New lease standard effective date and summary of the recent FASB meeting
Last month (July, 2019), FASB met to discuss several outstanding items, including the effective date for lease accounting for private companies and nonprofits. After deliberation and recommendations, the Board decided to postpone the effective date for private companies and nonprofits for 12 months pending a public comment period. If there is no opposition to the proposed lease accounting delay, the new ASC 842 effective date for private companies will be January 1, 2021.
It is expected that there will not be any opposition to postponing the lease accounting effective date. Many considered the postponement necessary so companies can use the extra time to learn from the experiences of public companies so they could implement the new standard effectively and efficiently. This only impacts domestic leases for domestic companies, as it appears that IASB does not plan to change the effective date. Accordingly, any lease that is outside of the United States will most likely need to comply with the new standard according to the IASB guidance and effective date.
ASC 842 transition – what you need to do now
LeaseQuery recently conducted a survey and found that 58% of private companies say they are in the beginning stages of adoption. Whether you’re in the early stages or you have yet to get started, don’t let the extended deadline lull you into a false sense of security. Use the additional time wisely.
There are a number of things you must do in order to transition to the new standards, and the process is more difficult than you think. In our recent survey, we found that 50% of respondents in the early stages anticipated the transition to be neither easy nor difficult. Companies who are further along in the transition process, however, have a different opinion. 67% percent found the process to be difficult. This may be due in part to the number of steps you must take to transition, which are listed below.
1. Start building an inventory of your leases
Completeness of your lease inventory is a crucial component of the compliance picture. We gave guidance on how to develop a comprehensive lease inventory in this blog. To quickly summarize, you’ll need to work with numerous departments across the company, so you need to look at your requisitions process to determine which departments contracts are funneled through. From there, you’ll need to document each lease and its pertinent details in a template. This is an organizational cultural change of centralizing a practice that has often been done in a decentralized manner in most companies.
2. Begin gathering your embedded leases
As part of your lease inventorying process, you will also need to compile your embedded leases. Embedded leases are commonly found within service agreements, so it is likely that your existing service contracts will need to be reassessed.
There is a practical expedient that says you don’t need to re-evaluate expired or existing contracts. However, this assumes you haven’t made any errors in your current assessment. In order to be sure, you will still need to reassess your contracts.
If you’re struggling with gathering your embedded leases, you’re not alone. Many companies are overwhelmed by this process. There are some common types of contracts that contain embedded leases, which you can use as a starting point:
- Security contracts often contain leases for equipment, such as scanners or monitors
- Logistics and transportation agreements may contain language that identifies a specific vehicle to be used solely for your needs
- Data center contracts may designate specific servers for your company, which could amount to a lease
To help you identify your embedded leases, we offer a free interactive embedded lease test that you can use to determine if your contracts contain leases:
3. Prepare for the calculations you need to make
There is a complex set of calculations you have to complete in order to be fully compliant. Beyond net present value, you also need to calculate:
4. Start evaluating software
Lease accounting software for ASC 842 will save you an immense amount of time, but it does take some upfront legwork to get the right solution up and running. If you’re weighing whether or not to start now, consider how you’ll benefit from an early start:
- Give yourself time to thoroughly evaluate your options and find the best one for you
- Reduce stress during the implementation process
- Be comfortable using the software well before you need to pull your first post-transition journal entries and reports
- As you gather leases, you have a centralized location to store them in
This extra time allows you to properly vet lease accounting software and select the one that meets your needs. While the new deadline has not officially been disclosed, finding the right software and transitioning to the new standards requires a lot of time and due diligence. We cover the steps companies need to take to transition in more depth in our transition guide:
Additional benefits of being proactive
1. Being proactive will help you avoid pitfalls public companies faced
As previously stated, 67% of the companies we surveyed found the transition process to be a difficult one. Part of the reason is that many of them planned to and often did transition with Excel. Not only did this increase the amount of time they took to enter their leases, but it often left them with doubts about its accuracy.
2. You could be catching errors now
Many companies have horror stories about their experience using Excel for their lease accounting. One of our clients stated that tracking their leases in Excel resulted in a $648,000 overpayment on one of their leases. The inability to set up a trigger to notify the accounting department that rent should have been fully abated on every anniversary of the lease led to a steep fee. Another company lost over a $2 million Tenant Improvement Allowance (TIA) after they realized during the acquisition process that their TIA was not transferred because there was nowhere in Excel to capture that information. In a recent study, Robert Half found that 90% of CFO’s surveyed stated that planned to change the lease accounting solution that they originally decided on.
3. You could be forecasting and budgeting better now
Being proactive means more than finding the right software. It sets you up for the ability to forecast on your leases, so you can identify how much money you will spend on your leases in a given period, as well as how much you’ll spend by a particular region, department, or business division. Using anything other than a lease accounting software means a lot of extra work and heavy lifting to calculate the above. It’s important to find a lease accounting solution with custom reporting features so you can create a report based on any allocation or segment you need. That way, you can be an expert in the room as your colleagues need information about leases.
What’s ahead of you
Imagine if FASB had not delayed the effective date and you have not begun your transition? In addition to your day job, there are several things you must do for adoption, including:
- Go through two budget cycles
- Go through several quarter-end closes
- Go through one year-end close
- Go through one year-end audit
- Evaluate software to support the new standard
- Choose the right software to support you
- Implement the software
- Input all the supporting information
- Get trained on the software
- Test the results of the new software
- Be ready for all the transition reporting and accounting
While adopting the new standards seems like a massive undertaking, the best thing to do is just start. Having this extra time is a gift. No matter where you are in the adoption process, we advise you to keep going.