“The consultative document says that we get a forum of 12 made up of standard-setters and regional groupings, like EFRAG (European Financial Reporting Advisory Group) and the AOSSG (Asian-Oceanian Standard-Setters Group),” he said. “The proposal is two from North America, one from South America, three from Europe, three from Asia Oceania, one from Africa and two at large. We have proposed 12 because we think that’s a workable number, but already we have heard feedback: What about 16, what about 18, what about 20? The difficult task is going to be picking the 12 because you’re leaving somebody good out, even if you get 16. So we’ll see what our constituents say. We aim to meet every three months and to be working actively on current projects, so it’s not a long-term process. It’s working with the board, with the IASB, on current projects. We want to get perspectives from all around the world and understand conditions around the world. It’s a new way of setting standards, so it’s very much an experiment. I’m very hopeful it will be a very positive engagement. We’ll give it a couple of years and see if we have to expand it, if we have to do something different. We’ll find out as we go. But I think this is a good start on working on a multinational, multilateral basis. We have the first meeting next March.”
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The new group will not include regulators. The regulators already meet separately from the standard-setters, he noted.
The IASB recently had a consultation on what its future agenda should be. After a “period of calm,” the IASB plans to tackle some changes in agricultural standards as well as standards for rate-regulated industries such as power companies. Mackintosh also believes there will be a large group of research projects conducted by different standard-setters, with the aim of producing discussion papers that will be used to determine whether a particular project should be moved onto the IASB’s agenda, Mackintosh noted. The aim is to get those concept papers completed by 2015.
Seidman said FASB hopes to tackle some projects that are currently on the back burner after consulting with its advisory board, FASAB. Those are likely to include pension accounting and the treatment of government grants. FASB has been receiving inquiries about these topics and its staff has already begun researching them. In some cases, FASB will build on the work done by its sister organization, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, as well as the IASB.
“We’re going to concentrate over the next year or so on completing the projects that we’ve been working on,” she said. “With revenue recognition going out as the first of the major projects, we’re going to be focusing significantly on making sure that we have the right support for a good implementation of that standard. We’re currently developing a plan for how to do that and planning to work with the AICPA, the FEI’s committee that’s been set up on rev rec for implementation, and trying to make sure that we’re hearing about any questions people have on a real-time basis and providing transparent responses to them, but stopping short of developing any sort of a cookbook or detailed rules to go with, which would sort of defeat the purpose of the whole thing.”
During a later press conference, Seidman clarified that FASB will be coordinating with the American Institute of CPAs to be in line with its industry audit guides. “The AICPA has industry audit guides out on many, many industries, so at a minimum they need to update them for any change in accounting-related revenue recognition,” she said. “They have reached out to us and we have reached out to them. What we would like to do is coordinate out efforts so that we’re surfacing issues on a timely basis, and if there’s a need to provide any interpretive guidance that we do that on a timely basis so everybody knows what to do. What we want to avoid, though, is creating a bunch of detailed guidance to supplement what is widely viewed as a principle-based standard.”
Seidman briefly discussed during the panel the disclosure framework that FASB has been developing to reduce disclosure overload on financial statements. Mackintosh noted that the IASB is also planning to host a forum in London next January to discuss disclosure overload.
Seidman said she is excited about working with the newly established Private Company Council, whose first meeting will be in December. The PCC will initially review some of the comments received on the proposed differential framework for determining when to set differences in private company standards.
Seidman noted that her own agenda will be full, even though her term as the head of FASB ends next year. “I have seven months to go, but I’m not planning to wind down until June 15,” she said.