Monthly Archives: February 2017

Revenue Recognition Series: Why Were the New Revenue Standards Issued?

revenue recognition

In order to fully appreciate the implications of the new revenue standards it is helpful to understand the process which led to the changes.

Over the past decade, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), which establishes generally accepted accounting principles in the United States of America (US GAAP), and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), which establishes generally accepted accounting principles for over 100 adopting countries (International Financial Reporting Standards or IFRS), embarked on a joint project to develop criteria for revenue recognition and reporting that would accomplish key goals, including, but not limited to:

  • Remove inconsistencies and weaknesses in existing revenue requirements
  • Provide a robust framework for addressing revenue issues
  • Improve the comparability of revenue recognition across entities, industries, jurisdictions, and capital markets
  • Provide more useful information to financial statement users by improving disclosures
  • Simplify financial statement preparation by making the requirements more concise

While the final standards issued by the FASB and the IASB were not fully converged, many of the major principles in the standards are now more closely aligned than they were under legacy US GAAP and IFRS. Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, and related subsequent amendments (collectively, the new revenue standards) provide guidance on both how revenue should be recognized by organizations and disclosed to stakeholders in financial statement footnotes.

How will revenue recognition diverge from current guidance under the new standards?

Under the new five-step approach required by ASU 2014-09, focus is placed on gaining a holistic understanding of contract elements and terms and disclosing this information to financial statement users.

When contracts include variable consideration or provide the customer with both a good and a service, an entity’s evaluation of how and when consideration is earned will require careful assessment. Currently, contracts are often tracked at the contract level, once the new standards are in place, tracking may be necessary at either a disaggregated level that corresponds to identified performance obligations and associated transaction prices in the contract, or at an aggregate level with other contracts. Furthermore, contracts that include warranty provisions or options to purchase additional physical goods or services will need to be analyzed to identify potentially distinct performance obligations.

While contracts receive considerable focus under the new standards, substance will continue to take priority over form, as the FASB did not want entities to manipulate contracts in order to achieve preferred accounting conclusions. With that said, contract pricing may begin to shift as the new standards are implemented, in order to facilitate alignment of the point at which customers are billed and the point at which revenue is recognized.

How will industry-specific situations be treated under the new standards, now that prior guidance is being replaced by principles-driven fundamentals? Where can my entity find additional information?

The shift away from detailed, proscriptive industry guidance has left many in positions of financial reporting responsibility wondering how they can best comply with the new standards, while also remaining aligned with industry practice.

While the FASB and the IASB worked to provide guidance with applicability across industries, as soon as the finalized core standard was issued, 16 revenue recognition task forces were established by the AICPA to address potential industry-specific issues that were either not addressed or ambiguous in the capstone guidance. The industries involved in the project include aerospace and defense, construction contractors, hospitality, not-for-profits, software, and telecommunications, among others.

Industry-specific questions have been identified by the task forces which are then reviewed by the AICPA’s Revenue Recognition Working Group (RRWG) and Financial Reporting Executive Committee (FinREC), as well as the FASB’s Transition Resource Group (TRG), where applicable. More information regarding the revenue recognition implementation issues that these groups have identified and discussed is posted regularly on the AICPA Revenue Recognition Resource Center and the FASB Revenue from Contracts with Customers Project Update.

Coming up next

The next post in this ongoing series will highlight allowable transition methods, elements of the standards that should be considered in current contract negotiations, and critical actions that should be taken immediately. In the following months, we will explore the five key elements of the new revenue recognition criteria in more detail.

For further information on the revenue recognition standards or questions on how your organization can transition to the new standards, contact Rachel Plumley at 301.231.6200 or, or Philip Steigner at 301.231.6200 or Stay tuned for future posts.

Related Posts:

Revenue Recognition Series: Part 1 – Helping You Prepare for the Inevitable


Accounting Anomalies – Indicators of a Hacker?


Companies investigating hacks put too much emphasis on technology and too little on business analysis. Organizations should look closely into accounting anomalies as they could be indicators of a breach.  In an article by Dune Lawrence in Bloomberg Businessweek, Jeffrey Johnson, President & CEO at SquirrelWerkz and recent presenter at The U.S.-China Economic and Security Commission (USCC) said “All this time we’ve been focused on the technology layer, but it’s just a means to an end.” “What we forgot to do was to focus on the business transactions.” In 2012, Johnson was asked to examine a breach at a U.S. chemical company. An earlier investigation by the FBI concluded that Chinese hackers had penetrated the company’s network using a phishing email and gained control of servers.  

Dune Lawrence explained that as Johnson began digging into the company’s business plans and operational data, it became clear the damage was more extensive and insidious. He uncovered evidence that the hackers were intercepting inbound orders, as well as outbound e-mails with price quotes and other terms. They also tampered with the ordering system for raw materials, causing production delays, and made off with valuable research related to a line of environmental products. The likely beneficiary of all the malicious activity emerged, Johnson says, when a Chinese firm made a low-ball offer for the U.S. company after its performance began faltering as a result of the hack.

Look closely at each financial statement line item for anomalies and ask for professional help to investigate if something seems to be amiss.

Read a recent article about Phishing emails here. For more information, please contact Aronson’s Melissa Musser, CPA, CISA, at 301.231.6200.

Goodwill Impairment Analysis Simplified with Removal of Step 2 Requirement


The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has amended the Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) Topic 350 related to the subsequent measurement of goodwill via Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2017-04. Under the ASU, companies will no longer perform Step 2 of the goodwill impairment analysis. Instead, the entity or reporting unit will compare the fair value of the entity or reporting unit to its carrying amount just like in Step 1. The impairment charge, if any, is simply the lesser of (i) the difference between the fair value of the reporting unit and the carrying amount, or (ii) the remaining carrying amount of goodwill. The entity or reporting unit still has the option of performing a qualitative analysis to determine whether or not a quantitative test is needed (i.e. Step 0).

Although different filing entities have different dates after which they must adopt the new procedures, early adoption is permitted for all entities, including public business entities, for testing dates after January 1, 2017.

Companies and their stakeholders have pushed for many years to simplify the standards related to business combinations and subsequent measurement of goodwill due to concerns over complexity and cost. In response, FASB first introduced the alternative Private Company Council (PCC) Standards in 2014 for private companies, which reduced some of the complexity related to post-acquisition accounting and purchase price allocations. Furthermore, this should significantly reduce the cost and complexity of performing a goodwill impairment analysis for public and private companies that are not adopting the PCC alternative.

Aronson LLC’s Financial Advisory Services practice assists clients in a variety of industries with numerous M&A-related activities, including pre-acquisition due diligence and post-acquisition purchase price allocation analyses, and impairment testing. For information about how Aronson can provide assistance in these areas, please contact Jimmy Zhou at 240.364.2698.



Revenue Recognition Series: Helping You Prepare for the Inevitable

revenue recognition

No matter if you are a small, medium or a large business, by now you’ve heard the most important reportable item on your financial statement is about to change. What you should be asking yourself however is: are you ready for it?

In September 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) warned companies that many will need to accelerate their preparation in order to be ready by the revenue standard’s effective date. The new standard replaces approximately 120 elements of industry-specific guidance in current U.S. GAAP with a more principles-driven approach to revenue recognition, and thus implementation may become an extensive project.

Published in May 2014 as FASB Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers, with related additional ASUs subsequently providing guidance on narrower elements, the standards collectively are the result of more than a decade of debate about how businesses and groups should report revenue. The standards offer core principles to determine how and when to record revenue, unlike the rules-based guidance U.S.-based entities are accustomed to applying.

Why is revenue the most important measure? 

All users of financial statements (including management, shareholders, lenders, analysts, investors, and regulators) look to revenue as a performance and health measure of a company. Because revenue is reported as a cumulative amount of a certain period of time, trends and comparisons are analyzed as well as revenue being an important input in key financial ratios. Revenue can be the attraction or diversion to a company’s ability to attract investors, borrow money, calculate compensation and benefits, and even in tax planning.

Check back with us as we provide a series of updates and guidance to help you prepare now and in the future.

This is the first in a series of publications designed to provide assistance with implementing and understanding FASB’s new standard on revenue recognition.  We are excited to give you a more in-depth view into how the changes will impact the measurement and disclosure of what is considered the most important measure of a company’s performance. Over the following months, we hope you will follow along and join us in looking at this new standard. We will provide you with what you need to know to determine the best strategies for successful adoption of the standard, as well as a practical approach to updating your policies and procedures to achieve convergence.

For further information or questions, contact Aronson’s Philip Steigner at or Rachel Plumley at Stay tuned for future posts.

NCI, Inc. Reports $18 Million Embezzlement by Corporate Controller


Last week, NCI, Inc. reported that it fell victim to $18 million of embezzlement by its corporate controller. Read the Company’s Press Release here.

NCI is a Northern Virginia-based provider of enterprise solutions and services to U.S. defense, intelligence, health, and civilian government agencies. The controller reportedly embezzled $5 million in 2016, and $13 million over the previous five years. According to the Company’s preliminary findings, the misappropriations were reflected as expenses in the Company’s financial statements. Accordingly, NCI has concluded that the un-audited interim financial statements for the nine-month period ending September 30, 2016, contain material errors related to the theft in that period and therefore should not be relied upon by investors. The misappropriations were also treated as allowable indirect costs on its government contracts. How the Company will be obligated to reimburse the government for any such costs paid to it in the course of its government contracts[1] remains unclear. The Company has stated that it expects to recover a “large portion” of the funds from the former controller and through insurance coverage.

Though the fraud at NCI is considerably large, embezzlement by corporate insiders, particularly accounting personnel, is not uncommon. According to a study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) in 2016, companies typically lose an estimated 5% of their revenues to fraud. Moreover, nearly 17% of the frauds reported in that study were perpetrated by accounting personnel – more than any other department.

To learn more about Aronson’s fraud investigation capabilities, or if you feel that your company may be the victim of a fraud, please contact Michael Kresslein at 240.364.2612 or Bill Foote at 301.231.6299.

[1] According to NCI’s most recent 10-Q filing, for the nine-month period ended September 30, 2016, cost-plus fee contracts represented 60% of total revenue.

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