While the standard setter for accounting principles in the United States is the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), many countries outside the United States follow accounting standards set by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). For the past several years, the FASB and the IASB have been working hard to unite or “converge” their accounting principles such that, effectively, only one set of rules exists. Until recently, the process has worked reasonably well, but now, in the process of developing the standards for insurance contract accounting, the efforts toward conformity have hit a snag—maybe temporarily, maybe not. This snag, together with other developments mentioned below, appears to be slowing down the convergence of accounting standards.
Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog
For the foreseeable future, the accounting standard setter in the United States, also known as the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), will continue to set generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for private companies. The trustees of the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF), the oversight body of the FASB, recently rejected the concept of establishing a separate accounting board that would prescribe GAAP for private companies, sometimes termed “baby GAAP.” They concluded that the FASB should continue to set GAAP for all companies that report financial results in the United States.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is in the final stages of updating its generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS) for financial statement audits of companies in the United States that are not subject to the rules and regulations established by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). Several years ago the AICPA decided its auditing standardsshould be updated to make them clearer, and at the same time strive to conform them to the standards issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board.
The current rules for lease accounting in the United States go back to 1976 and have been interpreted, modified, amended, and revised numerous times over the years. The existing U.S. accounting standard is complex and, some say, arbitrary because it allows companies to structure transactions to meet the rules of the standard, and helps keep significant liabilities off their balance sheet.