Monthly Archives: July 2016

Do the Right Thing! – SEC Reminders for Auditors and Companies

As they occasionally, (and at times frequently), do, the SEC has sent us a reminder to do the right thing.


This most recent reminder actually started with an action announced last September against a company that involved one of the classic financial fraud reporting areas, inappropriate revenue recognition. The complaint alleges significant self-dealing by officers and a variety of other inappropriate actions to fabricate financial results. The case was serious enough that the company’s registration was revoked. You can read the press release and find related documents here.


Whenever an action like this is announced, one of the questions we all ask is “where were the auditors?”


Usually an action against auditors happens separately from the related action against a company. Many times the two are hard to correlate. In this case the action against the auditor took almost nine months longer. It was formally announced on July 22, 2016. The SEC’s order against the auditor found that the auditor


“failed to perform sufficient procedures to detect the fraudulent sales in the company’s financial statements. (The Audit Firm) also failed to obtain sufficient audit evidence over revenue recognition and accounts receivable, identify related party transactions, investigate management representations that contradicted other audit evidence, perform procedures to resolve and properly document inconsistencies, and exercise due professional care.”


In the action the partner for this engagement paid a fine of $25,000 and was permanently suspended from practice before the SEC. This includes both auditing and working as a company accountant. The firm paid a $100,000 penalty and it can only begin accepting new public company clients again next year after an independent consultant certifies that the firm has corrected the causes of its audit failures. You can read the release and find related documents here.


As a final reminder about accountant’s and auditor’s role as gatekeepers the enforcement staff said:


“Auditors are supposed to act as gatekeepers to protect the integrity of our markets, but (The Audit Firm) failed to live up to their professional obligations”.


As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

More About S-3 and the Transition to the New Revenue Recognition Standard

In a recent post we explored a very complex securities registration issue within retrospective application of the new revenue recognition standard. (The issue arises with any retrospective application, so it will also arise in the new leasing standard.) In a nutshell the registration issue comes up when you:


(1) Adopt the new revenue recognition standard as of January 1, 2018 (assume a December 31 year-end), then

(2) File your March 31, 2018 10-Q and then

(3) File an S-3 to register to sell securities.


The S-3 incorporates your 2017 Form 10-K by reference which includes 2015 financial statements. The 2015 financial statements would not normally be retrospectively adjusted for the new revenue recognition standard. In this case though that could be necessary. You can read all the technical details here.


This first post led to a really interesting question from a reader. What happens if you file the S-3 before you file your March 31, 2018 10-Q? We explored the issue in this post.


This then led to a really great comment from another reader. In our workshops we always emphasize building research skills and using all the relevant SEC resources, especially the CorpFin Financial Reporting Manual (FRM). This really astute reader found this section in Topic 13 of the FRM:


13110.2  In the case of a registration statement on Form S-3, Item 11(b)(ii) of that form would specifically require retrospective revision of the pre-event audited financial statements that were incorporated by reference to reflect a subsequent change in accounting principle (or consistent with staff practice, discontinued operations and changes in segment presentation) if the Form S-3 also incorporates by reference post-event interim financial statements. If post-event financial statements have not been filed, the registrant would not revise the pre- event financial statements in connection with the Form S-3, however, pro forma financial statements in accordance with Article 11 of Regulation S-X may, in certain circumstances, be required. In contrast, a prospectus supplement used to update a delayed or continuous offering registered on Form S-3 (e.g., a shelf takedown) is not subject to the Item 11(b)(ii) updating requirements. Rather, registrants must update the prospectus in accordance with S-K 512(a) with respect to any fundamental change. It is the responsibility of management to determine what constitutes a fundamental change.



Here there is at least some relief for the S-3 filed after year-end but before the Form 10-Q is filed! As a reminder S-X Article 11 contains this requirement:


  • 210.11-01   Presentation requirements.

(a) Pro forma financial information shall be furnished when any of the following conditions exist:


(Note: (1) to (7) omitted)

(8) Consummation of other events or transactions has occurred or is probable for which disclosure of pro forma financial information would be material to investors.


Some judgment will be required to make that decision! If the effect of the new revenue recognition standard is large enough, it could well be material to investors.


Similarly, for the S-3 shelf takedown S-K 512(a) includes this requirement (in bullet ii):


(ii) To reflect in the prospectus any facts or events arising after the effective date of the registration statement (or the most recent post-effective amendment thereof) which, individually or in the aggregate, represent a fundamental change in the information set forth in the registration statement.


Again, some judgment will be required to make that decision!


Thanks to both the readers who contributed to this discussion, and as always your thoughts and comments are welcome!


Disaggregation – Comment Letters and the New Revenue Recognition Standard

How often do you think of disaggregation in your financial statements? Generally, companies don’t present a lot of line-item details in their financial statements. Recently this issue has come up for us in two separate places.


If you have attended one of our large Midyear or Annual Forums you have had the fun of listening to Carol do an in-depth analysis of the comment letter process. She usually picks an interesting letter for a specific company and reviews both the overall process as well as the specific comments in the company’s letter.


In this year’s May and June Midyear Forms, Carol’s example letter included this interesting and “deep in the weeds” comment:

Consolidated Balance Sheets, page 33

  1. Please tell us how you have complied with Rule 5-02.20 of Regulation S-X. In this regard, we note your quantified disclosure of insurance liabilities and construction accruals. Please tell us whether there are any additional items included in other current liabilities that exceed five percent of total current liabilities.

The big theme here is of course disaggregation. Regulation S-X Article 5 has requirements about disaggregation for areas such as other current assets, other assets, other current liabilities and other liabilities. Generally, the requirements are that any individual account over 5% of the relevant total must be separately disclosed. Here is one example:

  • 210.5-02   Balance sheets.
  1. Other current assets. State separately, in the balance sheet or in a note thereto, any amounts in excess of five percent of total current assets.

There is also a similar requirement for components of revenue over 10% of total revenues:

  • 210.5-03   Income statements.


(b) If income is derived from more than one of the subcaptions described under §210.5-03.1, each class which is not more than 10 percent of the sum of the items may be combined with another class. If these items are combined, related costs and expenses as described under §210.5-03.2 shall be combined in the same manner.

As you can see, the consistent theme is to provide appropriate detail so readers can understand appropriate issues in the F/S.


This theme of disaggregation is a topic of discussion in the FASB’s financial statement presentation project and also is an important issue in the disclosure requirements in the new revenue recognition standard:

Disaggregation of Revenue

ASC 606-10-50-5

An entity shall disaggregate revenue recognized from contracts with customers into categories that depict how the nature, amount, timing, and uncertainty of revenue and cash flows are affected by economic factors. An entity shall apply the guidance in paragraphs 606-10-55-89 through 55-91 when selecting the categories to use to disaggregate revenue.

This new revenue recognition disclosure requirement will require substantial judgment to determine how much detail a reader will need to understand how the “nature, amount, timing and uncertainty of revenue and cash flows are affected by economic factors”. This is really the opposite of the S-X disclosure requirements above based on mechanical, quantitative 5% and 10% thresholds. The overall theme is the same though, be sure to consider how much detail readers really need to understand your financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.


As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!