A fresh survey on transition to the massive new revenue accounting rule suggests three in four public companies are still assessing how they will be affected with only 14 months to the effective date.
PwC and Financial Executives Research Foundation polled more than 700 executives representing a broad cross section of companies affected by the new revenue recognition requirements taking effect in 2018. Only 17 percent of the public companies represented in the sample had worked their way through the assessment and were actively implementing the new accounting standard, under which companies will need to present three years of financial statement data following a new method. A disturbing 8 percent said they hadn’t yet even started to prepare for the new accounting.
The Financial Accounting Standards Board adopted a new standard for revenue recognition that require all companies to follow a new, five-step method for determining when and in what amounts they will recognize revenue in financial statements. While every company will be affected to some degree, accounting experts have said some companies will feel the change more than others, largely depending on their industry sector.
The new PwC/FERF survey found 52 percent of companies have not yet decided whether they will adopt the requirements under the full retrospective or modified retrospective approach, an option permitted under the standard. The full retrospective method means recasting all three years of revenue data contained in a set of financial statements, applying the accounting to each and every transaction in that historic data. The modified method allows companies to do some cumulative adjustments with disclosures to present the historic revenue numbers.
Companies seem to be finding the document reviews to be among the most challenging aspects of adopting the review, followed closely by developing and implementing the new accounting policies that are necessary. Documentation to assure the conversion process can be audited is another difficult issue, companies reported, along with quantifying adjustments, managing the entire project, revising systems and associated controls, and simply identifying accounting differences across the organization.
PwC partner Dusty Stallings says many companies don’t expect the new rules to have a material impact on the income statement, but many companies performing impact assessments also are finding more changes than they initially expected. “With revenue being one of the most important financial metrics for companies, we believe that most companies should expect to see some level of impact,” she said in a statement.
Andrej Suskavcevic, president and CEO of FERF and Financial Executives International, says it’s encouraging to see more companies moving actively to prepare for adoption, especially with a new lease accounting standard awaiting corporate adoption the very next year in 2019. “The companies that haven’t started to assess the impact, however, need to do so rapidly to meet the adoption deadline for revenue recognition while also implementing the new lease accounting standard,” says Suskavcevic.