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FASB Might Take a Breather on Standard Setting After Some People Yelled at Them

I'm sure working at the FASB is harder than I imagine it to be. What I imagine it to be is a bunch of people who like to read about accounting reading a lot about accounting. Then every once in awhile a few people get together to kick around crazy ideas about how to make accounting rules less awful. Then they share the least worst ideas and ask for input.

Everyone responds that they hate the ideas so the board members and staff go back to reading more about accounting and come up with something that people will hate less. Eventually they land on something everyone can live with and issue a new rule. If that's really far off, I'm sure someone who works at the FASB will get in touch to tell me what I got wrong.

In case you haven't been paying attention, the FASB has been busy lately. They have newly revamped revenue recognition and lease rules coming out in 2018 and 2019 respectively and people are worried about all the time and money they'll spend getting used to those new rules. Then there are changes to accounting for financial instruments and credit losses in 2018 and 2020. So yeah, a lot going on.

Earlier this year, the FASB requested comments on its agenda and there was a common refrain of "take a break already":

As he prepares to start the second of his two three-year terms as FASB’s chairman, Russell Golden said the board has gotten the message that the pace of change needs to slow down.

FASB recently asked the public for input on what its agenda priorities should be in the coming years.

“Some stakeholders opined that we should slow down on new projects until they’ve had the chance to absorb new guidance issued in recent years,” Golden said Tuesday at the AICPA Conference on Current SEC and PCAOB Developments. 

There are 45 comment letters on the FASB website about its agenda and while many have explicit preferences about what FASB takes on next, there are a host of others that tell them to tone it down a notch.

The comments range from "please take a sabbatical" to "Stop!" to "[W]e believe the Board can also effectively serve the financial reporting community by moderating the pace of its standard-setting activity" to "The absence of any new major projects will provide a period of 'calm'" to "[W]e do not believe that now is the time for the FASB to begin actively working on any new major projects" to California Congressman Brad Sherman's letter seeking repeal of Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No.2, Accounting for Research and Development Costs and doesn't mention FASB's agenda at all.

Enough people brought it up that Russ Golden and Co. will host a public roundtable on December 16th to talk it over. If you feel like making your gripes in person, you shouldn't miss it.