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FASB Mulls Changes in Accounting for Below-Market Lending

March 21, 2011

The Financial Accounting Standards Board may be changing the rules on how banks account for loans made at below-market rates in order to win future business from a client.

The Financial Times reported Sunday that the accounting standard-setter is considering the rule change as part of its ongoing efforts to set the rules for fair value accounting. While FASB has moved away from requiring banks to record all their loans at fair value, it may decide to make banks disclose when they give their favored clients below-market rates, along with the difference between the transaction price and the fair market value of the loan.

Some banks, such as Bank of America have come out against the changes in their comments to FASB, but some, such as Goldman Sachs, appeared to support such a change. Goldman believes it would clarify the linkage between lending and investment banking, which it refers to as “relationship lending.” As we know, those relationships can be cozy indeed when a large bank hopes to win future business from big business clients.

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