Amid calls for a delay or changes to the pending new standard on credit losses, the top accountant at the Securities and Exchange Commission is defending the rulemaking process and its independence.
Wes Bricker, chief accountant at the SEC, said the Financial Accounting Standards Board has his “full support” in following its due process both in developing Accounting Standards Codification Topic 326, which requires a “current expected credit losses” to reporting loan losses, and now in answering calls for changes or a delay to the standard. Bricker spoke of his support for FASB between sessions at a Financial Executives International conference.
Big names in the financial services sector have simultaneously asked FASB to delay the effective date while studying CECL’s effect on the economy and to change the standard to alter its effect on the income statement. Emphasizing his belief in FASB’s process for developing standards and in the independence of the rulemaking process itself, Bricker praised FASB’s approach to balancing the information needs of the market with the needs of preparers.
“Discussions about how to best balance CECL and how to best balance getting information into the marketplace is exactly what FASB has done and will continue to do, and they have my full support in going through that process,” Bricker said.
FASB has acknowledged the calls for delay or changes to the standard, but has not yet acted publicly to consider the requests. Jim Kroeker, vice chairman at FASB, speaking at the same conference, said the board considered the concerns that are now being raised and settled on the CECL model after extensive consultation. Now the board will be looking to hear what has changed or what has emerged that has not already been considered, he said.
The CECL standard developed in the years following the financial crisis, when capital markets said the current model, which permits reporting only when losses are virtually assured, failed to provide adequate advance warning. Investors called that out, Kroeker said, when they told the board “the existing incurred loss model was not helpful.”
The board has walked a fine line in writing a rule that would reflect economic activity and how management runs its business rather than drive it, said Kroeker. “The board was satisfied that CECL represents a useful improvement to financial reporting, or the board wouldn’t have issued it,” he said.
Guided by questions that are taken to FASB’s Transition Resource Group, the board continues to evaluate whether changes to the standard are warranted, said Kroeker. “We continue to monitor progress of implementation,” he said. “We continue to get positive messages that people aren’t behind the curve. CECL is an active standard, and I would encourage people to continue to move forward expecting to implement on the effective date.”