or at least not the main one, that they used such financing techniques in the first place.

But the reason they gave often came down to their advantageous cost, and like all off-balance-sheet financing techniques, I could never quite understand how that lower cost arose without the accounting treatment.

After all, it seemed to me the only reason operating leases were less expensive than capital leases was that the underlying asset wasn’t counted as the property of the company by a sufficient number of investors willing to therefore pay a premium for the company’s equity. And if they did that, they were ignoring the fact that the asset was indeed the property of the company on anything other than a narrow, legal basis, and that the arrangement wasn’t financing its purchase.

So tell me again how off-balance-sheet financing results in lower cost if it doesn’t really do that.

Accounting News Roundup: JetBlue CFO Isn’t as Good at Gathering Trash as He Is with Spreadsheets; Dealing with a New Boss; IRS: Regs Won’t ‘Weed Out’ Preparers | 08.13.10

JetBlue CFO Flies Cross-Country, Collects Garbage [NYM]
JetBlue CFO Ed Barnes and VP Robin Hayes reportedly did their best to show up Steven Slater on a recent flight from New York to Long Beach. Apparently it is not uncommon for JetBlue execs to help out during the flight, however passengers can spot an amateur/numbers person when they see one:

“Barnes took one of the most challenging of the flight attendant’s duties upon himself: He gathered trash. ‘He never served anything, but he was the trash guy. He must have gone by eight times,’ our source said. ‘And he was kind of bad at it. He was really tall. There’s an art to reaching over people’s heads and h and not spilling it.’ Apparently both men were very nice, especially considering that the CFO was ‘clearly a guy who is used to doing spreadsheets and is now gathering trash.’ ”

Leverage FASB Tools to Catch Up on New Accounting [Compliance Week]
“Although the FASB is a on a fast track to issue a host of major new accounting standards as part of its effort with the IASB to converge U.S. and international rules, the board has coupled that with an effort to get resources out that can help key stakeholders grasp the new era of accounting that is just dawning. In addition to the usual discussion papers and exposure documents laying out the full technical detail of its plans, the board also is publishing user-friendly summaries and producing podcasts and webinars that explain the major new initiatives as they are proposed.”

How to Deal With Your New Boss [FINS]
“You will have to prove yourself all over again. The work culture of the past will change, and the expectations will be intensified, at least in the beginning. Experts agree there are specific ways to respond that will maximize your chances of surviving, and even thriving. For finance professionals, managing a new boss comes with some added stressors that professionals in other fields may not experience.”


H-P Board Sued on Hurd Exit [WSJ]
“Hewlett-Packard Co.’s directors got slapped with a lawsuit over the departure of Mark Hurd—the same chief executive who handpicked most of the board’s members—even as they face the task of finding a replacement for the former CEO.

A Connecticut-based law firm filed a shareholder derivative suit in Santa Clara County Superior Court in California on Tuesday against H-P’s board, alleging directors violated their fiduciary duties in connection with the events surrounding the resignation on Friday of Mr. Hurd.”

FDIC opens its doors to carry out financial reform [Reuters]
“Bank regulators on Thursday pledged an ‘open door’ policy for carrying out financial reform, also saying they will inform the public of meetings between senior officials and private sector individuals.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp said it will release every two weeks the names and affiliations of people outside of the government who meet with agency officials to discuss implementing the Dodd-Frank law. The subjects that are discussed will also be made public.”

IRS Prepares Preparers for Preparer Requirements [Web CPA]
“An IRS official repeatedly reassured an audience of tax preparers that the agency isn’t aiming to take away their livelihoods or weed out people when its new registration, testing, education and e-file requirements take effect next tax season.”

Wonky Accounting Insight in 140 Characters or Less: The FASB Is Now on Twitter

Technically it’s the Financial Accounting Foundation that has the handle: @FAFNorwalk and it also includes anything the GASB but really the FASB is who we expect to go on the offensive here.


They’ll be able to take on the haters with pithy commentary, give us the latest on their (less) ambitious convergence efforts and maybe, if we’re really, really, really lucky Bob Herz will spin off his own version of @CrankyKaplan. @DisturbedHerz, perhaps?

We have hope.

Fasb Twitter Pr

Does Anyone Care About Fair Value Anymore?

Fair value is a simple enough concept even if you aren’t an accountant: stuff is worth what you could sell it for in the normal course of business, so that’s what you value it as when you’re adding up the value of the stuff you have. Easy, right? Not so easy when it comes to convergence.

The IASB has already expressed distaste for our fair value rules (among other things) and Accounting Onion recently shared some concerns that convergence might require a reasonable definition of “High Quality Accountant Standards” (abbreviated HQAS” by AO) agreed upon by both FASB and the IASB. So far I haven’t seen it, has anyone else?

Wait, AO launches off into it fhan I ever could.

Moreover, if there are some doubts as to what HQAS is, the SEC’s view could have been attended to more closely at the outset of formal convergence efforts (October 2002); for surely the SEC had convergence in mind when they published their congressionally mandated (see the Sarbanes Oxley Act, Section 108(d)) report on the feasibility of “principles-based” accounting standards in August 2003. According to the SEC, the “objectives-oriented” standards they are looking for from a standard setter should possess the following qualities:

“Be based on an improved and consistently applied conceptual framework;

Clearly state the accounting objective of the standard;

Provide sufficient detail and structure so that the standard can be operationalized and applied on a consistent basis;

Minimize exceptions from the standard;

Avoid use of percentage tests (“bright-lines”) that allow financial engineers to achieve technical compliance with the standard while evading the intent of the standard.”

Now, seven years later, the SEC’s battle plans have been subordinated by the din and desperation of convergence wars. Are any new standards from either board “based on an improved and consistently applied conceptual framework”? Obviously not, for nary a single alteration to any conceptual framework document has occurred in the last seven years. The existing definitions for assets and liabilities are like wooden ships sent to battle against nuclear submarines.

A few weeks back, I talked to David Larsen, CPA, Managing Director of global advising firm Duff & Phelps, LLP about this fair value bullshit that complicates my life by requiring comment every few weeks. David participated on the SEC mark-to-market panel in November of 2008 and serves on FASB’s Valuation Resource Group so he’s familiar with what I’m talking about.

David believes public opinion dominates the fair value argument and really doesn’t see what the big deal is. “The goal is to make financial statements more readable,” he said of fair value’s ultimate intention. He’s a fan of transparency on the face of financial statements and more disclosures. Who doesn’t like that?

He says fair value is purely measurement and disclosure, nothing to get upset about.

In my opinion, fair value was our first test to see if we could handle the principles widely used in international accounting “standards” (hopefully “HQAS”) before we actually committed to adopting them and we failed. If you wonder why the IASB wants to hold the floor when it comes to convergence, you only have to stare our treatment of fair value right between the eyes.

It should have worked but our “P for Principles” in GAAP didn’t adequately prepare us to handle it.

FASB to Make Heads or Tails of Repurchase Accounting Soon Enough

Back in April when he was testifying before the House Financial Services Committee, FASB Chairman Bob Herz couldn’t really say one way or another what he thought about the repurchase accounting that Lehman Brothers was using.

At the time, Herz just said that FASB would work diligently with the SEC (no porn allowed), that Lehman skirted the disclosure rules and that they were going to get to the bottom of this, come hell or Barney Frank’s shrewd disposition.


In a recent meeting with his fellow double-entry wizards in Norwalk, Herz said that he was opening up ‘a very targeted scope project’ that will get to the bottom of this pile:

“Once we’re made aware that people are trying to structure around specific provisions in the accounting literature, it makes you think about whether those provisions need to be looked at,” he told the board. “We’ve asked the staff to take a look at that and come back with some recommendations in the pretty near term,” he said.

FASB Plans New Rules Around Repurchase Agreements [Compliance Week]

Accounting News Roundup: 1099 Reporting Is the Latest Political Football; Financial Reporting Overhaul in the Works?; Zynga’s CFO Hire Spurs IPO Talk | 08.02.10

Parties Play Politics With Unpopular Tax Measure [WSJ]
The new 1099 reporting requia bit of belly aching to point of many groups asking for a repeal. Too bad the members of Congress are the ones with the power to actually make something happen:

“The House rejected a bill Friday that would have repealed the provision. The two parties disagreed on how to make up the lost revenue.

‘This foolish policy hammers our business community when we should be supporting their job growth,’ Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska said in the Republicans’ weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. ‘It’s only one example of how the administration’s promise to support small businesses really rings hollow.’

Democrats blamed Republicans for Friday’s failure.

‘Despite all of their rhetoric about the need to eliminate this reporting requirement, Republicans walked away from small businesses when it mattered most,’ said Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.”

FASB Alumnus Trashes GAAP (and IFRS) [The Accounting Onion]
“I suspect that the folks being paid the big bucks to make the tough calls on accounting standards don’t pay a lot of attention to to the likes of Tom Whatshisname, even were I to announce that the sky is falling. But, I don’t take it personally. Over the past 40 years, any PhD not drawing a salary from the Big Four has been viewed with more suspicion than respect by the standard setting establishment.

I mention all of this now, because there is a new voice, whose credibility and qualifications cannot be so easily dismissed. That voice belongs to FASB alumnus David Mosso, who has written an 80-page monograph entitled Early Warning and Quick Response: Accounting in the Twenty-First Century). If you don’t want to believe me, take it from him: GAAP is broken.”

Group formed to overhaul financial reporting [Accountancy Age]
Meanwhile: “A project to overhaul company reporting has been launched by a high level group of accountants, businesses, regulators and market participants.

The International Integrated Reporting Committee will look at the wider concerns about financial reporting, in terms of addressing risk, and presenting a clearer and broader picture of companies’ performance, including governance and environmental issues.”


Goldman Details Its Valuations With AIG [WSJ]
“How did Goldman come up with the mortgage-securities prices it used to extract cash from AIG?”

Before There Can Be An IPO, First Comes A New CFO For Zynga [Tech Crunch]
Dave Wehner comes in from Allen & Co. taking the spot of Mark Vranesh who is becoming Chief Accounting Officer. What does all this mean? First, it gives most MSM outlets a day or two worth of stories about when Zynga will go public but mostly it means the business of Farmville, no matter how you hate it, is serious business.

Facebook Would-Be Owner Says He Owes His Claim to Arrest [Bloomberg]
“Paul Ceglia, who claims in a lawsuit that he owns 84 percent of Facebook Inc., said his case wouldn’t have been possible if state troopers hadn’t come to his house in October to arrest him for fraud.”

Forced Employee Engagement and the Overworked Employee [The Exuberant Accountant]
“In my many interactions with business owners, I have heard some speak of employees as being ‘lucky to still have a job.’ While that may be true, thinking (and acting) in such a manner is very short sighted.”

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn? [AccMan]
Got business model?

Accounting News Roundup: Rangel Found to Have Violated Ethics Rules; Friends of “Miami’s Go-to Forensic Accountant” Ask for Leniency; A “Refreshing” Settlement | 07.23.10

Rep. Charles Rangel broke ethics rules, House panel finds [WaPo]
“A House ethics subcommittee announced Thursday that it found that Rep. Charles B. Rangel violated congressional ethics rules and that it will prrobably beginning in September. The panel is expected to make the details of his alleged violations public next Thursday.

Rangel (D-N.Y.) has been under the House ethics committee’s microscope since early 2008 after it was reported that he may have used his House position to benefit his financial interests. Two of the most serious inquiries have focused on Rangel’s failure to declare $239,000 to $831,000 in assets on his disclosure forms, and on his effort to raise money for a private center named after him at City College of New York using his congressional letterhead.”

Geithner: Taxes on Wealthiest to Rise [WSJ]
“The Obama administration will allow tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire on schedule, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Thursday, setting up a clash with Republicans and a small but vocal group of Democrats who want to delay the looming tax increases.

Mr. Geithner said the White House would allow taxes on top earners to increase in 2011 as part of an effort to bring down the U.S. budget deficit. He said the White House plans to extend expiring tax cuts for middle- and lower-income Americans, and expects to undertake a broader revision of the tax code next year.

‘We believe it is appropriate to let those tax cuts that go to the most fortunate expire,’ Mr. Geithner said at a breakfast with reporters.”

FASB Requires More Disclosures Around Credit Risk [Compliance Week]
Accounting Standards Update No. 2010-20, Receivables (Topic 310) calls for more credit risk disclosures to give investors a better view of the credit risk in a company’s portfolio of receivables as well as the adequacy of its allowance for credit losses. Under the update, companies will be required to say more about aging receivables and credit quality indicators in particular.

The new disclosure requirements affect financing receivables and trade accounts receivable, including loans, trade accounts receivable that are greater than a year old, notes receivable, credit cards and receivables for certain leases. The new disclosure requirement does not affect short-term trade accounts receivable, receivables that are measured at fair value or the lower of cost or fair value, and debt securities.”


Convicted accountant Lewis Freeman’s friends urge leniency [Miami Herald]
“Miami’s go-to forensic accountant” Lewis Freeman is to be sentenced today for stealing nearly $3 million from victims of fraud who he was appointed to protect. He faces a dozen to fifteen years in prison but his friends and supporters have turned on the pity party, sending nearly 300 letters to Judge Paul Huck, asking for leniency.

“[E]very one of those letter writers also asks the judge to show mercy, emphasizing that the affable New York native should not have to languish in prison because he has done so much for institutions like his alma mater, the University of Miami, Miami Children’s Hospital and the Miami Children’s Museum, among others.”

No need for non-audit ban, regulator claims [Accountancy Age]
“Accountants will not have to give up their non-audit work for audit clients, under proposed guidelines released today, which have not recommended an outright ban, suggested by politicians in the wake of the financial crisis.

The Auditing Practices Board, of the Financial Reporting Council, which publishes guidance for auditors, does not believe an outright ban on non-audit services should be enacted and has instead proposed to tinker with present disclosure requirements.”

Could This Be a Real Deterrent? [Floyd Norris/NYT]
Despite the usual fare in the SEC’s settlement yesterday, Floyd Norris writes that the $4 million fine for Michael Dell and other executives is “refreshing.”

Accounting News Roundup: Bush Tax Cuts May Still Have Life; FASB’s ‘Religious War’ Rages; Facebook Might Do an IPO Someday | 07.22.10

Bush Tax Cuts Roil Democrats [WSJ]
“Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) said in an interview Wednesday that Congress shouldn’t allow taxes on the wealthy to rise until the economy is on a sounder footing.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.) said through a spokesman that he also supported extending all the expiring tax cuts for now, adding that he wanted to offset the impact on federal deficits as much as possible.

They are the second and third Senate Democrats to come out publicly in recent days in favor of extending all the tax breaks for the time being. Sen. Evan Bayh (D., Ind.) made similar comments last week.”

Madoff’s Ghost Still Haunts SEC [Washington Wire/WSJ]
In testimony earlier in the week, SEC Chair Mary Schapiro told a congressional committee that many of the people that investigated Bernie Madoff – 15 of 20 enforcement attorneys and 19 of 36 examination staffers – have left the Commission. However, that isn’t good enough for Rep. Bill Posey (R – FL).

“Republican Rep. Bill Posey of Florida –- home to many Madoff victims -– said he wants to know if those SEC employees ended up at other regulatory agencies, working for companies they were supposed to regulate, or retired with government pensions.

‘There’s a necessity to know where they went,; said Posey. ‘It’s like letting a pedophile slink out the door or change neighborhoods. We’re dealing with the same type of problem here.’

Schapiro strongly disagreed. ‘These aren’t bad people. In some cases they were people who were very junior and not adequately trained or supervised.’ In other cases, she said, they were pulled from one project to another.”

Despite the proclivities of some SEC employees, we haven’t seen anything warrant that particular label.


FASB in “religious war” to bring in fair value [Accountancy Age]
Lawrence Smith believes in fair value, you might say, in a fanatical sense. The FASB Member was quoted in AA, “Some people have advised us that we shouldn’t say this, but I’ll say it – fair value, to some of us, is almost like a religious war out there and we are trying to deal with that as best we can.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard a FASB member drop the relidge war rhetoric. Marc Siegel used similar language last summer, so there seems to be at least a smidge of seriousness behind .

Plus, at the rate things are going, the debate will soon reach Israel/Palestinian ignorability (word?) levels later this year.

Facebook IPO “when makes sense”, Zuckerberg tells ABC [Reuters]
That is, never.

Trust, but verify [MJS]
Starting now!

Accounting News Roundup: Bankruptcy Examiner to Investigate WaMu Failure; Ex-KPMG Tax Principal Pleads Guilty; UK Inspector Says Audits Need ‘Significant Improvement’ | 07.21.10

WaMu Shareholders Win Court Investigation of Biggest U.S. Bank Failure [Bloomberg]
WaMu gets their very own Anton Valukas! Colorful claims to come? “Shareholders of Washington Mutual Inc. won court approval of a new investigation of the biggest U.S. bank failure, further delaying the company’s effort to reorganize in bankruptcy.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary F. Walrath in Wilmington, Delaware, agreed that an examiner should be appointed to review WaMu’s assets, including the value of a potential lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for their role in the 2008 collapse of Washington Mutual Bank.”

Ex-IRS agent pleads guilty [WaPo]
John Venuti was also with KPMG from 2002 to until this past January. WaPo reports that he was a “tax consultant and principal.”

“According to the plea agreement, Venuti did not file federal tax returns from 2001 to 2006. Each year, though, he requested and was granted a six-month extension, and made a total of $97,060 in payments along with the extension requests. Authorities said he owes more than $789,000 in back taxes.”

Reckitt to Buy Durex Maker SSL [WSJ]
“Pushing further into the lucrative over-the-counter medical market, U.K. consumer-goods firm Reckitt Benckiser PLC agreed on Wednesday to acquire health-care-product company SSL International PLC, in a deal that values the world’s biggest condom maker at £2.54 billion ($3.88 billion).”

FASB Reveals Second Attempt at Standard on Contingencies [Compliance Week]
“The standard differs from one the FASB published in June 2008, which called on companies to use some conjecture and provide estimates of possible outcomes. Corporate counsel in particular buried FASB with objections that the proposed approach would force disclosure of privileged information, especially by giving legal adversaries access to information that would compromise the outcome of disputes. The current proposal steers clear of any requirement for companies to make any predictions or estimates about possible outcomes.”


FTSE 100 audits require “significant improvement”, inspectors find [Accountancy Age]
“Auditors have also been accused of altering documents before handing them to regulators and putting cost savings ahead of quality, in the review by the Audit Inspection Unit (AIU).

The report raised a number of concerns following its inspection of 109 audits from AIM and the FTSE 350.

The report also found some cases where partners signed audit reports before the audit was complete and one instance when an auditor tried to alter an internal file after the AIU requested it. Auditors had also changed internal materiality thresholds, which effectively reduced their workload, and had also not applied enough scepticism to internal asset valuations.”

More Than a Few People Didn’t Heed the ABA’s Advice re: “Fair Value Sucks” Letters to the FASB

Just last week we mentioned the American Bankers Association and its efforts to undermine the FASB’s latest fair value proposal that, in the ABA’s mind, could bring down civilization as we know it.

Because of this danger, the ABA encouraged “investors” through email and on its website to write individual letters to the FASB, expressing their displeasure with the worst idea in the modern history of double-entry accounting. We say “investors” because the ABA not-so-subtly asked everyone (i.e. who felt the overwhelming urge to write Bob Herz & Co.) to refer to themselves as such.

Further, the ABA provided a template of a letter to send to the Board for the “investors,” however, it did warn to resist using the example as their own because A) this is far too important and telling the FASB that fair value pains you in the deepness of your soul and takes food out of your children’s mouths will be a far more effective narrative; and B) the FASB hates form letters. HATES. So much so that Bob Herz rips up all his gold stars that he gives for the constructive letters he receives and then your unoriginal ass gets negative points.

The group urges investors to “write your own letter — the FASB does not appreciate ‘form’ letters, and often discounts them in their analyses.”

Simple enough, right? Well, maybe. But In his column today, Jonathan Weil gives an example of one ABA soldier that wasn’t very good at following instructions:

Among the letter writers was Terry L. Stevens of Francesville, Indiana, who identified himself as a bank investor, as the ABA had suggested. He didn’t mention that he also is chief financial officer and executive vice president of Alliance Bank, a closely held lender in Francesville with $270 million of assets.

“As a bank investor, of utmost importance to me regarding the banks in which I own stock is their financial position, and transparent financial reporting is key in order for me to make investment decisions,” Stevens’ letter said. “With this in mind, I am writing to express my deep concerns and opposition to the portion of the proposal that requires all financial instruments to be marked to market.”

Stevens didn’t write those words himself. He copied them verbatim from a sample letter the ABA posted on its Web page. So, too, did a bunch of other bankers who submitted comment letters to the FASB opposing its proposal, notwithstanding the ABA’s warning that they shouldn’t do cut-and-paste jobs.

This had to be a mistake, right? This is far too important of an issue to the banks of this country that a mishap like this could just happen. Bankers are responsible people that take this stuff very seriously and would never risk going through the motions just to serve at the whims of their lobby’s voice…would they?

Stevens told me he didn’t have time to write his own letter from scratch. “The points that I grabbed out of their paragraphs did a good job of explaining how I felt about the situation,” he said.

Oh.

Stealth Bankers Bomb as Anti-Reform Crusaders [Jonathan Weil/Bloomberg]

Accounting News Roundup: Congress Still Stalling on Tax Bill; ‘Most Americans Have Not Planned Well for Their Futures’; Deloitte’s Schroeder Joining FASB | 07.15.10

As Tax Cuts’ Expiration Date Nears, Little Consensus [WSJ]
“Lawmakers are negotiating a tax bill, but appear increasingly likely to wait until after the November election to take any final action that could anger voters—either by raising taxes, or by cutting them and thereby deepening deficits. Congress ultimately could decide to extend current tax levels for just a few months, leaving the issue for the next Congress to settle. Another option is a short-term extension of a year or two, avoiding for now the huge cost to the Treasury of a permanent extension. It’s even possible Congress might fail to take any action this year.”

From Jail, Conrad Black Fights $71 Million Tax Bill [Forbes]
“Imprisoned former media baron Conrad M. Black is fighting a $71 million bill from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, which says from 1998 to 2003 he filed no tax returns and paid absolutely nothing on $120 million in taxable income.

In a previously unreported lawsuit in U.S. Tax Court, Black, now serving a six-and-a-half-year-sentence in a Florida federal prison, is challenging the IRS’ demands and asserting the income in question wasn’t taxable in the U.S.”

Americans More Optimistic on Economy Than Their Own Finances, Survey Says [Bloomberg]
Who said Americans only think about themselves? “Americans are generally hopeful, and much of the economic news leads us to conclude that we are out of the recession and a double dip is unlikely,” said Robert Glovsky, chair of the CFP Board and director of Boston University’s program for financial planners. “With that said, most Americans have not planned well for their futures.”

Harvey Golub Resigns as AIG Chairman [WSJ]
“A weeks-long standoff between the chairman and chief executive of government-controlled American International Group Inc. ended Wednesday, when Chairman Harvey Golub resigned, saying, ‘I believe it is easier to replace a chairman than a CEO.’

Mr. Golub’s decision marks a victory for Robert Benmosche, the company’s hard-charging chief, who chafed under Mr. Golub’s oversight. Mr. Benmosche had told the board their working relationship was ‘ineffective and unsustainable,’ Mr. Golub said in his resignation letter.”

FASB hires expert to review how new rules perform [Reuters]
“Mark Schroeder, a recently retired senior partner at Deloitte & Touche [DLTE.UL], will serve as the board’s first “post-implementation review leader” and also serve a similar role for the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, FASB said.

The hiring of Schroeder is one of the big steps that FASB has taken to formalize its process for review of how new standards are performing. Banks and investors had complained during the financial crisis that FASB’s new rules on mark-to-market accounting had contributed to freezing the credit markets, but there was no formal process for reviewing the rules.”

The ABA Is Encouraging Everyone to Be Original in Their “Fair Value Sucks” Emails to the FASB

Banks hate the FASB. This is understood. They’re especially bent out of shape these days because the Board recently put out its latest fair value proposal that requires them to carry their loans at fair value. Bob Herz knew that this was going to cause hella-belly aching although he may not have predicted the virtual assault that was coming.

Banking lobbyists have launched an e- mail and Web campaign to mobilize investors against a proposed expansion of fair-value accounting rules that may force banks such as Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. to write down billions of dollars of assets.

The American Bankers Association opposes the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s plan to apply fair-value rules to all financial instruments, including loans, rather than just to securities. The group says the rule could make strong banks appear undercapitalized.

The association’s website, noting that FASB’s stated mission is to serve investors, provides a sample letter for people writing to the board and suggests they focus on why the proposal isn’t “useful for investors.”

As you can see, the banks are bringing out the big guns, although this not unfamiliar territory for the FASB. Lynn Turner, a Senior Advisor and Managing Director at LECG and former Chief Accountant SEC wrote in an email to GC, “This campaign is very similar to the efforts of the technology companies campaign against the FASB in 1993-95 to prevent rules that would have required those companies to expense the value of their stock options, something that ultimately led to investor losses and problems in the markets.”

The FASB prevailed in that particular battle but the ABA is wise to their ways, encouraging everyone to resist going through the motions on this one:

The association’s Web page, titled “Guidance for Investors Regarding FASB’s Mark-to-Market Proposal,” includes a sample letter to the board “for educational purposes only.” The group urges investors to “write your own letter — the FASB does not appreciate ‘form’ letters, and often discounts them in their analyses.” Those who comment should “let FASB know that you are an investor,” the ABA says.

So resist the urge to copy and paste anti-FASBites. They won’t really know how deep your loathing is for MTM if you go with the standard letter.

U.S. Banks Recruit Investors to Kill FASB Fair-Value Proposal [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]

PwC Would Appreciate It if the FASB, IASB Would Cool Their Jets on the Accounting Standards

Christ, guys! PricewaterhouseCoopers thinks it’s nice that you’re trying to turn the entire accounting world upside down since you decided the BSDs at the G-20 were serious about this June 2011 deadline.

But then you admitted that it can’t be done and it turns out they (or the SEC) don’t give a rat’s ass. For some reason, you’re still committed to getting the job done by the end of 2011 and PwC would like you take it easy.


For starters, everyone knows that the world is ending in 2012, so this is really a futile exercise. Secondly, you’re really not being rational about the whole thing. Your gusto is admirable but you’re looking like the kid that reminds the teacher to assign homework. KNOCK IT OFF:

PricewaterhouseCoopers Calls for Slowing Down Pace of Accounting Standard Setting

NEW YORK, July 8 /PRNewswire/ — PricewaterhouseCoopers, responding to the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) and the International Accounting Standards Board’s (IASB) ambitious agenda to complete about a dozen new accounting standards (about half of which are major projects) by the end of 2011, said the current timeline is not sufficient to produce standards that meet the boards’ high thresholds for quality.

Mike Gallagher, PwC’s U.S. National Office Leader, said, “it is of utmost importance that adequate time be given to complete an effective, thorough analysis of the accounting, business and operational impacts of the proposals.” Gallagher added, “given the boards’ missions of issuing high quality standards, we believe the proposed timeline will need to be further extended to allow for appropriate due process.”

In a Point of View article released today, PwC said it fully supports an aggressive timeline and the goal of attaining a single set of high quality global standards. Yet, the firm also expressed significant concern that the current pace of standard setting does not provide enough time for companies to fully analyze the proposals and respond comprehensively. In the article, the firm’s leadership called upon standard setters to “reevaluate the current timeline and set more reasonable expectations.”

Explaining the firm’s concern about the ambitious timelines, Gallagher pointed out that “even the largest of companies won’t have the resource bandwidth to properly evaluate and respond to so many complex standards in such a limited period of time.”

The projects underway by the FASB and IASB to improve both U.S. generally accepted accounting principles and international financial reporting standards are part of a wider goal to converge U.S. and international standards in key areas.

This Fall, It’s Do or Die for Accounting Rule Convergence

“If we can’t get converged (on financial instruments), it would suggest the convergence effort is going to be challenged and questioned on a significant basis.”

~ FASB member Tom Linsmeier levels with everyone on the FASB’s big test in the convergence process this fall.

Accounting News Roundup: E&Y to Appoint Non-Exec Directors to Global Board; Accounting Remains a Hot Post-College Job; Barclays Calls New Loan Valuation Proposal ‘Potentially Misleading’ | 07.06.10

‘Big four’ auditors bring in independent directors in response to regulators [Guardian]
The Financial Reporting CouncCAEW, issued a new audit governance code back in January that recommended audit firms appoint non-executive directors to their UK firm however, Ernst & Young will go so far to appoint them to their global advisory boards.

“Although the code technically applies only to our UK business, as a globally integrated organisation, we believe it is most appropriate for us to implement the code’s provisions on a global basis also,” said Jim Turley, global chairman and chief executive of Ernst & Young. “Including individuals from outside Ernst & Young on the global advisory council will bring to the senior leadership of our global organisation the benefit of significant outside perspectives and views.”

BP Won’t Issue New Equity to Cover Spill Costs [WSJ]
But if you want to pitch in, they are happy to take you up on an offer, “BP would welcome it if any existing shareholders or new investors want to expand their holding in the company, she said. BP’s shares have lost almost half their value since the Deepwater Horizon explosion that triggered the oil spill April 20.

BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward is visiting oil-rich Azerbaijan amid speculation the company may sell assets to help pay for the clean-up of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The one-day visit comes a week after Mr. Hayward, who has been criticized for his handling of the devastating oil spill, traveled to Moscow to reassure Russia that the British energy company is committed to investments there.”

Looking for a post-college job? Try accounting [CNN]
Happy times continue for accounting grads, according to the latest survey on the matter, this time from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The average salary listed for an entry-level accounting major is just over $50k and the article also notes that most accounting jobs go to…wait…accounting majors.


FASB, IASB Staff Describe Plans for New Financial Statements [Compliance Week]
As always, the two Boards are hoping that bright financial statement users will chime in with their suggestions but they’ve got the basic idea down, “The FASB and IASB are rewriting the manner in which financial information is presented to make it more cohesive, easier to comprehend, and more comparable across different entities. The proposals would establish a common structure for each of the financial statements with required sections, categories, subcategories and related subtotals. It would result in the display of related information in the same sections, categories and subcategories across all statements.”

Accounting rules “practically impossible to implement”, Barclays claims [Accountancy Age]
Barclays’ finance director, Chris Lucas isn’t too keen on these new loan valuation proposals. Besides the ‘practically impossible’ thing, he says, “The sensitivity disclosures…are highly subjective, difficult to interpret, and potentially misleading, particularly when the underlying data is itself highly subjective,” Lucas said.

“It is hard to see how sensitivity disclosures could be aggregated by a large institution to provide succinct data that avoids ‘boilerplate’ disclosure.”

Asking The Difficult Questions [Re: The Auditors]
“Audit committees too often rely on the auditors’ required disclosures without comment. They sometimes lack the independence, experience, or determination to ask the probing questions. It’s critical, however, that committees seek answers to vexing questions and not accept the response, ‘But that’s the way management has always done it.’ ”

Buffett Donates $1.6 Billion in Biggest Gift Since 2008 Crisis [Bloomberg]
WB continues his plan of giving away 99% of his fortune, “[Buffet] made his largest donation since the 2008 financial crisis after profits at his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. jumped.

The value of Buffett’s annual gift to the foundation established by Bill Gates rose 28 percent to $1.6 billion from $1.25 billion last year. The donation, made in Berkshire Class B stock, was accompanied by gifts totaling $328 million in shares to three charities run by Buffett’s children and another named for his late first wife, according to a July 2 filing.”

The case for cloud accounting [AccMan]
Dennis Howlett continues to provide evidence that switching to the cloud provides benefits that are simply too big to ignore, “This 2min 1 sec video neatly encapsulates why this is something you should be considering, especially if you are operating electronic CRM or e-commerce for front of house activities.”

Supreme Court Ruling Could Expose PCAOB to More Political Pressure

This story is republished from CFOZone, where you’ll find news, analysis and professional networking tools for finance executives.

We’re not quite as sure as others are that yesterday’s Supreme Court decision regarding SarbOx is so utterly meaningless regarding the future of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

Sure, the court said the law is still fully in effect, blah, blah, blah.

But letting the Securities and Exchange Commission fire PCAOB board members for any reason instead of “for cause” could easily subject the board to significantly more political influence.


While Floyd Norris says the commission is unlikely to fire anyone on the PCAOB, the fact is the has commission has thrown its weight around in similar fashion in the case of the Financial Accounting Standards Board when companies have complained to Washington about FASB’s accounting rule making.

What’s to stop them from complaining to the SEC that the PCAOB is being too hard on its auditors, and the SEC from succumbing to that pressure?

Much depends, of course, on who’s leading the commission. Mary Schapiro might not easily bend to the political winds, but her predecessor, Christopher Cox, clearly did just that in connection with FASB.

After all, when during a conference on accounting I asked Conrad Hewitt, the SEC’s last chief accountant under Cox, about the SEC’s threat to hold up approval of FASB’s budget unless it let the commission vet nominations to the board in advance, Hewitt said the SEC was acting properly in its heightened role as the FASB’s overseer under SarbOx.

Yet a FASB member privately insisted to me afterward that the SEC had no authority to do what it did.

And at another conference a few months later, I asked Hewitt what the White House was telling the SEC to do about exemptions for small companies from SarbOx’s requirements for internal controls, the infamous provision known as Section 404. At that, Hewitt, as somnolent a figure as ever occupied the job, sat up in his chair as if he’d just had a bucket of cold water thrown in his face, and insisted that the SEC was an independent agency.

But given what happened to Cox’s predecessor, William Donaldson, I think Hewitt’s reaction to this question was disingenuous.

And both of his answers help explain why the big argument on the court yesterday over the theory of “the unitary executive” and the ability of the president to fire “independent” agency personnel isn’t quite as irrelevant to the PCAOB’s future as most everyone else seems to think.

FASB Fair Value Proposal Brings the Hate

“In my mind you are largely responsible for the market collapse in 2007, 2008, 2009.”

~ John Sherman, in a public comment on the FASB’s proposed fair value rule, most of which are really, really, really not nice.

Accounting Convergence Will Claim Some Bodies

“I am proud to say that so far my fellow board members and our staff, both FASB and IASB, have risen to the occasion. But I do fear potential burnout, as it’s not so easy to be running a marathon at sprint speed.”

~ Bob Herz, admitting that maybe these accounting wonks might be working too hard.

Accounting News Roundup: Volcker Says Convergence Is Looking Like a ‘Collision’; Internal Audit Battles Relevancy Question; AIG to Remain Ward of the State | 06.10.10

Volcker upbeat on “reasonable” reform bill [Reuters]
Former Fed Chair Paul Volcker took note of the FASB and IASB’s divergence on fair value and he’s not too thrilled about it, “[Volcker]…said that U.S. and international accounting standard setters must reach an agreement on how banks value the loans on their books.”

So from Big Paul’s POV, there is no option other than to get your shit together on this even though the two boards seem to be moving in the exact opposite direction. Oh, and could you do that ASAP? Reuters quoted him “What appeared to be two organizations converging … now looks like a collision. I hope they can come together by the end of the year.”


Is Internal Audit Irrelevant? [Norman Marks on Governance, Risk Management and Internal Audit]
The question about the relevancy of the Big 4’s audit business (at least for public companies) has been questioned but now the role of internal auditors is in question. Norman Marks cites a recent presentation at the IIA’s International Conference in Atlanta:

One of his points was that internal auditors have been humiliated – because nobody has held them to blame to any degree for the collapse of the banking sector, the failures in corporate governance and risk management, and the tremendous loss in value of investors’ shareholdings all over the world.

Richard pointed out that the Walker report (in the UK) on the causes of the banking crisis didn’t even mention internal audit. We are irrelevant.

Mr Marks takes exception with this, saying that internal auditors do deserve some blame and that if the NYSE and others get around to issuing some requirements around the function of internal audit, the recognition will come with it.

U.S. Faces ‘Severe’ AIG Losses, Says Panel [WSJ]
Even though the bailout of AIG probably prevented us from bartering over food in a barren wasteland with cars on fire everywhere, taxpayers ‘remain at risk for severe losses.’ A Congressional Oversight Panel also stated that the U.S. Government will continue to be a “significant shareholder through 2012.” The Beard is more optimistic however, saying “AIG, I believe, will repay.”

Mary Schapiro Isn’t Too Concerned About the Convergence Delay

Earlier in the week we heard the devastating news that the FASB and IASB’s convergence efforts, despite a good hustle, would not meet the G20’s deadline of June 2011.

FASB Chairman Bob Herz indicated that this was a serious case of the Boards having bigger eyeshades than their double-entry stomachs could handle but he tried to squelch the disappointment by assuring everyone that the mission is not a failure and the Boards would “get most if not all of [the accounting standard proposals] done by the end of 2011.”

Roberto and IASB Chair Sir David Tweedie, feeling bad about how the whole thing turned out, decided to send a letter to the G20, presumably to keep them from getting their panties in knot:

It is expected that this action by the FASB and IASB will not negatively impact the Securities and Exchange Commission’s work plan, announced in February, to consider in 2011 whether and how to incorporate IFRS into the US financial system.

We appreciate the support of the G20 for the development of a single set of high quality global accounting standards. The two boards remain committed to achieving that objective. We shall continue to provide timely updates regarding our progress.

Ohhh, right. The SEC. What do they think about all this? Judging by Mary Schapiro’s attitude of “assuming completion of the convergence projects” as a precursor to IFRS, she’s totally cool with it, making her thoughts known in a statement yesterday:

The boards believe that the modified plan will contribute to increased quality in the standards because it provides additional time for stakeholders to thoroughly consider the proposals and give both boards quality feedback. I view this as time that is well invested.

Quality financial reporting standards established through an independent process are threshold criteria against which the Commission’s future consideration of the role of IFRS in the U.S. reporting system will be based. I foresee no reason that the adjustment to the targeted timeline for certain joint projects should impact the staff’s analyses under the Work Plan issued in February 2010, particularly when that adjustment is designed to enhance the quality of the standards. Indeed, focused efforts on those standards the boards consider highest priority for the improvement of U.S. GAAP and IFRS will facilitate the staff’s analyses.

Accordingly, I am confident that we continue to be on schedule for a Commission determination in 2011 about whether to incorporate IFRS into the financial reporting system for U.S. issuers.

In other words, no rush guys. Take it from Mary, this happens all the time.

IASB and FASB update to G20 Leaders [IASB]
Chairman Schapiro Statement on FASB-IASB Decision to Modify Timing of Certain Convergence Projects [SEC]

FASB Chair: Yeah, We’re Not Meeting That June 2011 Convergence Deadline

Yes, that’s your shocking headline of the day. Despite the retripling of efforts via videoconferencing and other fancy-schmancy technology, some Frenchman losing patience, and having a Knight spearheading 50% of the efforts, they will utlimately fall short of the June ’11 goal.

We know. Catch your breath or place yourself back in your chair, and then you can read Emily Chasan’s account from Reuters:

The Norwalk, Connecticut-based FASB and the London-based International Accounting Standards Board expect to announce changes to their convergence work plan in the next week or so that would delay the completion date by about six months and allow for greater public comment on the boards’ proposals, FASB Chairman Robert Herz said in an interview with Reuters.

“We’ve been working on a revised work plan with the IASB,” Herz said.

“We’d all like to see the work done as expeditiously as possible, but we don’t want to sacrifice proper due process.”

Herz said that to issue final standards by June 2011, the boards would have to release about 10 proposals in the next two months and rush through the public comment process.

It was nice of the FASB and IASB to say, “June? No problemo,” to the G20 BSDs but many organizations, including Financial Executives International, and even Chief Accountant Kroeker said that the overachieving might lead to some shoddy accounting standards.

Mr Herz is still optimistic about finishing up before 2012 telling Reuters that the two Boards will “get most if not all of [the accounting standard proposals] done by the end of 2011,” which is probably enough time for IFRS to be adopted by everyone. But then the world is on a strict deadline to end in 2012, so why are we bothering with this again?

FASB says will not meet 2011 convergence deadline [Reuters]

People Need to Calm Down About the FASB’s New Fair Value Proposal

This story is republished from CFOZone, where you’ll find news, analysis and professional networking tools for finance executives.

The accounting change for reporting the value of banks’ loans, which got the New York Times all hot and bothered yesterday morning, really amounts to a hill of beans, once you take a closer look at it.

In fact, the description in the article left me scratching my head on a couple of counts. How, for example, do banks write down the value of non-performing loans, as accounting rules require them to do, if they don’t mark them to market?


And what’s up with the tortuous explanation of how the Financial Accounting Standards Board decided to have banks mark to market the loans for purposes of the balance sheet but not for earnings? While I’m as big a fan as anyone of Jack T. Ciesielski, the accounting expert who publishes the investment newsletter, the Analyst’s Accounting Observer, his quote calling the decision a “smorgasboard” doesn’t really mean anything without some sort of context.

That context is pretty easy to provide, at least in the eyes of Charles Mulford, a Georgia Tech accounting professor and advisor to CFOZone.

As Mulford sees it, FASB simply is bringing information that’s already contained in the footnotes onto the balance sheet, specifically into the line item on that statement known as “other comprehensive income.” And this quite naturally has no impact on the earnings bank report on their income statements.

Currently, banks’ balance sheets carry loans at historical cost, less an estimate of the portion that is uncollectible, with fair value information in the notes, the accounting professor explains. The proposal would move the fair value information to the balance sheet by reconciling the cost of the loan with its fair value, he continues. But Mulford adds that there would be no change in the income statement, since that already includes any loan impairments. Instead, adjustments to fair value would be accounted for as a component of other comprehensive income, which is reported on the balance sheet.

“I view it more of a change in presentation than a change in accounting,” says Mulford.

In other words, investors who pay attention already understand this, so any complaints on the parts of banks should be seen as just an attempt to continue to fool those that don’t.