An analysis of Fortune 1000 disclosures about the impending changes to revenue recognition provides further disturbing evidence that companies are making only sluggish progress in preparing for the new accounting.
Deloitte analyzed disclosures by the Fortune 1000 in their most recent periodic filings and found half had not yet determined whether they would adopt the new revenue recognition standard following the full or modified retrospective methods. Only 10 percent said definitively they were electing the full retrospective method, meaning they will present three years worth of financial data as if the standard had always been in effect when they adopt the new accounting in 2018.
The analysis also suggests companies made little progress advancing their revenue recognition adoption efforts during the first quarter, when they were presumably consumed with year-end filing duties. In a random sample of 10 percent of the Fortune 1000 companies, only 15 percent provided incrementally more information in the first quarter than they did at the end of 2017 about their implementation efforts. Of those that expanded their disclosures, they generally addressed the new revenue standard’s expanded disclosure requirements, the company’s focus on accounting processes and internal controls, and their intended transition method, Deloitte says.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has messaged often it expects companies to provide not just data, but also plenty of qualitative disclosure under Staff Accounting Bulletin No. 74 to explain to investors what’s about to happen to their reported revenue as a result of adopting new rules. SAB 74 requires companies to disclose the expected effect of adopting new accounting standards in future periods.
The Financial Accounting Standards Board finalized the new revenue rules in mid-2014, then made some subsequent clarifications and updates as companies studied them, including deferring the effective date for public companies to 2018. Private companies have an extra year to prepare.
Deloitte says “very few” companies in its analysis have provided hard numbers to investors to explain how their reported revenue will be affected under the new standard, but the majority have moved beyond “we’re evaluating the impact” to provide some kind of narrative description of how they’ll be affected. Roughly 40 percent said at year-end and in the first quarter that they expected the effect of adopting the new standard to be immaterial.
Meanwhile, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants continues with its industry-focused task forces to issue more drafts of guides to implementing the new standard. AICPA’s Financial Reporting Executive Committee issued more than a dozen working drafts of interest to companies in software, health care, hospitality, asset management, engineering and construction, and gaming sectors.
FinREC is asking for feedback by Aug. 1 so the issues can be incorporated into the AICPA’s evolving guide on the new revenue accounting.