Preparing for the FASB’s New Lease Accounting Standards

Important tips on how to get ready for one of the most far-reaching regulatory changes in recent memory.

By Steven Bandolik and Sean Torr

Steve Bandolik
Steven Bandolik, Director, Deloitte Services LP

One of the most far-reaching regulatory changes in recent memory arrived with relatively little fanfare this past winter. In February, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) released its long-awaited revised guidance on accounting for lease transactions, following the International Accounting Standards Board’s (IASB) similar guidance for international companies.

The centerpiece of the new rules is the requirement that lessees (tenants) bring most real estate and equipment leases onto their balance sheets. For tenants, that shift creates new assets and liabilities for financial reporting and eliminates off-balance-sheet lease transactions. Those with high volumes of leases or lease information distributed in multiple global locations, languages and currencies face a challenge that requires immediate attention. The good news, however, is the rule-makers decided to leave lessor (landlord) accounting essentially unchanged.

Ripple effect

While the requirements are poised to hit retailers and banks particularly hard on the storefront side, any organization with a big real estate footprint will likely need to alter how it accounts for leases. The FASB implementation window—now through 2019 for public companies and 2020 for private companies—stands to be busy for companies requiring new IT system solutions or procedural overhauls to handle the new calculations and reporting requirements.

Sean Torr, Deloitte
Sean Torr, Advisory Director, Deloitte & Touche LLP

Keep in mind the following considerations:

  • Dual recording begins now: The comparative reporting requirement of the new lease accounting rule requires companies to record leases under both existing US GAAP and new FASB lease accounting rules during the comparative reporting period (i.e., 2017 and 2018 for a U.S. public company that reports by calendar year). Companies will need the appropriate infrastructure to dual-record lease data during this period.
  • Remember Sarbanes-Oxley: Regulation co-mingling isn’t uncommon in the financial world, and these new lease accounting rules are no different. Compliance necessitates that lease accounting data is subject to internal controls mandated by the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Few companies, if any, have all necessary lease data in a centralized, electronic format that’s been subjected to appropriate internal control procedures.
  • Impacts beyond accounting: The effects of the new standards extend well beyond accounting and reporting into such areas as treasury, budgeting, procurement, tax and real estate administration. Involving appropriate stakeholders early can reduce bottlenecks to compliance later.

To learn more about how the new FASB guidance affects your company and how to prepare, read the recent edition of Heads Up, the Deloitte newsletter dedicated to trends in accounting.

Steven Bandolik is a director with Deloitte Services LP and a senior leader in Deloitte’s real estate services practice. A 30-year industry veteran, Bandolik provides advisory services in a wide range of business areas, including capital markets, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, investments, restructuring and reorganization, workouts and asset recovery.

Sean Torr is a Deloitte Advisory director in Deloitte & Touche LLP, where he leads the Lease Accounting Services group. Torr has nearly 20 years of experience assisting large, complex clients with accounting convergence implications and financial reporting requirements.