LONDON--()--The IASB and FASB are set to publish revised proposals for a new lease accounting standard but a survey of 3,450 businesses in 44 economies finds that, although 78% hold leases, only 42% are aware of these proposed global changes that could drastically alter their balance sheet. The global impact of the standard is expected to require companies reporting under US GAAP and IFRS to now record trillions of dollars of new assets and liabilities.
“We welcome efforts to improve the definition of a lease in order to distinguish leases from service contracts and address concerns about front-loaded expense recognition”
According to the quarterly Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR), the average business holds 20 leases. The average was highest in Sweden (68 leases per business), followed by Japan (49 leases per business), Finland (39 leases per business) and Australia (25 leases per business).
Awareness of the change was greatest in the US (75%), India (70%), Chile (60%) and the UK (56%), and was lowest in Lithuania (8%), France (13%), Brazil (13%) and mainland China (13%).
47% of businesses indicated their support for the pending changes, with 33% opposed.
“We welcome efforts to improve the definition of a lease in order to distinguish leases from service contracts and address concerns about front-loaded expense recognition,” said Ed Nusbaum, Grant Thornton International CEO. “The key question now is whether these changes address constituents' concerns sufficiently to enable the project to move forward - if not then a reboot will be needed.
“We have said earlier that the lack of transparency around operating leases needs to be addressed. The information in the financial statements currently does not provide complete, readily understandable information about the obligations associated with operating leases. But change for the sake of change is not the goal. A new standard that is not based on clear, consistent principles could actually make things worse. A major change to lease accounting is a once in a generation event and the Boards need to be patient to get things right.”
The survey was conducted by Experian in November and December 2012 as part of the quarterly Grant Thornton International Business Report with 3,450 respondents in 44 economies.