FASB Plots Out Future Agenda
The Financial Accounting Standards Board is asking for feedback on its future agenda.
FASB issued an invitation to comment last week asking for suggestions on which accounting and financial reporting topics should be added its to-do list in the next few years.
FASB recently surveyed its various advisory groups, who offered several suggestions. They include intangible R&D assets, pensions, post-retirement benefit plans, separating liabilities from equity, and reporting performance and cash flows.
“Now that many of the FASB’s major projects are complete, we are considering other areas of financial reporting that stakeholders think we should improve,” said FASB Chair Russell G. Golden in a statement. “But to develop the right solutions, we must first identify the right problems. And that means listening carefully to our stakeholders’ experiences, input, and concerns. This Invitation to Comment gives our stakeholders the chance to identify potential issues we should consider, as well as how best to prioritize them.”
Separately, FASB also issued a proposed accounting standards update last week on consolidation for not-for-profit entities, clarifying when a not-for-profit entity that is a general partner should consolidate a for-profit limited partnership or similar entity.
Another recent proposed accounting standards update, on employee benefit plan master trust reporting, came from FASB’s Emerging Issues Task Force. The proposed update mainly relates to the reporting by an employee benefit plan of its interest in a master trust, that is, a trust for which a financial institution such as a bank or trust company serves as a trustee or custodian and in which assets of more than one plan sponsored by a single employer or by a group of employers under common control are held.
In a FASB newsletter last week, Golden explained the thinking behind the project. “In the area of employee benefit plans, the FASB is looking to reduce complexity,” he wrote. “We are approaching this project in two waves. The first wave was completed in July 2015, when we issued a standard that reduces cost and complexity for employee benefit plans when preparing their financial statements, while maintaining or improving the usefulness of the information provided to their users. The Board worked extensively with experts in benefit plan accounting to identify opportunities for improvement. … As a part of the second wave, we currently are working on a proposal to improve the reporting by an employee benefit plan for its interest in a master trust. A master trust is a trust in which assets of more than one plan sponsored by a single employer or by a group of employers under common control are held. Because many employee benefit plans hold investments in master trusts, some stakeholders have said that master trust disclosures is an area in which standard setting is needed.”