Friday, January 16, 2009

FASB: Less(or) is More

At its board meeting earlier this week, FASB voted to include certain lessor-related accounting issues – including but potentially not limited to the right-of-use (right-to-use) model - in its upcoming Discussion Paper (DP) on lease accounting.

FASB’s decision effectively broadens the scope of this project, originally slated to address lessee accounting only, with a later project planned on lessor accounting. The expansion in scope was decided in part due to some concerns about symmetry.

Question of Convergence
The leasing project is a joint project with the IASB. Staff indicated the IASB thus far has not wanted to expand the scope of their version of the project to include lessor accounting.

IASB board member Jim Leisenring, an observer at the FASB meeting, indicated that part of the reason the IASB was not inclined to expand the scope of the project was to be able to keep to the 2011 deadline for convergence of leasing set forth in the FASB-IASB’s updated Memorandum of Understanding.

The IASB board will take up this issue and other issues on the leasing project at its board meetings next week; details are in IASB Agenda Paper 13 , 13A and 13B. Additional projects slated to be discussed at next week’s IASB board meetings are listed on the IASB agenda.

Expected timing
Although FASB was not yet asked to vote on the length of the comment period for its upcoming DP on leasing, a potential four month comment period was referenced. Leisenring said the IASB will likely have a six month comment period on its version of the upcoming Discussion Paper; he noted that if there is a lag in FASB issuing its version, the end-date of the comment deadlines may ultimately be aligned.

FASB staff said they anticipated it would take them a few weeks – but not a few months – to make the changes to the draft DP.

Read FASB’s Summary of Board Decisions and the related board handout for further information. As noted in those documents, other topics discussed at FASB’s Jan. 14 board meeting related to the Conceptual Framework project.

FASB-IASB Financial Crisis Advisory Group To Meet Next Week
In other news, the FASB-IASB Financial Crisis Advisory Group, formed to advise the two boards on accounting issues relating to the global financial crisis and potential changes to the regulatory environment, will hold its initial meeting on Jan. 20 in London. Further details can be found here and here.

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