Still looking for some help on revenue recognition? The accounting profession has published a book that might offer guidance.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants has produced an audit and accounting guide specifically to help companies navigate the many practice issues that arise in applying the new revenue recognition rules under Accounting Standards Codification Topic 606. While public companies began applying the guidance at the beginning of 2018, the AICPA produced the guide for all companies, public and private, that are wrestling with the upending of industry-specific practices.
Historic accounting rules on revenue recognition evolved piecemeal over generations, often providing guidance specific to a number of industry sectors. ASC 606 did away with all those industry-specific approaches to require all companies to recognize revenue under a common methodology, making financial statements more comparable ultimately.
When the Financial Accounting Standards Board issued the new guidance in ASC 606, it also formed a Transition Resource Group with the International Accounting Standards Board to field implementation questions. The AICPA took that approach a step further to create industry-specific task forces that would focus on implementation questions likely to surface in specific sectors.
Regulators, including staff members at the Securities and Exchange Commission, were skeptical, at least at first. They worried individual task forces would arrive at different technical interpretations or conclusions that would fracture a common approach to applying the new rules. The AICPA said the task forces were meant to help different industry sectors because they were starting from different places by observing different historic rules.
The 16 industry task forces produced position papers, addressing how to interpret and apply the new rules to various revenue recognition conundrums arising in different sectors. Those papers have all been assembled into the current audit and accounting guide. Chapters in the guide focus on issues arising in aerospace and defense, asset management, brokers and dealers, gaming, healthcare, engineering and construction, software, airlines, and others.
Calendar-year companies that applied the guidance for the first time in January 2018 have just endured their first full-year audits under the new guidance in conjunction with their year-end reports. As companies moved through each quarter in 2018, comments from the SEC made it clear regulators were looking for improvements. The guide also contemplates audit issues that may arise, including audit planning; risk assessments, especially fraud risk; auditing estimates; internal controls; management representations; independence; disclosures; audit evidence; and others.