Form 10-K Tune-Up Tip Number Five for 2016

The next topic from our 2016 Form 10-K Tune-up One-Hour Briefing is SAB 74 disclosures. You can listen to the briefing on-demand with CPE and CLE credit available at:

www.pli.edu/Content/OnDemand/Second_Annual_Form_10_K_Tune_Up/_/N-4nZ1z116ku?fromsearch=false&ID=278540

 
To begin, what does SAB 74, which is Topic 11-M in the SAB Codification, actually require? You can read the whole SAB at:

www.sec.gov/interps/account/sabcodet11.htm#M

 
Here are a few highlights.

First, it is clear that this disclosure is not required for all new Accounting Standards Updates:
“The Commission addressed a similar issue and concluded that registrants should discuss the potential effects of adoption of recently issued accounting standards in registration statements and reports filed with the Commission. The staff believes that this disclosure guidance applies to all accounting standards which have been issued but not yet adopted by the registrant unless the impact on its financial position and results of operations is not expected to be material.”
This part of the SAB dovetails very nicely with an important part of the SEC’s Disclosure Effectiveness Initiative, which is to eliminate immaterial disclosures that potentially “clutter up” a report and potentially obscure material information.
Here are two examples to explore this issue.

CocaCola did not mention recently issued accounting standards in their 2014 Form 10-K MD&A. They apparently made the judgment that there was no material impact in the current year from new accounting standards. They did include SAB 74 disclosures in their financial statements in note 1. You can check it out at:
www.coca-colacompany.com/content/dam/journey/us/en/private/fileassets/pdf/2015/02/2014-annual-report-on-form-10-k.pdf

 
Intel treated this disclosure in exactly the same way, and you can find their 2014 10-K at:
www.intc.com/secfiling.cfm?filingID=50863-15-15

 
So, the first theme for SAB 74 is focus on material information.

 

 

The second point to think about with this disclosure is what do we need to say about new standards that we believe will be material.

The SAB contains four disclosure requirements:

 
1. “A brief description of the new standard, the date that adoption is required and the date that the registrant plans to adopt, if earlier.

 
2. A discussion of the methods of adoption allowed by the standard and the method expected to be utilized by the registrant, if determined.

 
3. A discussion of the impact that adoption of the standard is expected to have on the financial statements of the registrant, unless not known or reasonably estimable. In that case, a statement to that effect may be made.

 
4. Disclosure of the potential impact of other significant matters that the registrant believes might result from the adoption of the standard (such as technical violations of debt covenant agreements, planned or intended changes in business practices, etc.) is encouraged.”

 

 

As you consider these disclosures, the first thing that arises is that over time there will be a progression in the detail of the disclosure.

For example, most companies at this point in time will not know which method they will use to implement the new revenue recognition standard. But, as we go through next year, we will get closer to that decision. When the decision is made, the disclosure should be updated to inform investors about which method will be used. The same issue applies to quantifying the impact of a change.

 
The fourth disclosure, the potential impact on other significant matters, points out that when such a situation exists, this information may not be appropriate to disclose in the financial statements, but would be disclosed in MD&A.

This means that this disclosure should not always be exactly the same in the financial statements and MD&A.
As a brief PS, we have blogged about this topic before and suggested some wording for SAB 74 disclosures about the new revenue recognition standard. You can read that post at:
seciblog.pli.edu/?p=171

 

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

10-K Tip Number Four for 2016 – COSO and ICFR

This is the fourth of our deeper dives in the topics we discussed in our Second Annual Form 10-K Tune-up One-hour Briefing on January 7. (This One-Hour Briefing will be available on-demand soon.)

The topics for this post are:

The COSO framework, and

Internal Control Over Financial Reporting.
COSO

The easier of these two topics to discuss, although it presents some very gray issues, is the 2013 revision of the COSO framework. If you have not yet adopted the updated framework, what are the implications in your SEC reporting?

The SEC has not made any bright-line statements or mandates about this transition. And, in fact, many companies have not yet adopted the framework.

In December of 2013, Paul Beswick, The SEC’s Chief Accountant at that time, said in a speech:

“SEC staff plans to monitor the transition for issuers using the 1992 framework to evaluate whether and if any staff or Commission actions become necessary or appropriate at some point in the future. However, at this time, I’ll simply refer users of the COSO framework to the statements COSO has made about their new framework and their thoughts about transition.”

In addition to this cautionary language, the SEC Staff also discussed this issue at a meeting of the Center For Audit Quality’s SEC Regulations Committee. Here is that section of the minutes:

Ms. Shah stated that the staff is currently referring users of the COSO 1992 framework to the following statements made on the COSO web site:

“COSO believes that users should transition their applications and related documentation to the updated Framework as soon as is feasible under their particular circumstances. As previously announced, COSO will continue to make available its original Framework during the transition period extending to December 15, 2014, after which time COSO will consider it as superseded by the 2013 edition. During the transition period (May 14, 2013 to December 15, 2014) the COSO Board believes that organizations reporting externally should clearly disclose whether the original Framework or the updated Framework was utilized.”

Exchange Act Rule 13a-15(c) requires management’s evaluation of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting to be based on a framework that is “a suitable, recognized control framework that is established by a body or group that has followed due-process procedures…” In Release 33-8328, the SEC stated that ” [t]he COSO Framework satisfies our criteria and may be used as an evaluation framework for purposes of management’s annual internal control evaluation and disclosure requirements.”

The staff indicated that the longer issuers continue to use the 1992 framework, the more likely they are to receive questions from the staff about whether the issuer’s use of the 1992 framework satisfies the SEC’s requirement to use a suitable, recognized framework (particularly after December 15, 2014 when COSO will consider the 1992 framework to have been superseded by the 2013 framework).

Clearly there is no hard and fast rule about when to transition, but if a company were to use the old framework much longer, questions about the suitability of the old framework increase in importance. Issues such as what kinds of problems that the new framework might identify that the old framework could miss, (where are there gaps in other words) would need to be addressed.

As a last note, this blog post from the WSJ reports that 73% of 10-K filers for 2014 adopted the new framework:

blogs.wsj.com/riskandcompliance/2015/04/29/the-morning-risk-report-companies-adopting-updated-coso-framework-newsletter-draft/
ICFR

Since its inception the SOX 404 processes used to assess the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting by management and external auditors have been evolving. In the last few years there have been a number of developments and companies, auditors and regulators have all been raising questions about the process. Some observers have even called this period a “perfect storm” of ICFR evaluation issues.

So, what is behind the perfect storm? Here are a few of the underlying sources of this ongoing issue.
The SEC has asked some challenging questions, including “Where are all the material weaknesses?” In this speech, Deputy Chief Accountant Brian Croteau addresses for the second year in a row how most restatements are not preceded by a material weakness disclosure, raising the question about whether managements’ assessments and external audits are appropriately identifying material weaknesses:

www.sec.gov/News/Speech/Detail/Speech/1370543616539

The PCAOB in their inspection reports have found what they believe to be a significant number of issues in ICFR audits. In the Overall Findings section of their first report on ICFR inspections the Board reported:

In 46 of the 309 integrated audit engagements (15 percent) that were inspected in 2010, Inspections staff found that the firm, at the time it issued its audit report, had failed to obtain sufficient audit evidence to support its audit opinion on the effectiveness of internal control due to one or more deficiencies identified by the Inspections staff. In 39 of those 46 engagements (85 percent) where the firm did not have sufficient evidence to support the internal control opinion, representing 13 percent of the 309 integrated audit engagements that were inspected, the firm also failed to obtain sufficient audit evidence to support the financial statement audit opinion.

Since this report the PCAOB has summarized issues they have found in ICFR audits in other documents, including Staff Audit Practice Alert No. 11: Considerations for Audits of Internal Control Over Financial Reporting. You can find the alert at:
pcaobus.org/Standards/QandA/10-24-2013_SAPA_11.pdf
The issues addressed in the Alert are very similar to those addressed in the summary inspection report and include:

Risk assessment and the audit of internal control

Selecting controls to test

Testing management review controls

Information technology (“IT”) considerations, including system- generated data and reports

Roll-forward of controls tested at an interim date

Using the work of others

Evaluating identified control deficiencies
In particular, testing management review controls and relying on system-generated data have been common and particularly difficult challenges to deal with in the ICFR process. This combination of challenging areas to deal with and questions about identifying and reporting all material weaknesses in ICFR will likely continue to make this a difficult area in future years.

 

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.

 

The whole briefing is now available on-demand with CPE and CLE credit at:

www.pli.edu/Content/OnDemand/Second_Annual_Form_10_K_Tune_Up/_/N-4nZ1z116ku?fromsearch=false&ID=278540

 

10-K Tip Number Three for 2016

This post continues the series of deeper dives into the 10-K reporting issues we highlighted in our January 7, 2016 One-Hour Briefing, “PLI’s Second Annual Form 10-K Tune-Up”. (This One-Hour Briefing will be available on-demand soon.) This is the third topic in the briefing, audit committee disclosures.

In the Fall of 2015 we did a series of posts about audit committee issues, a topic that has been under discussion by the SEC and the reporting community. The SEC’s concept release about audit committee disclosures and a study by The Center for Audit Quality and Audit Analytics that shows that many companies are making audit committee disclosures well beyond those required by the SEC, the Exchanges and the NASDAQ brought this discussion to a new level of importance.

This is, of course, why we included this topic in our One-Hour Briefing. And, rather than repeat all the issues, here are the blog posts which you can peruse and dive into more deeply at your leisure:

 

 

Part One – Overview and Some History seciblog.pli.edu/?p=447

Part Two – Independence Oversight seciblog.pli.edu/?p=450

Part Three – Audit Fee Disclosures –A Few Common Problem Areas in This Independence Disclosure  seciblog.pli.edu/?p=456

Part Four – The SEC’s Concept Release seciblog.pli.edu/?p=462

Part Five – Voluntary Disclosures in the News   seciblog.pli.edu/?p=486

Part Six – Some Next Steps  seciblog.pli.edu/?p=496

 

 

 

As always, your thoughts and questions are welcome!

 

Keeping up with the IPO Market – An IPO Resource Update

Last December the US Government passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act or FAST Act……um, wait, isn’t this an SEC Reporting Blog? Well, as frequently happens when a “must pass” bill is in the legislative process congress members and senators add many amendments that are unrelated to the original bill. One of those ride-along areas in the FAST Act turns out to be SEC reporting related.

Several of the provisions relate to Emerging Growth Companies and their path through the IPO process. Others relate to disclosure effectiveness and improving the reporting system. Check the last section of this post and you can read a summary of these legislative changes.

Congress tinkering with the IPO process raises the question, just what is the state of the IPO market?

One great resource that provides a weekly update about the IPO market with details by industry and other factors is PWC’s weekly newsletter “Capital Markets Watch”. You can find the current and past issues at:

www.pwc.com/us/en/deals/publications/ipo-watch-weekly.html

The IPO market here in the US was fairly strong last year. That said, uncertainty and market volatility have a strong impact on IPO demand and given this year’s start in the capital markets it is difficult to predict how IPO’s will fare this year. One thing for sure, it will be interesting to watch!

One of the things you learn as you watch the ebb and flow of IPO’s is that there is a clear seasonal pattern in this market, which companies should allow for in their planning. Fall is usually a strong period in this market. Which means it is important to begin the process early in the year.

If you are in the process of considering an IPO, PLI has a wealth of resources. Our treatise “Initial Public Offerings: A Practical Guide to Going Public” will help you build a thorough understanding of the process. You can learn about it at:

www.pli.edu/Content/Treatise/Initial_Public_Offerings_A_Practical_Guide/_/N-4lZ1z12nwi?fromsearch=false&ID=158941

Our full-day conference “Securities Offerings 2016: A Public Offering: How It Is Done”, which will be on March 11 this year, is a good deep-dive into the process. The program will be presented live in New York and is available via webcast also. You can learn all about the program at:

www.pli.edu/Content/Seminar/Securities_Offerings_2016_A_Public_Offering/_/N-4kZ1z11hzm?fromsearch=false&ID=259900

Lastly, here is a brief summary of the major SEC related provisions of the FAST Act.

This Act:

Updates certain provisions of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act), and

Requires the SEC to review and update certain SEC reporting requirements.

The Act’s goal is to make capital raising by smaller companies easier. Some of the changes are self implementing and will take effect immediately, others will require SEC rulemaking.

Under the original provisions of the JOBS Act a company could lose EGC status during the IPO process. This would happen for example if revenues exceeded $1 billion before the effective date of a registration statement. The FAST Act allows a company in the IPO process to “lock in” its EGC status. This status will last for up to one year after the company fails to qualify as an EGC. In this case a company will be treated as an EGC through its IPO date, or one year after it ceases to meet the EGC criteria, whichever is earlier. This provision is effective immediately.

The original provisions of the JOBS Act require that all confidential submissions be made public at least 21 days before marketing the company’s stock. The FAST Act changes this to 15 days before marketing, or effectiveness if there isn’t a road show. (Typically marketing begins with the road show.)   This provision is effective immediately.

Under the FAST Act an EGC may omit financial information from a confidential submission or public filing if the company reasonably believes that it will not be required under the rules when the registration statement is declared effective. For example, prior year F/S would not be required if a company believes they will not be required when the registration statement is declared effective. This could be true for certain interim information also. The SEC has already considered extending this provision to all companies.

The Act also requires the SEC to amend its rules to allow a summary page in Form 10-K. Each item should include a cross-reference to where the relevant information is included in the annual report.  This may be a hyperlink. While the SEC is required to do this within 180 days a company could actually do this now.

The Act also requires the SEC to review and amend Regulation S-K to provide additional scaling or eliminate requirements for accelerated filers, EGCs, SRCs and other smaller issuers to reduce reporting burdens while still providing all material information to investors. This review is also designed to remove redundant, outdated or unnecessary disclosures for all issuers. The SEC is required to do this within 180 days

The Act requires a second S-K study to be done in conjunction with the SEC’s:

Investor Advisory Committee and

Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies

The focus of this review is to:

Modernize and simplify requirements

Reduce costs and burdens

Still provide all material information to investors

 

This review should:

Emphasize a “company-by-company” disclosure model

Reduce boilerplate language

Maintain completeness

Provide for comparability across companies

Evaluate methods of information delivery and presentation

Explore methods for reducing repetition and the disclosure of immaterial information

The SEC must complete the study and issue a report to Congress including detailed recommendations with 360 days and then propose rules 360 days after the first study is issued.

The FAST Also includes a new exemption for private companies, Section 4(a)(7) of the Securities Act, which will provide for private re-sales of restricted securities. Purchasers will have to be accredited investors and general solicitation and advertising will not be permitted.

The FAST Act also provides for forward incorporation in Forms S-1 and F-1 by smaller reporting companies. This will obviate the need to file prospectus supplements or post-effective amendments.

Savings & loan holding companies now have the same registration thresholds as banks and bank holding companies.

The SEC has already update some JOBS Act FAQs and has even discussed broadening some of the provisions.

There is a lot here, and if you would like to learn more about the FAST Act we have a recorded program with details at:

www.pli.edu/Content/OnDemand/FAST_Act_Securities_Law_Provisions/_/N-4nZ1z10zk8?fromsearch=false&ID=276456

As always, your thoughts and questions are welcome!

 

10-K Tip Number Two for 2016

 

The second tip from our January 7th One-Hour Briefing “PLI’s Second Annual Form 10-K Tune-up” (which will also be available in an On-Demand version soon) is under the category of New and Emerging Issues – PCAOB Auditing Standard 18 Related Parties (Release No. Release 2014-002, http://pcaobus.org/Standards/Auditing/Pages/Auditing_Standard_18.aspx) and PCAOB Auditing Standard 17 Auditing Supplemental Information Accompanying Audited Financial Statements (Release No. 2013-008 http://pcaobus.org/Standards/Auditing/Pages/AS17.aspx)

A warning for those who see “PCAOB” and assume they can skip this one. AS 18 will require auditors to do more work, which could be significant depending on the facts and circumstances. This will likely trickle down to companies and their audit committees causing more work in the areas outlined below in the form of more inquiry, documentation, and testing, including ICFR. So read on…

AS 18

 

The PCAOB adopted AS 18 in Release 2014-002 mainly to strengthen auditor performance in the areas of:

Related party transactions,

Significant transactions that are outside the normal course of business, and

Financial relationships and transactions with executives

 

Collectively these areas are referred to as “critical areas”, essentially high-risk areas, and the new Audit Standards require specific audit procedures for each area. The adopting release cited increased risks of material misstatement and fraudulent financial reporting involving these areas as motivating factors in issuing AS 18.

 

AS 18 addresses:

 

  • Relationships and transactions with related parties: Related party transactions may involve difficult measurement and recognition issues as they are not considered to be arms-length transactions. Therefore these transactions could lead to fraud or misappropriation of assets, and in turn result in errors in the financial statements, and could increase the risk of a material misstatement.

 

  • Significant unusual transactions: Significant unusual transactions can create complex accounting and financial statement disclosure issues that could cause increased risks of material misstatement and fraud. Another risk cited is the potential for inadequate disclosure if the form of the transaction is disclosed over its substance.

 

  • Financial Relationships and Transactions with Executive Officers: Financial relationships and transactions with executive officers can create incentives and pressures for executive officers to meet financial targets, resulting in risks of material misstatement to the financial statements.

 

So, what hasn’t changed:

  • The definition of related party, which the PCAOB pegged to the definition in the applicable GAAP the company uses
  • The accounting for related party transactions
  • The financial statement or regulatory (SEC) disclosure requirements

 

So, what has changed?:

  • The procedures are more specific and risk-based
  • Additional required communications with the audit committee have been added, see paragraph 19 of Release 2014-002
  • Three matters were added to the auditor’s evaluation of significant unusual transactions (see paragraph AU 316.67 as amended by this AS, which is paragraph AS 2401.67 in the reorganized PCAOB Audit Standards)
  1. The transaction lacks commercial or economic substance, or is part of a larger series of connected, linked, or otherwise interdependent arrangements that lack commercial or economic substance individually or in the aggregate (e.g., the transaction is entered into shortly prior to period end and is unwound shortly after period end;
  2. The transaction occurs with a party that falls outside the definition of a related party(as defined by the accounting principles applicable to that company), with either party able to negotiate terms that may not be available for other, more clearly independent, parties on an arm’s-length basis
  3. The transaction enables the company to achieve certain financial targets.

 

What companies should do now:

  • Become familiar with AS 18
  • Document the company’s process and related controls over (see paragraph 4 of Release 2014-002) :
  • Identifying related parties and relationships and transactions with related parties,
  • Authorizing and approving transactions with related parties, and
  • Accounting for and disclosing relationships and transactions with related parties
  • Gather and document the information auditors are required to inquire about, (see PCAOB Release No. 2014 -002, page A1-3, starting at par. 5)

 

Audit committees should:

  • Become familiar with AS 18 and AS 17
  • Understand the company’s process and related controls over identifying related party transactions and
  • Be prepared for the auditor’s inquiry that is outlined in paragraph 7 on page A1-4 of Release 2014-002.

 

AS 17

 

The PCAOB adopted AS 17 to improve the quality of audit procedures performed and related reports on supplemental information that is required by a regulator when that information is reported on in relation to financial statements that are audited under PCAOB standards. The standard requires an audit for certain supplemental information, such as:

  • the schedules in Form 11-K (employee benefit plans) where the plan financial statements and schedules are prepared in accordance with the financial reporting requirements of ERISA, and
  • the supplemental schedules required by broker-dealers under SEC rule 17a-5

 

Paragraphs 3 & 4 of Appendix 1 specifies audit procedures that the auditor should perform, and paragraph 5 contains the management representations the auditor will be asking for. The auditor may provide either a standalone auditors report on supplemental information accompanying audited financial statements will or may include the auditor’s report on the supplemental information in the auditor’s report on the financial statements.

 

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

 

 

 

10-K Tip Number One for 2016

Happy New Year from all of us at the SEC Institute Division at PLI! We hope your new year is beginning well and if you are working on closing year-end December 31, 2015 that all is proceeding smoothly.

Last week, on January 7, 2016, Carol and George (that being us of course, the bloggers you are reading now!) presented a One-Hour Briefing, “PLI’s Second Annual Form 10-K Tune-up”. In the briefing we discussed three broad groups of issues to think about this year-end. These were New and Emerging Issues, Recurring Issues, and SEC Staff Focus Areas. Here is the complete list of the topics we discussed in the One-Hour Briefing:

  • New and Emerging Issues
    • Customer accounting for fees paid for cloud computing arrangements
    • PCAOB AS 18 Related Parties – impacts both auditors & registrants
    • PCAOB AS 17 Auditing Supplemental Info Accompanying Audited F/S
    • Audit Committee disclosure
    • ICFR and COSO
  • Recurring Issues
    • SAB 74 disclosures for Revenue Recognition and others
    • Disclosure effectiveness
    • Cybersecurity
    • Conflict minerals & Form SD disclosure
  • SEC Staff Focus Areas
    • Segments – focus on ASU 280
    • Statement of Cash Flows
    • Income taxes
    • Fair value
    • Foreign Exchange Rates, Commodity Prices, and Interest Rates

 

You can hear everything we discussed in an On-Demand version of the Briefing that will be available soon.

To augment the Briefing we are writing a series of blog posts to dive more deeply into each of the areas we discussed than the one-hour time limit allowed.

The first issue, customer accounting for fees paid for cloud computing arrangements, relates to ASU 2015-5. This ASU is effective for public business entities for periods beginning after December 15, 2015. For other entities the effective date is one year later.

One of the major issues in this new standard is that costs associated with a contract may be accounted for differently depending on whether the contract involves a software license or is only a service contract.

To get to that issue we need to review the major provisions of the ASU.

This project arose with the increase in the use of “cloud” based computing systems. These generally include “software as a service agreements” (SaaS) and other types of “software hosting” arrangements. There was no clear guidance about how customers should account for such arrangements. As a consequence, it was unclear whether these were software contracts subject to software accounting guidance or simply service contracts or perhaps a hybrid of the two accounting areas.

The ASU puts paragraph 350-40-15-4A into the ASC section dealing with internal use software:

“The guidance in this Subtopic applies only to internal-use software that a customer obtains access to in a hosting arrangement if both of the following criteria are met:

  1. The customer has the contractual right to take possession of the software at any time during the hosting period without significant penalty.
  2. It is feasible for the customer to either run the software on its own hardware or contract with another party unrelated to the vendor to host the software.”

If the above criteria are not met then the contract does not involve a software license and is a service contact.

The key issue here is that if the two criteria are met, then the agreement is treated as a multiple element arrangement and the costs are allocated between the software license and a service element associated with the hosting contract. The costs associated with the software license fall into the guidance for costs related to internal use software, or if appropriate, another software model such as software to be used in research and development.

On the other hand, if there is no software license element, then the contract is treated as any other service contract.

The financial reporting implications of this distinction can affect issues such as balance sheet classification, since a software license would be accounted for as an asset in appropriate circumstances, i.e. if it was paid for in advance. Income statement geography can also be affected as software amortization versus service contract expense could be in different income statement line items. And, it is possible that the amount of costs recognized in each period could be different.

This perhaps more complex issue depends on whether the arrangement includes a software license. If it does include a software license the internal use software guidance applies. The expense recognition part of this guidance is articulated in ASC 350-40-30:

30-1     Costs of computer software developed or obtained for internal use that shall be capitalized include only the following:

  1. External direct costs of materials and services consumed in developing or obtaining internal-use computer software. Examples of those costs include but are not limited to the following:
  2. Fees paid to third parties for services provided to develop the software during the application development stage
  3. Costs incurred to obtain computer software from third parties
  4. Travel expenses incurred by employees in their duties directly associated with developing software.
  5. Payroll and payroll-related costs (for example, costs of employee benefits) for employees who are directly associated with and who devote time to the internal-use computer software project, to the extent of the time spent directly on the project. Examples of employee activities include but are not limited to coding and testing during the application development stage.
  6. Interest costs incurred while developing internal-use computer software. Interest shall be capitalized in accordance with the provisions of Subtopic 835-20.

These costs can even include the costs of data conversion.

For service contracts, there is no such guidance. And here in fact lies the more problematic issue. If a cloud based computing arrangement includes a software license the internal use software guidance for costs may require capitalization of costs that would not be capitalized if the contract is only a service contract. Thus the amount of expense recognized for an arrangement could be different if it has a software license or does not have a software license. If you have this situation, careful analysis is crucial!

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

Audit Committee Evolution – Some Next Steps

Over the last two months we have done a series of posts about the evolution of the role of the audit committee and related disclosures:

Part One – Overview and Some History seciblog.pli.edu/?p=447
Part Two – Independence Oversight seciblog.pli.edu/?p=450
Part Three – Audit Fee Disclosures –A Few Common Problem Areas in This Independence Disclosure  seciblog.pli.edu/?p=456
Part Four – The SEC’s Concept Release seciblog.pli.edu/?p=462
Part Five – Voluntary Disclosures in the News   seciblog.pli.edu/?p=486

 
In this last post in the series we discuss two resources for audit committees:

  1. The PCAOB’s outreach to audit committees, and
  2. Our PLI programs for audit committee members

 

PCAOB Outreach to Audit Committees

Recognizing the importance of audit committee oversight of the audit process, the PCAOB has included information for audit committees on their webpage to help audit committees in their oversight role. They have also begun a regular newsletter, “Audit Committee Dialogue”. The newsletter is on the same webpage, along with a number of other resources.
pcaobus.org/Information/Pages/AuditCommitteeMembers.aspx

 

PLI Programs for Audit Committee Members

And, lastly, here are some of our PLI programs that will help audit committee members and other directors build and maintain the knowledge and expertise to appropriately fulfill their responsibilities. Most of these programs are available via web archives, webcast and live attendance. You can learn more about all our programs at www.pli.edu.

Audit Committees and Financial Reporting 2016: Recent Developments and Current Issues
www.pli.edu/Content/Seminar/Audit_Committees_and_Financial_Reporting/_/N-4kZ1z11i36?fromsearch=false&ID=259781

Audit Committees and Financial Reporting 2015: Recent Developments and Current Issues www.pli.edu/Content/OnDemand/Audit_Committees_and_Financial_Reporting/_/N-4nZ1z129aq?ID=221250

Corporate Governance — A Master Class 2016

www.pli.edu/Content/Seminar/Corporate_Governance_A_Master_Class_2016/_/N-4kZ1z11ij4?fromsearch=false&ID=259397

 
Directors’ Institute on Corporate Governance (Thirteenth Annual)www.pli.edu/Content/OnDemand/Directors_Institute_on_Corporate_Governance/_/N-4nZ1z129if?fromsearch=false&ID=221435

 

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

The New Revenue Recognition Standard – When to Start Implementation?

Implementing the new revenue recognition standard is a major challenge that many of us face between now and January 1, 2018 (or whatever fiscal year you have that begins after that date of course.) Many professionals are happy to be close to retirement at this point in time!

With the magnitude of the change in this new standard, including the significantly expanded disclosures which apply to everyone, when is the appropriate time to begin implementation efforts? This is a very complex question. There are still some moving parts as the FASB and IASB continue to make changes to the final standard. The new standard can have varying impacts across companies depending on such issues as complexity of contracts, how product is delivered, do you have software licenses, and principal versus agent issues, to name a few. While the TRG has addressed many issues, there are only a few left to be resolved. While this may seem to be a good sign, the SEC staff has stated concerns that there are not more issues being raised, attributing the low number as a sign that perhaps implementation initiatives are not far enough along or are not being elevated to the TRG (see the September 17th speech by Wesley Bricker, Deputy Chief Accountant in the SEC’s Office of Chief Accountant at: http://www.sec.gov/news/speech/wesley-bricker-remarks-bloomberg-bna-conf-revenue-recognition.html)

There is much discussion about when to begin implementation discussions. To date there has not been much hard data about what companies are actually doing. The Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF), which is an affiliate of FEI, and PwC have teamed up to survey companies about this issue.

As nearly as we can tell, this is the first really good data about where companies are in the implementation process. You can find the study at:

www.pwc.com/us/revrecsurvey

The survey deals with a number of issues surrounding the impact and implementation of the new standard. It is a good read, and worth spending some time digesting. Here are a couple of things to ponder while you read.

  1. Do you have a reasonable understanding of how the new standard will affect your accounting and disclosure?
  2. What resources will you need in this effort?
  3. What level of organizational involvement across functional areas will be necessary (e.g., sales, legal, etc.)?

As always, your comments and thoughts are welcome!

Comment of the Week – The Mystery of Market Risk Disclosures

Market Risk Disclosures are one area that many participants in our workshops seem to shy away from. This Item is one of the less well understood disclosures in Forms 10-K and 10-Q. The mechanics of writing the disclosure are, well, at best, mysterious.

With all the volatility in exchange rates, oil prices and other markets in the current environment these disclosures will likely become more important for many companies this year end. Because of this, we thought “going to go back to the basics” of this disclosure would be helpful in many companies’ year end process. So, this post includes a review of the objective of the disclosure and some tips to navigate the requirements in S-K Item 305 as you prepare the disclosure.

Since this is a comment of the week post, there are also some comments at the end of the post. If you are already comfortable with what market risk disclosures are about and how they work, you can skip to the end!

Objective of the Disclosure

To prepare these disclosures well it is crucial to understand their objective, what they are supposed to tell a reader. To understand this objective the first step is to understand what kind of risk the term “Market Risk” means. Market risk is a term that can be interpreted in a number of different ways ranging from the market for a particular product to market driven rates such as interest rates or commodity prices.

Deep in the body of Regulation S-K – Item 305, likely one of the most challenging reads in all of Regulation S-K, you find these instructions:

Instructions to paragraph 305(b): 1. For purposes of disclosure under paragraph 305(b), primary market risk exposures means:

  1. The following categories of market risk: interest rate risk, foreign currency exchange rate risk, commodity price risk, and other relevant market rate or price risks (e.g., equity price risk); and
  2. Within each of these categories, the particular markets that present the primary risk of loss to the registrant. For example, if a registrant has a material exposure to foreign currency exchange rate risk and, within this category of market risk, is most vulnerable to changes in dollar/yen, dollar/pound, and dollar/peso exchange rates, the registrant should disclose those exposures. Similarly, if a registrant has a material exposure to interest rate risk and, within this category of market risk, is most vulnerable to changes in short-term U.S. prime interest rates, it should disclose the existence of that exposure.

To paraphrase, these disclosures are not about the “market” for a product like computers or smartphones. They are about the risks a company faces from market driven prices like interest rates or commodity prices. So, while the market for smart phones could affect a company, the Market Risk Disclosures are about issues like how a change in interest rates could affect a company if the company has significant investments or borrowings.

And that brings us to the next step in understanding the objective of these disclosures. Once we know what sort of market risk we need to describe, what should we say about it?

In S-K Item 305(a)(1)(ii)(A) you will find this language:

“sensitivity analysis disclosure that expresses the potential loss in future earnings, fair values, or cash flows of market risk sensitive instruments resulting from one or more selected hypothetical changes in interest rates”

In other words, this disclosure is designed to help a reader assess how much a change in a market driven price, such as an interest rate or a commodity price, would affect the business.

Conceptually what this disclosure is about is fairly easy to understand. However, the application of S-K Item 305 is complex. It requires both qualitative and quantitative information   Our review here is fairly brief. S-K Item 305 has a maze of detailed rules. If you will be drafting or reviewing the disclosure you should refer to the actual S-K language. Also, the comments below illustrate several of the complexities in this rule.

Qualitative Disclosures

The logical place to start drafting is with qualitative disclosures. Knowing what a company’s market risks are is necessary before quantitative information will make sense to a reader. Unfortunately, in Item 305, the qualitative disclosures are sort of hard to find, as they are not the first thing listed. You can find them in paragraph (b), which says:

(b) Qualitative information about market risk.

(1) To the extent material, describe:

(i) The registrant’s primary market risk exposures;

(ii) How those exposures are managed. Such descriptions shall include, but not be limited to, a discussion of the objectives, general strategies, and instruments, if any, used to manage those exposures; and

(iii) Changes in either the registrant’s primary market risk exposures or how those exposures are managed, when compared to what was in effect during the most recently completed fiscal year and what is known or expected to be in effect in future reporting periods.

This qualitative information is really pretty simple; say what market driven prices such as interest rates, exchange rates, commodity prices or other types of prices affect the company; talk about how you manage them; and tell if they have changed. Note that the rules do not require that a company manage these risks, so if you don’t manage them, you should disclose that, along with the other information in (b) (10) above.  (Here is one place to review Item 305 in detail, as this disclosure needs to be broken down in pretty specific ways by type and source of risk.)

Quantitative Disclosures

The second part of this disclosure is quantitative, and is designed to help a reader understand how much a hypothetical change in market prices or rates could affect the business. Again, this is a very detailed requirement, but in essence starts with a choice among three alternatives:

Tabular Disclosure

S-K Item 305(a)(1)(i)(A)(1) describes a tabular presentation of information related to market risk sensitive instruments. This information includes fair values of the market risk sensitive instruments and contract terms sufficient to determine future cash flows from those instruments, categorized by expected maturity dates. In essence you are providing a reader with the input they could use to build a spreadsheet, make a price change assumption, and see how much the price change would affect the company’s income, cash flows or fair values.

Sensitivity Analysis

S-K Item 305(a)(1)(ii)(A) describes a sensitivity analysis disclosure that expresses the potential loss in future earnings, fair values, or cash flows of market risk sensitive instruments resulting from one or more selected hypothetical changes in interest rates, foreign currency exchange rates, commodity prices, and other relevant market rates or prices over a selected period of time. In essence, in this disclosure you build your own spreadsheet and assume a hypothetical change in rates or prices and compute the impact.

Value at Risk Analysis

S-K Item 305(a)(1) (iii)(A) describes value at risk disclosures that express the potential loss in future earnings, fair values, or cash flows of market risk sensitive instruments over a selected period of time, with a selected likelihood of occurrence, from changes in interest rates, foreign currency exchange rates, commodity prices, and other relevant market rates or prices. This is actually a complex econometric modeling process, and we won’t discuss it any further in this post. If your treasury or risk management group already uses this technique to assess risk it may well be a good disclosure option.

Again, this is very complex disclosure. You can choose one of the three alternatives for different risks, however you must disclose the most significant impact based on future earnings, fair values, and cash flows. Therefore, you must calculate the impact of a price change on income, cash flows and fair value to determine which has the greatest change, and thus is disclosed. Of course, If future earnings had the greatest impact last year, and this year the greatest impact is in fair value, then you would need to recast the prior year. These are only some of the judgments necessary to prepare this disclosure.
One last note, as you can see this disclosure is very forward looking, and is another reason the 1995 Private Securities Litigation Reform Act safe harbors are so important!
Example Comments

Last but not least, as this is a comment of the week post, here are some comments. Notice the focus on simple compliance with the S-K Item 305 disclosure requirements!

Foreign Currency Fluctuations, page 37

  1. We note from your disclosure on page 28 and in Note 26 that a substantial portion of your cash is held by foreign subsidiaries and 46% of your net sales to unaffiliated customers for fiscal 2014 were attributed to your foreign subsidiaries, respectively. We believe your market risk disclosures should be enhanced to provide a more robust discussion of the effects of foreign currency risk on your results of operations and financial condition. Additionally, your discussion of this market risk does not appear to comply with the guidance outlined in Item 305 of Regulation S-K. Please revise to expand your discussion of foreign currency risk to comply with one of the disclosure alternatives in Item 305(a) of Regulation S-K.

Quantitative and qualitative disclosure about market risk, page 70

  1. Please tell us how you considered the disclosures required by Item 305(a) of Regulation S-K with respect to your term loan.

Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosure About Market Risk

Foreign Currency Risk, page 125

  1. Please tell us what consideration you gave to providing a sensitivity analysis for each currency (e.g., British Pounds and Euro) that may have an individually significant impact on future earnings.

Item 7A – Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk, page 30

  1. We note your quantitative disclosure of interest rate risk associated with your investments in cash and cash equivalents and investment securities. We also note that your disclosure does not address market risk for other financial instruments such as the senior unsecured notes. Please revise to include qualitative and quantitative information about market risk in accordance with one of the three disclosure alternatives within Item 305 of Regulation S-K and that addresses the interest rate risk for the senior unsecured notes.

Evolution of the Audit Committee – Part Five – Voluntary Disclosures in the News

Over the last two months we have done a series of blog posts about audit committee oversight and disclosure issues. One of the major topics under discussion within, among and about audit committees is what information should they disclose about their oversight of the audit, financial reporting and ICFR processes. Most observers agree that effective audit committee oversight is critical to success in these areas. And, many also believe that more information about how individual audit committees exercise this oversight will be valuable to investors and other stakeholders.

In our post on October 30 we reviewed the SEC’s Concept Release discussing possible incremental disclosures about this oversight. You can review it here:

seciblog.pli.edu/?p=462

Out in the real world it turns out that many companies are voluntarily making disclosures beyond those currently required by the SEC. On November 3, 2015 the Center for Audit Quality and Audit Analytics released their second “Audit Committee Transparency Barometer”. This “Barometer” is a survey of actual audit committee disclosures. Interestingly, this report shows that many companies are voluntarily going beyond required audit committee disclosures.

If you are not familiar with the CAQ you can read about it in our June 16, 2015 post at:

seciblog.pli.edu/?p=405

The press release about this second “Barometer” report and a link to the full report are at:

www.thecaq.org/newsroom/2015/11/03/second-annual-audit-committee-transparency-barometer-reveals-encouraging-disclosure-trends-for-public-companies-of-all-sizes

It makes for very interesting reading and provides valuable information in the search for “best practices” for audit committee disclosures. The report focuses on audit committee disclosures about external auditor oversight for companies in the S&P Composite 1500. As you read it you will see many companies voluntarily disclose information about topics ranging from issues considered in recommending the audit firm for appointment/reappointment to the audit committees role in selecting the engagement partner.

 

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!