The past two years have been big years for new accounting standards. Many entities have been diligently working on implementing the revenue recognition standard, the new lease standard and the credit loss standard. Other entities are breathing a sigh of relief that FASB delayed the effective dates of some of these standards for certain entities.
Learn more about revenue recognition’s impact.5 Steps to Understanding the New Revenue Recognition Standards
With all the talk generated by these three big standards, one accounting standards update (ASU) that may have flown under the radar for many entities is ASU 2016-01: FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS—OVERALL (SUBTOPIC 825-10): RECOGNITION AND MEASUREMENT OF FINANCIAL ASSETS AND FINANCIAL LIABILITIES.
The Impact of ASU 2016-01
ASU 2016-01 is effective for public business entities for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2017. For all other entities, including nonprofits and employee benefit plans, the update is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 31, 2018, which means 2019 calendar year-ends.
ASU 2016-01 eliminates the classification categories of equity investments and their differing treatments (trading, available-for-sale, or held to maturity securities). This includes equity investments in partnerships, LLCs and unincorporated joint ventures.
The ASU also eliminates the concept of cost method investments. Under the ASU, all equity investments, other than those measured using the equity method or those requiring consolidating of the investee, are required to be reflected at fair value on the balance sheet with changes in fair value recognized in net income. Previous guidance required changes in fair value from available for sale and held-to-maturity investments to be “parked” in other comprehensive income until the gains or losses were realized. This change will increase net income volatility due to the performance of a company’s investments.
What to Do to Implement ASU-2016-01
An entity may elect to measure investments that do not have readily determinable fair values at cost, minus impairment, plus/minus changes resulting from observable price changes in orderly transactions of an identical or a similar investment of the same issuer. Note that investments measured using the practical expedient of Net Asset Value (NAV) per share are not eligible for this treatment. Entities should be sure to document this election upon implementation or purchase of these securities (the election can be made on an investment-by-investment basis). These investments are required to be qualitatively assessed for impairment at each reporting period. If considered impaired, the investments are required to be adjusted to fair value, an adjustment that is included in net income.
Don’t get caught overlooking the impacts of ASU 2016-01. While the implementation steps aren’t overly complex and likely won’t be time consuming for most entities, financial statement users should be prepared for the volatility and potential impact to net income.