Takeaways from the 2016 Lease & Finance Accountants Conference

Posted 10/08/2016

By John Bober

The ELFA Lease & Finance Accountants Conference, held in Baltimore in September, took on added significance this year, due to the issuance earlier in the year of the new lease accounting standards by the FASB and IASB.  The conference focused on the new standards and broke them down into subtopics, which provided attendees with an in-depth understanding of the new rules as well as the open questions around those rules.

Some of the topics discussed in the breakout sessions included: 

  • The criteria for distinguishing between leases and service contracts,
  • The impact of the new standards on build to suit transactions,
  • The classification and measurement systems in the standards,
  • Separation of lessee payments into lease and non lease components (a very new concept),
  • Changes to existing lessor accounting models,
  • The impact of the new rules for captive and vendor finance companies, and
  • Efforts involved during the transition to the new standards.

The lease accounting changes received the most attention during the conference, but the agenda was not limited to this one subject. There were sessions on the state of the industry, residual impairments and lease pricing.  We were also treated to a talk by Kevin Kallaugher, the editorial cartoonist for the Economist and Baltimore Sun.  His cartoons have frequently appeared on the Economist’s cover, and his insights into the creative process were greatly appreciated by the audience.  Pity the sessions that immediately followed!

Lease Accounting and Other FASB and IASB Projects

We were once again honored to have the participation of board members from the FASB and IASB at the conference.  While the views they expressed were their own and not necessarily the views of the Boards, they provided us with their thoughts on the final lease standards, focusing on the efforts companies would need to undertake when transitioning to the new model and the provisions of the final standards that make initial adoption easier for lessees.  They also discussed what is up next for Boards, given the completion of the leasing, revenue recognition and credit loss standards.  The FASB will be concentrating on targeted improvements to accounting in certain areas, such as goodwill, and the IASB will primarily be working on insurance accounting and their conceptual frame work.

Regulatory Update

For the first time in many years we also had representatives of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s chief accountant’s office and the Federal Reserve Board.  The SEC’s presentation focused on current hot topics, including non-GAAP financial measures, the use of capitalization thresholds by lessees, SAB 74 disclosure requirements for the lease standard and the presentation of restated results in the five year summary table when the new standard is adopted.  The FRB presentation covered other regulatory questions, including the evolving regulatory capital considerations related to a lessee’s capitalized lease assets.

Further Reading 

If you missed the conference and wish to learn more about the topics that were covered, copies of the session handouts and audio recordings are available on ELFA’s Conference Resource Center. 

John Bober is Managing Director and Global Technical Controller for GE Capital and is the Chair of the ELFA Financial Accounting Committee.

 Note: Find more resources on this topic on the lease accounting page. See photos from the 2016 ELFA Lease and Finance Accountants Conference.

Author
Amy Vogt
Organization
ELFA

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