Big changes are coming for financial statements, if the Financial Accounting Standards Board's recent discussion with its advisory board is any indication.This spring, at a meeting of its Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council, the board and staff discussed their working ideas on what statements could and should look like in the future if they are going to be useful. The discussion took place in the context of the board's joint project with the International Accounting Standards Board on financial statement presentation. It was held in anticipation of releasing a preliminary views document sometime this fall.

Those hoping this project will do nothing more than provide a light wax and buff are facing a major disappointment, if not a heart-clinching shock. A quick perusal of the briefing materials makes it apparent that the boards are aiming at a major redesign, not just an overhaul. Change for its own sake would not be good, but neither would sticking to the status quo when it has outlived its usefulness. The issue is whether such radical changes are needed.

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