A new survey by Deloitte reveals the quality of data, the complexity of compliance, and a lack of confidence in IT systems are the main concerns for companies ahead of the finalizing of a new lease accounting standard, with almost 80 percent of executives believing that compliance with the new standard will be difficult.
The finalized lease accounting standard could be issued in 2014 with an expected effective date no sooner than 2017. The standard will require companies to recognize on their balance sheets the assets and liabilities resulting from all leases of more than 12 months in duration, based on the present value of the lease payments.
The survey also indicates that companies are no more prepared to comply with the standard than they were two years ago. When it comes to real estate lessees, confidence in their preparations for the new standard has actually dropped with a mere 1 percent “extremely” or “very” prepared to comply in 2013, down from 9 percent in 2011.
A report last week by The Wall Street Journal on a recent joint meeting between the standard-setters indicated that FASB and the IASB may scale back the scope of the new standards to avoid making major changes in the lessor accounting rules, instead focusing on lessee accounting.
“It’s clear that lessees are increasingly forecasting difficulties complying with the new standard, though the concerns for lessors look to be easing,” said Deloitte Transactions and Business Analytics LLP director Scott Hileman in a statement. “The lack of progress and, in some cases, regression on compliance since 2011 is partly a result of the uncertainty regarding the new standard. However, given the standard's complexity, the financial impact and the significant data challenges posed, companies should start getting their houses in order.”
Nearly half of the executives polled by Deloitte cited an effect on financial ratios from the new leasing standards, with significant effects on debt to equity (71 percent) and return on assets (52 percent) cited by the survey respondents. The impact on lessees appeared to be more severe than on lessors, with the former group far more likely to cite these impacts.
Other findings from the Lease Accounting Survey include:
- Executives expect the reporting burden to increase: Executives surveyed predicted the new standard will place a greater reporting burden on lessees of real estate (88 percent) and equipment (85 percent), as well as lessors of equipment (73 percent) and real estate (71 percent).
- Full-service impact will be greater: Executives at companies where less than half the real estate portfolio consists of full-service leases were much more likely to anticipate major or significant impacts to the balance sheet, disclosures, financial ratios, and the income statement.
- Implementation timescales viewed as longer: 52 percent of executives believe implementation will require one year or longer, a significant rise from 33 percent in the 2011 survey.