The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy and the American Institute of CPAs have put aside their differences and pledged their cooperation on financial reporting frameworks for private companies after a dispute broke out between the two organizations over the AICPA’s recent issuance of its Financial Reporting Framework for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.

The AICPA released FRF for SMEs last month, stating that it was a non-GAAP Other Comprehensive Basis of Accounting, or OCBOA, to simplify the accounting for privately held businesses that do not need to use U.S. GAAP. However, NASBA quickly released a statement urging private companies not to use FRF for SMEs, arguing that FRF for SMEs represents non-authoritative guidance and would be difficult to regulate or enforce.

Instead it advised accountants to await the exceptions to private company GAAP that the Financial Accounting Foundation’s recently established Private Company Council are preparing (see NASBA Tells Private Companies: Don’t Use AICPA Financial Reporting Framework). The AICPA in turn sent a letter to the leaders of state CPA societies to explain its position (see AICPA Enlists Support of State CPA Societies in Spat with NASBA over FRF for SMEs). Other organizations also expressed their reservations about FRF for SMEs, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Institute for Management Accountants and the Financial Accounting Foundation, and a poll released last week indicated that accountants are worried that lenders might have difficult accepting FRF for SMEs as well (see Accounting Firms Foresee Challenges in Acceptance of AICPA Financial Reporting Framework).

In an effort to overcome their differences, NASBA and the AICPA released a joint statement Monday expressing their pledge to cooperate on private company financial reporting frameworks and develop tools and illustrative examples to help accountants determine which ones to use. They pointed out that they had cooperated only a few years ago on a Blue-Ribbon Panel on Standard-Setting for Private Companies, along with the Financial Accounting Foundation. That effort led to the creation of the Private Company Council, which operates under the auspices of the FAF in tandem with the Financial Accounting Standards Board, which the FAF also oversees, to recommend exceptions to accounting standards for privately held companies.

“The AICPA and NASBA have a shared belief that current Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) may not always meet the needs of small private businesses and the users of their financial statements,” NASBA and the AICPA said in the joint statement. “The Private Company Council (PCC), which was established as a result of the ‘Blue-Ribbon’ Panel on Standard Setting for Private Companies created by NASBA, the AICPA and the Financial Accounting Foundation, is currently developing an authoritative GAAP solution for private companies that we strongly support. The PCC has made excellent progress to date and both NASBA and AICPA are committed to the PCC’s eventual success in developing a GAAP-based financial reporting model for all private companies.

“As the PCC works to fulfill its mission to modify  GAAP for private companies, the AICPA has developed the Financial Reporting Framework for Small- and Medium-Sized Entities (FRF for SMEs) to provide private, owner-managed Main Street businesses a non-GAAP accounting framework that is simple to apply and cost beneficial,” the statement continued. “We believe that preparers and users of private company financial statements should responsibly assess the accounting approach to meet their current and future needs depending on individual company facts and circumstances.”

The two organizations said they would cooperate on developing a decision-making tool and illustrative examples to show when the use of FRF for SMEs is suitable for businesses or not.

“The AICPA and NASBA are committed to engaging in an effort to ensure that the FRF for SMEs, as a non-authoritative framework, is not confused with GAAP and that entities that utilize GAAP or a non-GAAP solution do so in a suitable and transparent manner,” they added. “To that end, the AICPA, with NASBA input, will develop a decision-making tool to assist entities with determining whether use of the FRF for SMEs is suitable or not. Additionally, illustrative financial statements and disclosures will be developed to distinguish FRF for SMEs-based financial statements from GAAP-prepared statements. CPAs who report on financial statements prepared in accordance with GAAP, or a special purpose framework, such as the FRF for SMEs, will be held to the highest standards of professional practice by U.S. Boards of Accountancy.”

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