Rev Rec Trail Blazers? We Can Learn Together!

By: George M. Wilson & Carol A. Stacey

What do United Health Group, Alphabet, and Ford have in common? What if we also included Raytheon? That’s right, all these companies have early adopted the FASB’s new revenue recognition standard! Microsoft and Workday have also indicated that they plan to early adopt. Microsoft has indicated they will adopt as of July 1, 2017 and file their first 10-Q under the new method for the quarter-ended September 30, 2017. Workday has said that they will early adopt as of February 1, 2017 and hence their first 10-Q under the new method will be for the quarter-ended April 30, 2017, which should be filed soon. Here is a summary of some of the early adopters:


Early adopters who have filed with ASU 2014-09:

Alphabet                                        January 1, 2017           Modified Retrospective

Ford                                                 January 1, 2017           Modified Retrospective

United Health Group               January 1, 2017            Modified Retrospective

First Solar                                     January 1, 2017            Full Retrospective

General Dynamics                     January 1, 2017            Full Retrospective

Raytheon                                     January 1, 2017            Full Retrospective


Planned adoptions – no filing yet:

Workday                                  February 1, 2017         Full Retrospective

Microsoft                                July 1, 2017                 Full Retrospective


(If you know of any other companies that have early adopted it would be great if you could mention them in a comment on this post or email Carol or George – Thanks!)


As is always the case with a major new standard, it is helpful to learn from the experience of folks who have gone past the frontier to the leading, and hopefully not the bleeding, edge! Here are a few highlights and links to Form 10-Q’s with the new standard adopted.


From Alphabet’s Form 10-Q for the first quarter of 2017:


In May 2014, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2014-09 (Topic 606) “Revenue from Contracts with Customers.” Topic 606 supersedes the revenue recognition requirements in Topic 605 “Revenue Recognition” (Topic 605), and requires entities to recognize revenue when control of the promised goods or services is transferred to customers at an amount that reflects the consideration to which the entity expects to be entitled to in exchange for those goods or services. We adopted Topic 606 as of January 1, 2017 using the modified retrospective transition method. See Note 2 for further details.


Alphabet’s disclosures, including how they decided to disaggregate revenues, make for interesting reading!


From Fords Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2017:


On January 1, 2017, we adopted the new accounting standard ASC 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers and all the related amendments (“new revenue standard”) to all contracts using the modified retrospective method. We recognized the cumulative effect of initially applying the new revenue standard as an adjustment to the opening balance of retained earnings. The comparative information has not been restated and continues to be reported under the accounting standards in effect for those periods. We expect the impact of the adoption of the new standard to be immaterial to our net income on an ongoing basis.


You can read about the impact of the change on revenues and review Fords Note 3 – Revenue to see how they decided to present the new disclosure for disaggregated revenues.


Raytheon, who had previously announced they would early adopt, did so in their Form 10-Q for the First Quarter of 2017, which you can find here.


Note 2: Accounting Standards

In May 2014, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued ASU 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606), which replaces numerous requirements in U.S. GAAP, including industry-specific requirements, and provides companies with a single revenue recognition model for recognizing revenue from contracts with customers. The core principle of the new standard is that a company should recognize revenue to depict the transfer of promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the company expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services. The two permitted transition methods under the new standard are the full retrospective method, in which case the standard would be applied to each prior reporting period presented and the cumulative effect of applying the standard would be recognized at the earliest period shown, or the modified retrospective method, in which case the cumulative effect of applying the standard would be recognized at the date of initial application. In July 2015, the FASB approved the deferral of the new standard’s effective date by one year. The new standard is effective for annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2017. The FASB permits companies to adopt the new standard early, but not before the original effective date of annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2016. Effective January 1, 2017, we elected to early adopt the requirements of Topic 606 using the full retrospective method.


Raytheon’s disclosures for the full retrospective adoption, and the volume of their disclosures overall because of their government contracting business, are great reading for anyone facing similar issues.


From United Health Groups Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2017:


In May 2014, the FASB issued ASU No. 2014-09, “Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606)” as modified by subsequently issued ASUs 2015-14, 2016-08, 2016-10, 2016-12 and 2016-20 (collectively
ASU 2014-09). ASU 2014-09 superseded existing revenue recognition standards with a single model unless those contracts are within the scope of other standards (e.g., an insurance entity’s insurance contracts). The revenue recognition principle in ASU 2014-09 is that an entity should recognize revenue to depict the transfer of goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the entity expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services.


The Company early adopted the new standard effective January 1, 2017, as allowed, using the modified retrospective approach. A significant majority of the Company’s revenues are not subject to the new guidance. The adoption of ASU 2014-09 did not have a material impact on the Company’s consolidated financial position, results of operations, equity or cash flows as of the adoption date or for the three months ended March 31, 2017. The Company has included the disclosures required by ASU 2014-09 above.


General Dynamics early adopted with the full retrospective method. From their Form 10-Q for quarter one 2017:


The majority of our revenue is derived from long-term contracts and programs that can span several years. We account for revenue in accordance with ASC Topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, which we adopted on January 1, 2017, using the retrospective method. See Note Q for further discussion of the adoption, including the impact on our 2016 financial statements.



First Solar also early adopted and used the full retrospective transition method. Here is an excerpt from their Form 10-Q for quarter one of 2017:



In May 2014, the FASB issued ASU 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606), to clarify the principles of recognizing revenue and create common revenue recognition guidance between U.S. GAAP and International Financial Reporting Standards. Under ASU 2014-09, revenue is recognized when a customer obtains control of promised goods or services and is recognized at an amount that reflects the consideration expected to be received in exchange for such goods or services. In addition, ASU 2014-09 requires disclosure of the nature, amount, timing, and uncertainty of revenue and cash flows arising from contracts with customers.


We adopted ASU 2014-09 in the first quarter of 2017 using the full retrospective method. This adoption primarily affected our systems business sales arrangements previously accounted for under ASC 360-20, which had required us to evaluate whether such arrangements had any forms of continuing involvement that may have affected the revenue or profit recognition of the transactions, including arrangements with prohibited forms of continuing involvement. When such forms of continuing involvement were present, we reduced the potential profit on the applicable project sale by our maximum exposure to loss.


Microsoft and Workday will also be filing with the new standard this year, so watch for their first 10-Q’s this year. Here is Microsoft’s SAB 74 disclosure (not included here is the section in which they say it is their intent to also early adopt the new lease standard as of July 1, 2017), followed by Workday’s SAB 74 disclosure for revenue recognition.



Revenue from Contracts with Customers

In May 2014, the FASB issued a new standard related to revenue recognition. Under the standard, revenue is recognized when a customer obtains control of promised goods or services in an amount that reflects the consideration the entity expects to receive in exchange for those goods or services. In addition, the standard requires disclosure of the nature, amount, timing, and uncertainty of revenue and cash flows arising from contracts with customers.


The guidance permits two methods of adoption: retrospectively to each prior reporting period presented (full retrospective method), or retrospectively with the cumulative effect of initially applying the guidance recognized at the date of initial application (modified retrospective method). We plan to adopt the standard using the full retrospective method to restate each prior reporting period presented.


The standard will be effective for us beginning July 1, 2018, with early adoption permitted as of the original effective date of July 1, 2017. We plan to adopt the standard effective July 1, 2017. While our ability to early adopt using the full retrospective method depends on system readiness, including software procured from third-party providers, and completing our analysis of information necessary to restate prior period consolidated financial statements, we remain on schedule and have implemented key system functionality to enable the preparation of restated financial information.


We have reached conclusions on key accounting assessments related to the standard. However, we are finalizing our assessment and quantifying the impacts related to accounting for costs incurred to obtain a contract based on guidance issued by the FASB Transition Resource Group as part of their November 2016 meeting. We will continue to monitor and assess the impact of any changes to the standard and interpretations as they become available.


The most significant impact of the standard relates to our accounting for software license revenue. Specifically, under the standard we expect to recognize Windows 10 revenue predominantly at the time of billing rather than ratably over the life of the related device. We expect to recognize license revenue at the time of contract execution rather than over the subscription period from certain multi-year commercial software subscriptions that include both software licenses and Software Assurance. Due to the complexity of certain of our commercial license subscription contracts, the actual revenue recognition treatment required under the standard will depend on contract-specific terms and in some instances may vary from recognition at the time of billing.


We expect revenue recognition related to our hardware, cloud offerings including Office 365, LinkedIn, and professional services to remain substantially unchanged.

We are nearing completion of retrospectively adjusting financial information for fiscal year 2016 and are progressing as planned for fiscal year 2017. We estimate our revenue would have been approximately $6 billion higher in fiscal year 2016 under the standard primarily due to the net change in Windows 10 revenue recognition.





We have closely assessed the new standard and monitored FASB activity, including the interpretations by the FASB Transition Resource Group for Revenue Recognition, throughout fiscal 2017. In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2017, we finalized our assessment of the new standard, including completing our contract reviews and our evaluation of the incremental costs of obtaining a contract. Based on our assessment, we decided to early adopt the requirements of the new standard in the first quarter of fiscal 2018, utilizing the full retrospective method of transition.


The impact of adopting the new standard on our fiscal 2017 and fiscal 2016 revenues is not material. The primary impact of adopting the new standard relates to the deferral of incremental commission costs of obtaining subscription contracts. Under Topic 605, we deferred only direct and incremental commission costs to obtain a contract and amortized those costs over the term of the related subscription contract, which was generally three years. Under the new standard, we defer all incremental commission costs to obtain the contract. We amortize these costs over a period of benefit that we have determined to be five years.


As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome! And if you hear of or know of any other early adopters please put that in a comment to this post, or email George or Carol

Do you represent a public company?

SEC Reporting and Practice Skills Workshop for
Lawyers 2017

Hone your SEC reporting skills at this interactive Workshop designed specifically for lawyers. Attendees will build the foundational knowledge and practical experience necessary to prepare and review the SEC’s periodic and current reporting forms. Learn the structure and details of Forms 10-K, 10-Q, and 8-K, with particular emphasis on challenging and complex disclosures and how to effectively use the SEC’s guidance. This definitive course is perfect for beginners or as a refresher for experienced SEC reporting professionals.

Key Topics Will Include:

  • Key disclosures and issues in Forms 10-K, 10-Q, and 8-K, and the proxy statement
  • All-important sources of SEC reporting rules and guidance, including Regulations S-X and S-K, and the Staff Accounting and Staff Legal Bulletins
  • How to communicate with the public within the constraints of the SEC’s rules
  • How to ensure compliance by executives with Section 16 reporting
  • Latest developments, including the Dodd-Frank pay ratio and pay vs. performance disclosures

What You Should Bring:

Bring your company’s or a client’s most recent public disclosures: 10-K, 10-Q, recent 8-K and one or more press releases. If you work with a private company, filings from a company in the same industry are a reasonable alternative

Dates & Locations:

June 29-30: New York City

October 2-3: Dallas/Grapevine

October 26-27: Chicago

Register Now!



Demystifying Alternative Financing Solutions for Emerging and Growing Companies

Auditors and Financial Officers of companies who raise capital with complex financial instruments often find themselves drowning in convoluted accounting issues and restatements. Avoid the confusion by attending the live workshop, Debt vs. Equity Accounting for Complex Financial Instruments being held May 25th in New York City and June 23rd in San Francisco. Through a detailed review of the accounting literature and numerous examples and case studies this Workshop will help you build the knowledge and experience to appropriately recognize, initially record and subsequently account for these complex financing tools


Challenging Accounting Judgments, Principles Based Standards and ICFR

By: George M. Wilson & Carol A. Stacey

As you have undoubtedly heard from a variety of sources (including this post we made last December), the new revenue recognition, financial instruments impairment and lease standards all involve many new and sometimes complex accounting judgments and estimates.


Issues ranging from how to estimate current expected credit losses to what is stand-alone selling price confront us with new, difficult, and subjective judgment calls.


Even the Chief Accountant has discussed this issue in a recent speech, which we discussed in our blog. In his remarks, the Chief Accountant focused on ICFR, specifically mentioning:


“Having the requisite skills in the accounting and financial reporting area to make the many new, complex judgements required by these standards, and


Setting an appropriate tone at the top to assure these judgments are made in a reasonable, consistent and appropriate manner.”


To help us all deal with these challenges the Anti-Fraud Collaboration, a group made up of the Center For Audit Quality, FEI, NACD and IIA, has issued a report titled “Addressing Challenges for Highly Subjective and Complex Accounting Areas”.


This report is built on a foundation of detailed analysis of several SEC and PCAOB enforcement cases, a webcast and two workshops. The report has a robust discussion of several of the issues underlying these enforcement cases. One important conclusion drawn from this work is that a lack of controls surrounding subjective and complex accounting judgments is frequently a root cause underlying reporting problems. Based on this conclusion, the report includes a discussion of ways to help establish appropriate controls for such estimates and judgments. In fact, one of the enumerated objectives of the report is to:


“Facilitate a robust discussion about accounting policy, centering on highly subjective and complex accounting areas, and the design and operating effectiveness of ICFR”

In the report, there are several insights into ICFR issues surrounding complex judgments. For example:


Difficult Accounting Issues


Three accounting issues were problematic for companies under investigation: revenue recognition, loan impairment, and valuation. Both highly subjective and complex, these three areas were under stress during the financial crisis and therefore more prone to manipulation or error. The analysis of the AAERs also highlighted issues with the accounting policies pertaining to these areas. In the enforcement actions studied, the SEC cited that the companies either did not have an adequate accounting policy or procedure for the issue being investigated; the company was non-compliant with their existing policy or procedure; or that management acted to override the company’s accounting policy.



The report goes on to state:


For all members of the financial reporting supply chain, the importance of tone at the top cannot be overstated. In most cases of alleged financial fraud, the SEC names the CEO and/or the CFO in the complaint. Commission staff noted that the driver of earnings management—the catalyst for most fraud cases—is often top management, such that the focus on the CEO and CFO is not surprising. In cases the PCAOB has brought against individual auditors, it is usually the lead audit engagement partner or other senior members of an audit engagement team who are disciplined.



Hopefully, as you think about the design of ICFR over the new estimates and judgments required to implement the revenue recognition, lease and financial instrument impairment standards, you will find some helpful ideas in this report.


As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!



A JOB’s Act Update

By: George M. Wilson & Carol A. Stacey

When Congress passed the JOBS Act in 2012 they built it to last. When financial laws last a long time they frequently need a bit of periodic updating. With all credit to Congress and the drafters who designed the JOBS Act, they included provisions for the SEC to make periodic updates in the Act.


On April 5, the SEC made several updates, which include an increase in the revenue threshold to qualify as an Emerging Growth Company to $1,070,000,000, an increase from $1,000,000,000. You can read about all the other updates, most of which relate to Regulation Crowdfunding here.


As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

Overcome the Challenges Resulting from the FASB’s New Lease Accounting Standard!

The FASB’s new lease accounting standard presents complex accounting, internal control, systems and implementation challenges. Attend SECI’s live interactive workshop, Implementing the FASB’s New Leases Accounting Standard Workshop being held May 17th in Dallas with additional dates and locations this fall. Attendees will learn the conceptual underpinnings, overall structure and details of this new standard as it applies to both lessees and lessors. Implementation considerations, system issues and related topics will be discussed in detail and concepts will be reinforced by use of examples and case studies.


The Enforcement Division Found Evidence How?????

By: George M. Wilson & Carol A. Stacey

Earlier in March the Enforcement Division announced a settled case against homebuilder Desarrolladora Homex S.A.B. de C.V. This company fraudulently inflated revenues by reporting the sale of over 100,000 homes that had never been built or sold! This was a huge fraud, over $3 billion!

All of that is interesting, but what is really fascinating is how the SEC found that the homes had never been built. They used satellite imagery! You can see one of the pictures here.

We are tempted to say “watch the skies”, but that sounds too much like a 50’s sci-fi movie trailer…..

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

A Bit of SEC News and a Hopefully Enjoyable Video

By: George M. Wilson & Carol A. Stacey

In the first few weeks of the new Administration there was news from the SEC including reconsideration of the Conflict Minerals and Pay Ratio disclosures as well as the legislative repeal of the Resource Extraction Payment disclosure.

While there have not been as many highly publicized developments in recent weeks, the Commission is continuing its normal business. A final rule for Hyperlinks to Exhibits, a proposal to for Inline XBRL, approving an XBRL Taxonomy for IFRS, and a Request for Comment to consider changes to Bank Holding Company Disclosures in Guide 3 are a few of the normal course of business things going on at the SEC. The Enforcement Division continues its normal process with cases ranging from an auditor trading on inside information to a Ponzi scheme involving resale of Hamilton tickets. And, of course, CorpFin continues its review program, and after reviewing over 50% of all companies last year it will be interesting to see the numbers this year.

In a way, especially with so many of our SEC reporting community working on year-end and quarter-end reports, it is nice to have a normal flow of work from the SEC instead of big stories!

So, enjoy the lull! And, to have a bit of fun in this lull, here is a hopefully entertaining diversion. The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has, via its investor.gov website, produced a number of educational videos for investors. This one, titled “Don’t let someone else live the life you’ve been saving for”, is particularly entertaining! Enjoy!



As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

Jeepers – More Whistleblower Enforcement Cases? – Do We Have the Message Yet?

By: George M. Wilson & Carol A. Stacey

Just a few weeks ago we did the latest in a series of posts about the SEC’s Whistleblower program. That post focused on two significant enforcement cases where companies attempted to impede whistleblowers. For other posts in our whistleblower series, see:

Our post discussing the background of the SOX and Dodd/Frank whistleblower programs

Our post about the total amount being paid-out to whistleblowers exceeding $100,000,000 (It is even more today!)

Our post discussing a company having to pay a $500,000 fine for firing a whistleblower

SEEMS LIKE THE MESSAGE SHOULD BE CLEAR BY NOW! Don’t try to limit how employees can blow the whistle.

But, the Enforcement Division is not done!

In a case announced on January 17 a company paid a $650,000 fine for including language trying to restrict whistleblower rights in over 1,000 severance arrangements. After removing the language the company also voluntarily agreed to conduct annual training for employees about their whistleblowing rights.

In a case announced on January 21 the SEC found a company that actively searched for a whistleblower, to the point of essentially threatening employees. The reason for the hunt was clear, the treasurer and the company had manipulated information related to hedge accounting and was actively trying to hide the fact that certain hedging relationships were not effective. When the SEC began to ask questions about the issue, the company suspected someone had blown the whistle. The company tried to ferret out the whistleblower, compounding their offenses. The company and the treasurer both paid fines.

There is a very important reason for these cases. In many situations a fraud would go undetected if it were not for the conscience and courage of whistleblowers.

It would seem that the SEC is actively searching for more enforcement cases to make the point that it is illegal for a company to try and prevent or impede employees from blowing the whistle.

Not to be too preachy, and hopefully to be a bit practical, here are two thoughts:

For all of us who may see a need to blow the whistle, know that this is never easy, and know that you have rights and protections.

For companies, don’t try to hide problems and make sure any agreements surrounding employee departures don’t have these kinds of restrictions!


As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

XBRL for Foreign Private Issuers Using IFRS

By George M. Wilson & Carol A. Stacey

Foreign Private Issuers (FPI’s) who file using IFRS have been in a conundrum about XBRL because there was no usable IFRS taxonomy. The SEC excepted these FPI’s from XBRL until an appropriate taxonomy was developed.

A usable IFRS XBRL taxonomy was formally announced by the SEC on March 1, 2017. The announcement includes a link to the IFRS XBRL Taxonomy that FPI’s must use.

The SEC indicated that FPI’s who use IFRS may begin to submit XBRL financial statements immediately, and that they MUST submit XBRL financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 2017.


As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!