Even as implementation of a massive new accounting standard on revenue recognition lags, it is internal controls over financial reporting and data security that weigh heaviest on financial reporting executives, according to a recent poll by KPMG.
Of 400 financial executives who attended a recent KPMG symposium on accounting and financial reporting, only 29 percent said their companies had a clear plan for how they would implement the new revenue recognition standard that takes effect in 2018 for public companies. The standard requires companies to present three years of historical information under the new requirements, so revenue companies are earnings with the opening of the 2016 calendar year will be subject to the new rules.
More than one-fourth, or 27 percent, said they are taking no action on the new standard because they are waiting for the Financial Accounting Standards Board to complete some narrow scope guidance meant to help clarify questions that arose in the early stages after the final standard was issued in May 2014. More than half, or 55 percent, said they are currently assessing the effects of the new standard.
Only 12 percent said they have completed or are nearly finished with their assessments. An even smaller number, only 3 percent, said they have implementation activities under way; another 3 percent said they have begun parallel reporting under both the old and new rules so they will have historical data prepared under the new standard when it takes effect.
Yet it is not revenue recognition preparation that most worries financial executives, according to the poll. Instead, it is the continued pressure on internal control over financial reporting. Nearly one-third, or 31 percent, said internal controls are at the top of their worry list beyond their basic financial reporting responsibilities. One-fourth, or 26 percent, put data infiltration and IT security ahead of internal controls and other concerns, an area that bottomed out in the same survey only a year prior, KPMG says.
Following data security, 20 percent of financial executives said they are most troubled by tax compliance; 17 percent cited the overall specter of future regulatory mandates as their biggest worry.
"Clearly, the existing regulatory focus on internal controls over financial reporting and the here-and-now have overshadowed last year's fear of any unknown future regulatory changes that may or may not occur, while continuing headlines of data breaches have raised concerns across the C-suite," said John Ebner, national managing partner in audit at KPMG. "The poll results demonstrate the significant and broad responsibilities that fall to the CFO's unit in developing the company's financial performance and other financial communication reports."