The Financial Accounting Standards Board is proposing another accounting delay, this time focusing on the effective date of a new standard that will change the way companies recognize insurance obligations in financial statements.
FASB adopted Accounting Standards Update No. 2018-12 in August 2018 to make “targeted improvements” in the accounting for long-duration insurance contracts. The standard alters the recognition of liabilities for future policy benefits and modifies the rate used to discount future cash flows. It also simplifies and improves the accounting for certain market-based options or guarantees tied to deposit or account balance contracts, simplifies the amortization of deferred acquisition costs, and improves disclosures.
The standard is scheduled to take effect for all public companies beginning Jan. 1, 2021, for calendar-year companies, with other entities following a year later. Now FASB is proposing to require SEC filers other than smaller reporting companies to comply beginning January 2022, with all other entities following a full two years later in 2024.
FASB recently revised its thinking about effective dates for accounting standards and proposed to delay several that have not yet taken effect, including new rules on credit losses for smaller reporting companies and new rules on leases for non-public companies. The board says it has come to recognize by monitoring implementation activities for major new rules the past few years that the system is a bit overloaded and needs more time to make changes, particularly affecting smaller and non-public companies with lesser resources.
While preparers are generally expected to applaud the delays, Moody’s issued a report recently indicating its concerns over comparability of financial statements, especially with public companies already reporting under rules that private companies would now have more time to adopt.
If FASB grants delays as proposed that will hinder the credit analysis process, Moody’s says, by compromising comparability between public and private issuers. “Such delays will hurt reporting transparency, affecting a swath of non-financial corporates across different sectors,” the firm says.
Moody’s points out the standard has been a long time coming, and the delay for some of the rules is last-minute. “Along with other financial statement users, we have been preparing for these changes to go live on the previously announced date,” the firm says.
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