In perhaps the first signs of fissures in the financial reporting system, 60 percent of public companies in KPMG’s June poll said they are “facing challenges” in implementing the new revenue recognition standard and 39 percent saying they were still assessing how they’ll be affected.
That’s more than three years after the Financial Accounting Standards Board published massive new rules for all companies to alter the way they determine when and in what amounts to recognize revenue in financial statements. For public companies, the new rules take effect Jan. 1, 2018.
Various surveys and polls over the past few years have indicated companies have dragged their feet in preparing for the new rules, both in determining how the new five-step method for recognizing revenue will affect their particular patterns of revenue recognition and in adopting the processes and procedures necessary to comply. The KPMG poll says only 6 percent of companies indicated they had completed implementation and were ready to follow the new rules.
A mid-2017 analysis of Russell 3000 disclosures by Audit Analytics also provides some disturbing indicators of the lagging effort to prepare. Only 21 of those companies had completed implementation, and nearly half of the population had not yet decided what method they would use to follow the new rules. “This may indicate that a significant number of companies are not far enough into their analysis to even make the determination,” the research firm wrote.
In fact, Audit Analytics points out nearly 150 companies in the Russell 3000 had not disclosed anything about their adoption of the new revenue rules, despite repeated calls by the Securities and Exchange Commission for increasingly specific disclosures as companies move closer to the adoption date. Intel is the largest of such companies, the firm says. “Surely the semiconductor giant’s almost $60 billion in revenue will be affected by the new standard, but we are unable to find any disclosure about its impact in the company’s Q2 2107 10-Q,” Audit Analytics says.
Experts are beginning to openly predict companies will miss filing deadlines, blow internal controls, and even restate financial statements as a result of transition and implementation problems.
“Because many public companies have underestimated the impact of the new revenue recognition standard and are likely behind where they should be in preparing for the new standard, I anticipate we’ll see an increase in late 10-Q filings for the first quarter of 2018 and increased material weaknesses and restatements related to revenue,” says Steve Hobbs, a managing director at Protiviti. “Regulators and external auditors will continue to have revenue recognition in their targets, particularly during the transition reporting periods.”