Victor Hugo once wrote that the one thing more powerful than all the armies on earth was an idea whose time has come.
Adhering to that belief, one could argue that the idea of ending the LAX Hilton's 22-year string of hosting the annual California Accounting and Business Show is definitely an idea whose time has come. Let's face it, when a venue has a $9.95-per day-high-speed Internet service that can't read a Safari browser, or, for that matter, is unable to muster even a modicum of air conditioning for all the exhibition floor space, it's probably time to begin soliciting requests for proposals.
But I digress.
How about financial reporting for private companies -- more commonly referred to as Big GAAP vs. Little GAAP?
The idea of differential reporting standards is an idea that has been kicked around longer and more often than a soccer ball in Brazil.
Even those with a fleeting knowledge of generally accepted accounting principles know that a "one size fits all" philosophy in financial reporting is akin to installing a Buick transmission in a VW Beetle.
When questioned about differential standards at a New York press conference some three years ago, William McDonough, then-chairman of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, seemed as enthusiastic about the prospect as W.C. Fields opening a day care center.
And it could raise some interesting litigation issues when a defendant may be questioned as to why his company used a different set of standards.
But more than three decades after the proposal first began to merit serious consideration, is it finally time to move ahead?
On a purely quantitative basis, the answer would appear obvious. There are roughly 17,000 companies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and about 20 million that are privately held.
Last week, the American Institute of CPAs and the Financial Accounting Standards Board issued a long-awaited joint proposal, that seeks "constituent feedback" toward improving the financial reporting process for private companies.
Specifically, the effort is looking for feedback on proposals to enhance FASB's standard-setting procedures and determine whether it should give serious consideration to developing private company standards.
Once all the responses are collected from those involved in private company reporting, such as lenders, investors and practitioners, I'll let far more knowledgeable minds sort it out and determine how to proceed.
The comment period ends in mid-August.
Even though he never stayed there, Victor Hugo's famous quote applies to exiting the LAX Hilton. Now whether it applies -- in whole or in part -- to the creation of private company GAAP will undoubtedly be debated for at least a while longer.
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