FASB hits ‘pause’ on goodwill project

BVWireIssue #237-3
June 22, 2022

goodwill, fair value, fair value measurements, goodwill impairment, impairment testing, intangible, accounting, financial accounting standards board (FASB)

The big news at the 2022 ASA NY Fair Value Conference last week was that the FASB has dropped its project on goodwill, but it could be revisited in the future. “The goodwill project has been removed from the active agenda,” Joy Sy, a supervising project manager at the FASB, told conference attendees. That means it will not be seeking any more stakeholder feedback on the matter but will monitor developments on this matter, including a project on goodwill disclosures at the International Accounting Standards Board.

For the past four years, the FASB considered whether annual goodwill impairment tests should be done away with for public companies in favor of a new model that would include amortization. For the most part, the valuation community believed that, from a user perspective, the benefits of the transparency and information the current impairment model provides outweigh the costs. The cost-benefit issue was one of the factors that triggered the FASB to take on the project in the first place. Also, the CFA Institute (CFAI) expressed serious concerns about the possible reversion back to amortization.

May be back: But the FASB will not simply “throw it out,” said Richard Jones, FASB chair, during its June 15 meeting that decided the project’s fate. “To the extent that it becomes relevant in a future period, it is certainly something we can look at,” he said. During the meeting, FASB board members said they did not think the current impairment-only model is a good reflection of goodwill and they believe it needs improvement. This time around, there just wasn’t enough of a case made for the change, which would have been significant. But the project will not disappear, and “we may be able to bring it back again one day,” said Jones.

Also, there’s an ongoing intangibles project at the FASB that remains “active,” said Tanya Paul, a post-doctoral fellow at the FASB who gave an update on that project at the ASA conference. Under that project, potential improvements are being considered for items including accounting and disclosure of intangibles, including software costs, internally developed intangibles, and research and development.

We’ll have more takeaways from the ASA Fair Value Conference in next week’s BVWire.

Please let us know if you have any comments about this article or enhancements you would like to see.