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U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Codification of Staff Accounting Bulletins

Topic 6: Interpretations of Accounting Series Releases and Financial Reporting Releases

  1. (A.1.) Removed by SAB 103
  2. Accounting Series Release 280 -General Revision Of Regulation S-X: Income Or Loss Applicable To Common Stock
  3. Accounting Series Release 180 -Institution Of Staff Accounting Bulletins (SABs)-Applicability Of Guidance Contained In SABs
  4. Redesignated as Topic 12.A by SAB 47
  5. Redesignated as Topic 12.B by SAB 47
  6. Removed by SAB 103
  7. Accounting Series Releases 177 and 286—Relating to Amendments to Form 10-Q, Regulation S-K, and Regulations S-X Regarding Interim Financial Reporting
    1. Selected Quarterly Financial Data (Item 302(a) of Regulation S-K)
      1. Disclosure of Selected Quarterly Financial Data
      2. Financial statements presented on other than a quarterly basis
      3. c. Removed by SAB 103
    2. Amendments to Form 10-Q
      1. Form of Condensed Financial Statements
      2. Reporting requirements for accounting changes
        1. Preferability
        2. Filing of a letter from the accountants
  8. Accounting Series Release 148 -Disclosure Of Compensating Balances And Short-Term Borrowing Arrangements (Adopted November 13, 1973 As Modified By ASR 172 Adopted On June 13, 1975 And ASR 280 Adopted On September 2, 1980)
    1. Applicability
      1. Arrangements with other lending institutions
      2. Bank holding companies and brokerage firms
      3. Financial statements of parent company and unconsolidated subsidiaries
      4. Foreign lenders
    2. Classification of short-term obligations-Debt related to long-term projects
    3. Compensating balances
      1. Compensating balances for future credit availability
      2. Changes in compensating balances
      3. Float
    4. Miscellaneous
      1. Periods required
      2. 10-Q Disclosures
  9. Accounting Series Release 149 -Improved Disclosure Of Income Tax Expense (Adopted November 28, 1973 And Modified By ASR 280 Adopted On September 2, 1980)
    1. Tax rate
    2. Taxes of investee company
    3. Net of tax presentation
    4. Loss years
    5. Foreign registrants
    6. Securities gains and losses
    7. Tax expense components v. “overall” presentation
  10. Removed by SAB 47
  11. Accounting Series Release 302 — Separate Financial Statements Required By Regulation S-X
    1. Removed by SAB 103
    2. Parent company financial information
      1. Computation of restricted net assets of subsidiaries
      2. Application of tests for parent company disclosures
    3. Undistributed earnings of 50% or less owned persons
    4. Application of significant subsidiary test to investees and unconsolidated subsidiaries
      1. Separate financial statement requirements
      2. Summarized financial statement requirements
  12. Financial Reporting Release 28 -Accounting For Loan Losses By Registrants Engaged In Lending Activities
    1. Accounting for loan losses
    2. Developing and documenting a systematic methodology
      1. Developing a systematic methodology
      2. Documenting a systematic methodology
    3. Applying a systematic methodology — measuring and documenting loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10
      1. Measuring and documenting loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10 — general
      2. Measuring and documenting loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10 for a collateral dependent loan
      3. Measuring and documenting loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10 — fully collateralized loans
    4. Applying a systematic methodology — measuring and documenting loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20
      1. Measuring and documenting loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20 — general
      2. Measuring and documenting loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20 — adjusting loss rates
      3. Measuring and documenting loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20 — estimating losses on loans individually reviewed for impairment but not considered individually impaired
    5. Documenting the results of a systematic methodology
      1. Documenting the results of a systematic methodology — general
      2. Documenting the results of a systematic methodology — allowance adjustments
    6. Validating a systematic methodology

A.1. Removed by SAB 103

B. Accounting Series Release 280 -General Revision Of Regulation S-X: Income Or Loss Applicable To Common Stock

Facts: A registrant has various classes of preferred stock. Dividends on those preferred stocks and accretions of their carrying amounts cause income applicable to common stock to be less than reported net income.

Question: In ASR 280, the Commission stated that although it had determined not to mandate presentation of income or loss applicable to common stock in all cases, it believes that disclosure of that amount is of value in certain situations. In what situations should the amount be reported, where should it be reported, and how should it be computed?

Interpretive Response: Income or loss applicable to common stock should be reported on the face of the income statement1 when it is materially different in quantitative terms from reported net income or loss2 or when it is indicative of significant trends or other qualitative considerations. The amount to be reported should be computed for each period as net income or loss less: (a) dividends on preferred stock, including undeclared or unpaid dividends if cumulative; and (b) periodic increases in the carrying amounts of instruments reported as redeemable preferred stock (as discussed in Topic 3.C) or increasing rate preferred stock (as discussed in Topic 5.Q).

C. Accounting Series Release 180 -Institution Of Staff Accounting Bulletins (SABs)-Applicability Of Guidance Contained In SABs

Facts: The series of SABs was instituted to achieve wide dissemination of administrative interpretations and practices of the Commission’s staff. In illustration of certain interpretations and practices, SABs may be written narrowly to describe the circumstances of particular matters which resulted in expression of the staff’s views on those particular matters.

Question: How does the staff intend SABs to be applied in circumstances analogous to those addressed in SABs?

Interpretive Response: The staff’s purpose in issuing SABs is to disseminate guidance for application not only in the narrowly described circumstances, but also, unless authoritative accounting literature calls for different treatment, in other circumstances where events and transactions have similar accounting and/or disclosure implications.

Registrants and independent accountants are encouraged to consult with the staff if they believe that particular circumstances call for accounting and/or disclosure different from that which would result from application of a SAB addressing those same or analogous circumstances.

D. Redesignated as Topic 12.A by SAB 47

E. Redesignated as Topic 12.B by SAB 47

F. Removed by SAB 103

G. Accounting Series Releases 177 and 286—Relating to Amendments to Form 10-Q, Regulation S-K, and Regulations S-X Regarding Interim Financial Reporting

General Facts: Disclosure requirements for quarterly data on Form 10-Q were amended in ASR 177 and 286 to include condensed interim financial statements, a narrative analysis of financial condition and results of operations, a letter from the registrant’s independent public accountant commenting on any accounting change, and a signature by the registrant’s chief financial officer or chief accounting officer.3 In addition, certain selected quarterly data is required to be disclosed by virtually all registrants (see Item 302(a)(5) of Regulation S-K).

1. Selected Quarterly Financial Data (Item 302(a) of Regulation S-K)

a. Disclosure of Selected Quarterly Financial Data

Facts: Item 302(a)(1) of Regulation S-K requires disclosure of net sales, gross profit, income before extraordinary items and cumulative effect of a change in accounting, per share data based upon such income (loss), net income (loss), and net income (loss) attributable to the registrant for each full quarter within the two most recent fiscal years and any subsequent interim period for which financial statements are included. Item 302(a)(3) requires the registrant to describe the effect of any disposals of components of an entity4 and extraordinary, unusual or infrequently occurring items recognized in each quarter, as well as the aggregate effect and the nature of year-end or other adjustments which are material to the results of that quarter. Furthermore, Item 302(a)(2) requires a reconciliation of amounts previously reported on Form 10-Q to the quarterly data presented if the amounts differ.

Question 1: Are these disclosure requirements applicable to supplemental financial statements included in a filing with the SEC for unconsolidated subsidiaries and 50% or less owned persons?

Interpretive Response: The summarized quarterly financial data required by Item 302(a)(1) need not be included in supplemental financial statements for unconsolidated subsidiaries and 50% or less owned persons unless the financial statements are for a subsidiary or affiliate that is itself a registrant which meets the criteria set forth in Item 302(a)(5).

Question 2: If a company is in a specialized industry where “gross profit” generally is not computed (e.g., banks, insurance companies and finance companies), what disclosure should be made to comply with the requirements of Item 302(a)(1)?

Interpretive Response: Companies in specialized industries should present summarized quarterly financial data which are most meaningful in their particular circumstances. For example, a bank might present interest income, interest expense, provision for loan losses, security gains or losses and net income. Similarly, an insurance company might present net premiums earned, underwriting costs and expenses, investment income, security gains or losses and net income.

Question 3: If a company wishes to make its quarterly and annual disclosures on the same basis, would disclosure of costs and expenses associated directly with or allocated to products sold or services rendered, or other appropriate data to enable users to compute “gross profit,” satisfy the requirements of Item 302(a)(1)?

Interpretive Response: Yes.

Question 4: What is meant by “per-share data based upon such income” as used in Item 302(a)(1)?

Interpretive Response: Item 302(a)(1) only requires disclosure of per share amounts for income before extraordinary items and cumulative effect of a change in accounting. It is expected that when per share data is calculated for each full quarter based upon such income, the per share amounts would be both basic and diluted. Although it is not required by the rule, there are many instances where it would be desirable to disclose other per share figures such as net earnings per share and the per share effect of extraordinary items also. Where such disclosure is made, per share data should be both basic and diluted.

Question 5: What is intended by the requirement set forth in Item 302(a)(3) that registrants “describe the effect of” disposals of segments of a business, etc.?

Interpretive Response: The rule uses the language of segments of a business that was previously found in the authoritative literature. Consistent with the terminology used in FASB ASC Subtopic 205-20, Presentation of Financial Statements — Discontinued Operations, as used here, segments of a business is intended to mean components of an entity. The rule is intended to require registrants to “disclose the amount” of such unusual transactions and events included in the results reported for each quarter. Such disclosure would be made in narrative form. However, it would not require that matters covered by MD&A be repeated. In this situation, registrants should disclose the nature and amount of the unusual transaction or event and refer to MD&A for further discussion of the matter.

Question 6: What is intended by the requirement of Item 302(a)(3) to disclose “the aggregate effect and the nature of year-end or other adjustments which are material to the results of that quarter”?

Interpretive Response: This language is taken directly from FASB ASC paragraph 270-10-50-2 (Interim Reporting Topic) which relates to disclosures required for the fourth quarter of the year. FASB ASC Topic 270 indicates that earlier quarters should not be restated to reflect a change in accounting estimate recorded at year end. However, changes in an accounting estimate made in an interim period that materially affect the quarter in which the change occurred are required to be disclosed in order to avoid misleading comparisons. In making such disclosure, registrants may wish to identify (but not restate) the prior periods in which transactions were recorded which relate to the change in the quarter.

Question 7: If company has filed a Form 10-Q/A amending a previously filed Form 10-Q, is a reconciliation of quarterly data in annual financial statements with the amounts originally reported on Form 10-Q required?

Interpretive Response: Yes. However, if the company publishes quarterly reports to shareholders and has previously made detailed disclosure to shareholders in such reports of the change reported on the Form 10-Q/A, no reconciliation would be required.

b. Financial statements presented on other than a quarterly basis

Facts: Item 302(a)(1) requires disclosure of quarterly financial data for each full quarter of the last two fiscal years and in any subsequent interim period for which an income statement is presented.

Question: If a company reports at interim dates on other than a calendar-quarter basis (e.g., 12-12-16-12 week basis), will it be precluded from reporting on such basis in the future?

Interpretive Response: No, as long as it discloses the basis of interim fiscal period reporting and the interim fiscal periods on which it reports are consistently determined from year to year (or, if not, the lack of comparability is disclosed).

c. Removed by SAB 103

2. Amendments to Form 10-Q

a. Form of Condensed Financial Statements

Facts: Rules 10-01(a)(2) and (3) of Regulation S-X provide that interim balance sheets and statements of income shall include only major captions (i.e., numbered captions) set forth in Regulation S-X, with the exception of inventories where data as to raw materials, work in process and finished goods shall be included, if applicable, either on the face of the balance sheet or in notes thereto. Where any major balance sheet caption is less than 10% of total assets and the amount in the caption has not increased or decreased by more than 25% since the end of the preceding fiscal year, the caption may be combined with others. When any major income statement caption is less than 15% of average net income attributable to the registrant for the most recent three fiscal years and the amount in the caption has not increased or decreased by more than 20% as compared to the corresponding interim period of the preceding fiscal year, the caption may be combined with others. Similarly, the statement of cash flows may be abbreviated, starting with a single figure of cash flows provided by operations and showing other changes individually only when they exceed 10% of the average of cash flows provided by operations for the most recent three years.

Question 1: If a company previously combined captions in a Form 10-Q but is required to present such captions separately in the Form 10-Q for the current quarter, must it retroactively reclassify amounts included in the prior-year financial statements presented for comparative purposes to conform with the captions presented for the current-year quarter?

Interpretive Response: Yes.

Question 2: If a company uses the gross profit method or some other method to determine cost of goods sold for interim periods, will it be acceptable to state only that it is not practicable to determine components of inventory at interim periods?

Interpretive Response: The staff believes disclosure of inventory components is important to investors. In reaching this decision, the staff recognizes that registrants may not take inventories during interim periods and that managements, therefore, will have to estimate the inventory components. However, the staff believes that management will be able to make reasonable estimates of inventory components based upon their knowledge of the company’s production cycle, the costs (labor and overhead) associated with this cycle as well as the relative sales and purchasing volume of the company.

Question 3: If a company has years during which operations resulted in a net outflow of cash and cash equivalents, should it exclude such years from the computation of cash and cash equivalents provided by operations for the three most recent years in determining what sources and applications must be shown separately?

Interpretive Response: Yes. Similar to the determination of average net income, if operations resulted in a net outflow of cash and cash equivalents during any year, such amount should be excluded in making the computation of cash flow provided by operations for the three most recent years unless operations resulted in a net outflow of cash and cash equivalents in all three years, in which case the average of the net outflow of cash and cash equivalents should be used for the test.

b. Reporting requirements for accounting changes

1. Preferability

Facts: Rule 10-01(b)(6) of Regulation S-X requires that a registrant who makes a material change in its method of accounting shall indicate the date of and the reason for the change. The registrant also must include as an exhibit in the first Form 10-Q filed subsequent to the date of an accounting change, a letter from the registrant’s independent accountants indicating whether or not the change is to an alternative principle which in his judgment is preferable under the circumstances. A letter from the independent accountant is not required when the change is made in response to a standard adopted by the Financial Accounting Standards Board which requires such a change.

Question 1: For some alternative accounting principles, authoritative bodies have specified when one alternative is preferable to another. However, for other alternative accounting principles, no authoritative body has specified criteria for determining the preferability of one alternative over another. In such situations, how should preferability be determined?

Interpretive Response: In such cases, where objective criteria for determining the preferability among alternative accounting principles have not been established by authoritative bodies, the determination of preferability should be based on the particular circumstances described by and discussed with the registrant. In addition, the independent accountant should consider other significant information of which he is aware.5

Question 2: Management may offer, as justification for a change in accounting principle, circumstances such as: their expectation as to the effect of general economic trends on their business (e.g., the impact of inflation), their expectation regarding expanding consumer demand for the company’s products, or plans for change in marketing methods. Are these circumstances which enter into the determination of preferability?

Interpretive Response: Yes. Those circumstances are examples of business judgment and planning and should be evaluated in determining preferability. In the case of changes for which objective criteria for determining preferability have not been established by authoritative bodies, business judgment and business planning often are major considerations in determining that the change is to a preferable method because the change results in improved financial reporting.

Question 3: What responsibility does the independent accountant have for evaluating the business judgment and business planning of the registrant?

Interpretive Response: Business judgment and business planning are within the province of the registrant. Thus, the independent accountant may accept the registrant’s business judgment and business planning and express reliance thereon in his letter. However, if either the plans or judgment appear to be unreasonable to the independent accountant, he should not accept them as justification. For example, an independent accountant should not accept a registrant’s plans for a major expansion if he believes the registrant does not have the means of obtaining the funds necessary for the expansion program.

Question 4: If a registrant, who has changed to an accounting method which was preferable under the circumstances, later finds that it must abandon its business plans or change its business judgment because of economic or other factors, is the registrant’s justification nullified?

Interpretive Response: No. A registrant must in good faith justify a change in its method of accounting under the circumstances which exist at the time of the change. The existence of different circumstances at a later time does not nullify the previous justification for the change.

Question 5: If a registrant justified a change in accounting method as preferable under the circumstances, and the circumstances change, may the registrant revert to the method of accounting used before the change?

Interpretive Response: Any time a registrant makes a change in accounting method, the change must be justified as preferable under the circumstances. Thus, a registrant may not change back to a principle previously used unless it can justify that the previously used principle is preferable in the circumstances as they currently exist.

Question 6: If one client of an independent accounting firm changes its method of accounting and the accountant submits the required letter stating his view of the preferability of the principle in the circumstances, does this mean that all clients of that firm are constrained from making the converse change in accounting (e.g., if one client changes from FIFO to LIFO, can no other client change from LIFO to FIFO)?

Interpretive Response: No. Each registrant must justify a change in accounting method on the basis that the method is preferable under the circumstances of that registrant. In addition, a registrant must furnish a letter from its independent accountant stating that in the judgment of the independent accountant the change in method is preferable under the circumstances of that registrant. If registrants in apparently similar circumstances make changes in opposite directions, the staff has a responsibility to inquire as to the factors which were considered in arriving at the determination by each registrant and its independent accountant that the change was preferable under the circumstances because it resulted in improved financial reporting. The staff recognizes the importance, in many circumstances, of the judgments and plans of management and recognizes that such management judgments may, in good faith, differ. As indicated above, the concern relates to registrants in apparently similar circumstances, no matter who their independent accountants may be.

Question 7: If a registrant changes its accounting to one of two methods specifically approved by the FASB in the Accounting Standards Codification, need the independent accountant express his view as to the preferability of the method selected?

Interpretive Response: If a registrant was formerly using a method of accounting no longer deemed acceptable, a change to either method approved by the FASB may be presumed to be a change to a preferable method and no letter will be required from the independent accountant. If, however, the registrant was formerly using one of the methods approved by the FASB for current use and wishes to change to an alternative approved method, then the registrant must justify its change as being one to a preferable method in the circumstances and the independent accountant must submit a letter stating that in his view the change is to a principle that is preferable in the circumstances.

2. Filing of a letter from the accountants

Facts: The registrant makes an accounting change in the fourth quarter of its fiscal year. Rule 10-01(b)(6) of Regulation S-X requires that the registrant file a letter from its independent accountants stating whether or not the change is preferable in the circumstances in the next Form 10-Q. Item 601(b)(18) of Regulation S-K provides that the independent accountant’s preferability letter be filed as an exhibit to reports on Forms 10-K or 10-Q.

Question: When the independent accountant’s letter is filed with the Form 10-K, must another letter also be filed with the first quarter’s Form 10-Q in the following year?

Interpretive Response: No. A letter is not required to be filed with Form 10-Q if it has been previously filed as an exhibit to the Form 10-K.

H. Accounting Series Release 148 -Disclosure Of Compensating Balances And Short-Term Borrowing Arrangements (Adopted November 13, 1973 As Modified By ASR 172 Adopted On June 13, 1975 And ASR 280 Adopted On September 2, 1980)

Facts: ASR 148 (as modified) amends Regulation S-X to include:

  1. Disclosure of compensating balance arrangements.
     
  2. Segregation of cash for compensating balance arrangements that are legal restrictions on the availability of cash.

1. Applicability

a. Arrangements with other lending institutions

Question: In addition to banks, is ASR 148 applicable to arrangements with factors, commercial finance companies or other lending entities?

Interpretive Response: Yes.

b. Bank holding companies and brokerage firms

Question: Do the provisions of ASR 148 apply to bank holding companies and to brokerage firms filing under Rule 17a-5?

Interpretive Response: Yes; however, brokerage firms are not expected to meet these requirements when filing Form X-17a-5.

c. Financial statements of parent company and unconsolidated subsidiaries

Question: Are the provisions of ASR 148 applicable to parent company financial statements in addition to consolidated financial statements? To financial statements of unconsolidated subsidiaries?

Interpretive Response: ASR 148 data for consolidated financial statements only will generally be sufficient when a filing includes consolidated and parent company financial statements. Such data are required for each unconsolidated subsidiary or other entity when a filing is required to include complete financial statements of those entities. When the filing includes summarized financial data in a footnote about such entities, the disclosures under ASR 148 relating to the consolidated financial statements will be sufficient.

d. Foreign lenders

Question: Are ASR 148 disclosure requirements applicable to arrangements with foreign lenders?

Interpretive Response: Yes.

2. Classification of short-term obligations-Debt related to long-term projects

Facts: Companies engaging in significant long-term construction programs frequently arrange for revolving cover loans which extend until the completion of long-term construction projects. Such revolving cover loans are typically arranged with substantial financial institutions and typically have the following characteristics:

  1. A firm long-term mortgage commitment is obtained for each project.
     
  2. Interest rates and terms are in line with the company’s normal borrowing arrangements.
     
  3. Amounts are equal to the expected full mortgage amount of all projects.
     
  4. The company may draw down funds at its option up to the maximum amount of the agreement.
     
  5. The company uses short-term interim construction financing (commercial paper, bank loans, etc.) against the revolving cover loan. Such indebtedness is rolled over or drawn down on the revolving cover loan at the company’s option. The company typically has regular bank lines of credit, but these generally are not legally enforceable.

Question: Under FASB ASC Subtopic 470-10, Debt — Overall, will the classification of loans such as described above as long-term be acceptable?

Interpretive Response: Where such conditions exist providing for a firm commitment throughout the construction program as well as a firm commitment for permanent mortgage financing, and where there are no contingencies other than the completion of construction, the guideline criteria are met and the borrowing under such a program should be classified as long-term with appropriate disclosure.

3. Compensating balances

a. Compensating balances for future credit availability

Facts: Rule 5-02.1 of Regulation S-X requires disclosure of compensating balances in order to avoid undisclosed commingling of such balances with other funds having different liquidity characteristics and bearing no determinable relationship to borrowing arrangements. It also requires footnote disclosure distinguishing the amounts of such balances maintained under a formal agreement to assure future credit availability.

Question: In disclosing compensating balances maintained to assure future credit availability, is it necessary to segregate compensating balances for an unused portion of a regular line of credit when a total compensating balance amount covering both used and unused amounts of a line of credit is disclosed?

Interpretive Response: No.

b. Changes in compensating balances

Facts: ASR 148 guidelines indicate the need for additional disclosures where compensating balances were materially greater during the period than at the end of the period.

Question: Does this disclosure relate to changes in the arrangement (e.g., the required compensating balance percentage) or changes in borrowing levels?

Interpretive Response: Both.

c. Float

Facts: ASR 148 states that “compensating balance arrangements . . . are normally expressed in terms of collected bank ledger balances but the financial statements are presented on the basis of the company’s books. In order to make the disclosure of compensating balance amounts . . . consistent with the cash amounts reflected in the financial statements, the balance figure agreed upon by the bank and the company should be adjusted if possible by the estimated float.”

Question: In determining the amount of “float” as suggested by ASR 148 guidelines, frequently an adjustment to the bank balance is required for “uncollected funds.” On what basis should this adjustment be estimated?

Interpretive Response: The adjustment should be estimated based upon the method used by the bank or a reasonable approximation of that method. The following is a sample computation of the amount of compensating balances to be disclosed where uncollected funds are involved.

Assumptions: The company has agreed to maintain compensating balances equal to 20% of short-term borrowings.

Short-term borrowings $10,000,000
Compensating balances per bank balances 2,000,000
Estimated float (approximates the excess of outstanding checks over deposits in transit) 480,000
Estimated uncollected funds 320,000
Computation:  
Compensating balances per bank balances 2,000,000
Estimated uncollected funds 320,000
Estimated float (480,000)
   
Compensating balances stated in terms of a book cash balance and to be disclosed $ 1,840,000

4. Miscellaneous

a. Periods required

Question: For what periods are ASR 148 disclosures required?

Interpretive Response: Disclosure of compensating balance arrangements and other disclosures called for in ASR 148 are required for the latest fiscal year but are generally not required for any later interim period unless a material change has occurred since year end.

b. 10-Q Disclosures

Question: Are ASR 148 disclosures required in 10-Q’s?

Interpretive Response: In general, ASR 148 disclosures are not required in Form 10-Q. However, in some instances material changes in borrowing arrangements or borrowing levels may give rise to the need for disclosure either in Form 10-Q or Form 8-K.

I. Accounting Series Release 149 -Improved Disclosure Of Income Tax Expense (Adopted November 28, 1973 And Modified By ASR 280 Adopted On September 2, 1980)

Facts: ASR 149 and 280 amend Regulation S-X to include:

  1. Disclosure of tax effect of timing differences comprising deferred income tax expense.
     
  2. Disclosure of the components of income tax expense, including currently payable and the net tax effects of timing differences.
     
  3. Disclosure of the components of income [loss] before income tax expense [benefit] as either domestic or foreign.
     
  4. Reconciliation between the statutory Federal income tax rate and the effective tax rate.

1. Tax rate

Question 1: In reconciling to the effective tax rate should the rate used be a combination of state and Federal income tax rates?

Interpretive Response: No, the reconciliation should be made to the Federal income tax rate only.

Question 2: What is the “applicable statutory Federal income tax rate”?

Interpretive Response: The applicable statutory Federal income tax rate is the normal rate applicable to the reporting entity. Hence, the statutory rate for a U.S. partnership is zero. If, for example, the statutory rate for U.S. corporations is 22% on the first $25,000 of taxable income and 46% on the excess over $25,000, the “normalized rate” for corporations would fluctuate in the range between 22% and 46% depending on the amount of pretax accounting income a corporation has.

2. Taxes of investee company

Question: If a registrant records its share of earnings or losses of a 50% or less owned person on the equity basis and such person has an effective tax rate which differs by more than 5% from the applicable statutory Federal income tax rate, is a reconciliation as required by Rule 4-08(g) necessary?

Interpretive Response: Whenever the tax components are known and material to the investor’s (registrant’s) financial position or results of operations, appropriate disclosure should be made. In some instances where 50% or less owned persons are accounted for by the equity method of accounting in the financial statements of the registrant, the registrant may not know the rate at which the various components of income are taxed and it may not be practicable to provide disclosure concerning such components.

It should also be noted that it is generally necessary to disclose the aggregate dollar and per-share effect of situations where temporary tax exemptions or “tax holidays” exist, and that such disclosures are also applicable to 50% or less owned persons. Such disclosures should include a brief description of the factual circumstances and give the date on which the special tax status will terminate. See Topic 11.C.

3. Net of tax presentation

Question: What disclosure is required when an item is reported on a net of tax basis (e.g., extraordinary items, discontinued operations, or cumulative adjustment related to accounting change)?

Interpretive Response: When an item is reported on a net of tax basis, additional disclosure of the nature of the tax component should be provided by reconciling the tax component associated with the item to the applicable statutory Federal income tax rate or rates.

4. Loss years

Question: Is a reconciliation of a tax recovery in a loss year required?

Interpretive Response: Yes, in loss years the actual book tax benefit of the loss should be reconciled to expected normal book tax benefit based on the applicable statutory Federal income tax rate.

5. Foreign registrants

Question 1: Occasionally, reporting foreign persons may not operate under a normal income tax base rate such as the current U.S. Federal corporate income tax rate. What form of disclosure is acceptable in these circumstances?

Interpretive Response: In such instances, reconciliations between year-to-year effective rates or between a weighted average effective rate and the current effective rate of total tax expense may be appropriate in meeting the requirements of Rule 4-08(h)(2). A brief description of how such a rate was determined would be required in addition to other required disclosures. Such an approach would not be acceptable for a U.S. registrant with foreign operations. Foreign registrants with unusual tax situations may find that these guidelines are not fully responsive to their needs. In such instances, registrants should discuss the matter with the staff.

Question 2: Where there are significant reconciling items that relate in significant part to foreign operations as well as domestic operations, is it necessary to disclose the separate amounts of the tax component by geographical area, e.g., statutory depletion allowances provided for by U.S. and by other foreign jurisdictions?

Interpretive Response: It is not practicable to give an all-encompassing answer to this question. However, in many cases such disclosure would seem appropriate.

6. Securities gains and losses

Question: If the tax on the securities gains and losses of banks and insurance companies varies by more than 5% from the applicable statutory Federal income tax rate, should a reconciliation to the statutory rate be provided?

Interpretive Response: Yes.

7. Tax expense components v. “overall” presentation

Facts: Rule 4-08(h) requires that the various components of income tax expense be disclosed, e.g., currently payable domestic taxes, deferred foreign taxes, etc. Frequently income tax expense will be included in more than one caption in the financial statements. For example, income taxes may be allocated to continuing operations, discontinued operations, extraordinary items, cumulative effects of an accounting change and direct charges and credits to shareholders’ equity.

Question: In instances where income tax expense is allocated to more than one caption in the financial statements, must the components of income tax expense included in each caption be disclosed or will an “overall” presentation such as the following be acceptable?

The components of income tax expense are:

Currently payable (per tax return):  
Federal $350,000
Foreign 150,000
State 50,000
Deferred:  
Federal 125,000
Foreign 75,000
State 50,000
  $800,000

Income tax expense is included in the financial statements as follows:

Continuing operations $600,000
Discontinued operations (200,000)
Extraordinary income 300,000
Cumulative effect of change in accounting principle 100,000
  $800,000

Interpretive Response: An overall presentation of the nature described will be acceptable.

J. Removed by SAB 47

K. Accounting Series Release 302 — Separate Financial Statements Required By Regulation S-X

1. Removed by SAB 103

2. Parent company financial information

a. Computation of restricted net assets of subsidiaries

Facts: The revised rules for parent company disclosures adopted in ASR 302 require, in certain circumstances, (1) footnote disclosure in the consolidated financial statements about the nature and amount of significant restrictions on the ability of subsidiaries to transfer funds to the parent through intercompany loans, advances or cash dividends [Rule 4-08(e)(3)], and (2) the presentation of condensed parent company financial information and other data in a schedule (Rule 12-04). To determine which disclosures, if any, are required, a registrant must compute its proportionate share of the net assets of its consolidated and unconsolidated subsidiary companies as of the end of the most recent fiscal year which are restricted as to transfer to the parent company because the consent of a third party (a lender, regulatory agency, foreign government, etc.) is required. If the registrant’s proportionate share of the restricted net assets of consolidated subsidiaries exceeds 25% of the registrant’s consolidated net assets, both the footnote and schedule information are required. If the amount of such restrictions is less than 25%, but the sum of these restrictions plus the amount of the registrant’s proportionate share of restricted net assets of unconsolidated subsidiaries plus the registrant’s equity in the undistributed earnings of 50% or less owned persons (investees) accounted for by the equity method exceed 25% of consolidated net assets, the footnote disclosure is required.

Question 1: How are restricted net assets of subsidiaries computed?

Interpretative Response: The calculation of restricted net assets requires an evaluation of each subsidiary to identify any circumstances where third parties may limit the subsidiary’s ability to loan, advance or dividend funds to the parent. This evaluation normally comprises a review of loan agreements, statutory and regulatory requirements, etc., to determine the dollar amount of each subsidiary’s restrictions. The related amount of the subsidiary’s net assets designated as restricted, however, should not exceed the amount of the subsidiary’s net assets included in consolidated net assets, since parent company disclosures are triggered when a significant amount of consolidated net assets are restricted. The amount of each subsidiary’s net assets included in consolidated net assets is determined by allocating (pushing down) to each subsidiary any related consolidation adjustments such as intercompany balances, intercompany profits, and differences between fair value and historical cost arising from a business combination accounted for as a purchase. This amount is referred to as the subsidiary’s adjusted net assets. If the subsidiary’s adjusted net assets are less than the amount of its restrictions because the push down of consolidating adjustments reduced its net assets, the subsidiary’s adjusted net assets is the amount of the subsidiary’s restricted net assets used in the tests.

Registrants with numerous subsidiaries and investees may wish to develop approaches to facilitate the determination of its parent company disclosure requirements. For example, if the parent company’s adjusted net assets (excluding any interest in its subsidiaries) exceed 75% of consolidated net assets, or if the total of all of the registrant’s consolidated and unconsolidated subsidiaries’ restrictions and its equity in investees’ earnings is less than 25% of consolidated net assets, then the allocation of consolidating adjustments to the subsidiaries to determine the amount of their adjusted net assets would not be necessary since no parent company disclosures would be required.

Question 2: If a registrant makes a decision that it will permanently reinvest the undistributed earnings of a subsidiary, and thus does not provide for income taxes thereon because it meets the criteria set forth in FASB ASC Subtopic 740-30, Income Taxes — Other Considerations or Special Areas, is there considered to be a restriction for purposes of the test?

Interpretive Response: No. The rules require that only third party restrictions be considered. Restrictions on subsidiary net assets imposed by management are not included.

b. Application of tests for parent company disclosures

Facts: The balance sheet of the registrant’s 100%-owned subsidiary at the most recent fiscal year-end is summarized as follows:

Current assets $120 Current liabilities $ 30
Noncurrent assets 45 Long-term debt 60
      90
    Common stock 25
    Retained earnings 50
      75
  $165   $165

Net assets of the subsidiary are $75. Assume there are no consolidating adjustments to be allocated to the subsidiary. Restrictive covenants of the subsidiary’s debt agreements provide that:

  • Net assets, excluding intercompany loans, cannot be less than $35
     
  • 60% of accumulated earnings must be maintained

Question 1: What is the amount of the subsidiary’s restricted net assets?

Interpretive Response:

Restriction Computed Restrictions
Net assets: currently $75, cannot be less than $35; therefore $35
Dividends: 60% of accumulated earnings ($50) cannot be paid out; therefore $30

Restricted net assets for purposes of the test are $35. The maximum amount that can be loaned or advanced to the parent without violating the net asset covenant is $40 ($75 - 35). Alternatively, the subsidiary could pay a dividend of up to $20 ($50 - 30) without violating the dividend covenant, and loan or advance up to $20, without violating the net asset provision.

Facts: The registrant has one 100%-owned subsidiary. The balance sheet of the subsidiary at the latest fiscal year-end is summarized as follows:

Current assets $ 75 Current liabilities $ 23
Noncurrent assets 90 Long-term debt 57
    Redeemable preferred stock 10
    Common stock 30
    Retained earnings 45
      75
  $165   $165

Assume that the registrant’s consolidated net assets are $130 and there are no consolidating adjustments to be allocated to the subsidiary. The subsidiary’s net assets are $75. The subsidiary’s noncurrent assets are comprised of $40 in operating plant and equipment used in the subsidiary’s business and a $50 investment in a 30% investee. The subsidiary’s equity in this investee’s undistributed earnings is $18. Restrictive covenants of the subsidiary’s debt agreements are as follows:

  1. Net assets, excluding intercompany balances, cannot be less than $20.
     
  2. 80% of accumulated earnings must be reinvested in the subsidiary.
     
  3. Current ratio of 2:1 must be maintained.

Question 2: Are parent company footnote or schedule disclosures required?

Interpretive Response: Only the parent company footnote disclosures are required. The subsidiary’s restricted net assets are computed as follows:

Restriction Computed Restriction
Net assets: currently $75, cannot be less than $20; therefore $20
Dividends: 80% of accumulated earnings ($45) cannot be paid; therefore $36
Current ratio: must be at least 2:1 ($46 current assets must be maintained since current liabilities are $23 at fiscal year-end); therefore $46

Restricted net assets for purposes of the test are $20. The amount computed from the dividend restriction ($36) and the current ratio requirement ($46) are not used because net assets may be transferred by the subsidiary up to the limitation imposed by the requirement to maintain net assets of at least $20, without violating the other restrictions. For example, a transfer to the parent of up to $55 of net assets could be accomplished by a combination of dividends of current assets of $9 ($45-36), and loans or advances of current assets of up to $20 and noncurrent assets of up to $26.

Parent company footnote disclosures are required in this example since the restricted net assets of the subsidiary and the registrant’s equity in the earnings of its 100%-owned subsidiary’s investee exceed 25% of consolidated net assets [($20 + 18)/$130 = 29%]. The parent company schedule information is not required since the restricted net assets of the subsidiary are only 15% of consolidated net assets ($20/$130 = 15%).

Although the subsidiary’s noncurrent assets are not in a form which is readily transferable to the parent company, the illiquid nature of the assets is not relevant for purposes of the parent company tests. The objective of the tests is to require parent company disclosures when the parent company does not have control of its subsidiaries’ funds because it does not have unrestricted access to their net assets. The tests trigger parent company disclosures only when there are significant third party restrictions on transfers by subsidiaries of net assets and the subsidiaries’ net assets comprise a significant portion of consolidated net assets. Practical limitations, other than third party restrictions on transferability at the measurement date (most recent fiscal year-end), such as subsidiary illiquidity, are not considered in computing restricted net assets. However, the potential effect of any limitations other than those imposed by third parties should be considered for inclusion in Management’s Discussion and Analysis of liquidity.

Facts:

  Net assets
Subsidiary A $ (500)
Subsidiary B $2,000
Consolidated $3,700

Subsidiaries A and B are 100% owned by the registrant. Assume there are no consolidating adjustments to be allocated to the subsidiaries. Subsidiary A has restrictions amounting to $200. Subsidiary B’s restrictions are $1,000.

Question 3: What parent company disclosures are required for the registrant?

Interpretive Response: Since subsidiary A has an excess of liabilities over assets, it has no restricted net assets for purposes of the test. However, both parent company footnote and schedule disclosures are required, since the restricted net assets of subsidiary B exceed 25% of consolidated net assets ($1,000/3,700 = 27%).

Facts:

  Net assets
Subsidiary A $ 850
Subsidiary B $ 300
Consolidated $3,700

The registrant owns 80% of subsidiary A. Subsidiary A owns 100% of subsidiary B. Assume there are no consolidating adjustments to be allocated to the subsidiaries. A may not pay any dividends or make any affiliate loans or advances. B has no restrictions. A’s net assets of $850 do not include its investment in B.

Question 4: Are parent company footnote or schedule disclosures required for this registrant?

Interpretive Response: No. All of the registrant’s share of subsidiary A’s net assets ($680) are restricted. Although B may pay dividends and loan or advance funds to A, the parent’s access to B’s funds through A is restricted. However, since there are no limitations on B’s ability to loan or advance funds to the parent, none of the parent’s share of B’s net assets are restricted. Since A’s restricted net assets are less than 25% of consolidated net assets ($680/3700 = 18%), no parent company disclosures are required.

Facts: The consolidating balance sheet of the registrant at the latest fiscal year-end is summarized as follows:

  Registrant Subsidiary Consolidating Adjustments Consolidated
Current assets $ 800 $ 700 $ 0 $1,500
30% investment in affiliate 175 0 0 175
Investment in subsidiary 350 0 (350) 0
Other noncurrent assets 625 300 (100) 825
  $1,950 $1,000 $ (450) $2,500
Current liabilities $ 600 $ 400 $ 0 $1,000
Concurrent liabilities 375 150 0 525
Redeemable preferred stock 275 0 0 275
Common stock 110 1 (1) 110
Paid-in capital 290 49 (49) 290
Retained earnings 300 400 (400) 300
  700 450 (450) 700
  $1,950 $1,000 $ (450) $2,500

The acquisition of the 100%-owned subsidiary was consummated on the last day of the most recent fiscal year. Immediately preceding the acquisition, the registrant had net assets of $700, which included its equity in the undistributed earnings of its 30% investee of $75. Immediately after acquiring the subsidiary’s net assets, which had an historical cost of $450 and a fair value of $350, the registrant’s net assets were still $700 since debt and preferred stock totaling $350 were issued in the purchase. The subsidiary has debt covenants which permit dividends, loans or advances, to the extent, if any, that net assets exceed an amount which is determined by the sum of $100 plus 75% of the subsidiary’s accumulated earnings.

Question 5: What is the amount of the subsidiary’s restricted net assets? Are parent company footnote or schedule disclosures required?

Interpretive Response: Restricted net assets for purposes of the test are $350, and both the parent company footnote and schedule disclosures are required.

The amount of the subsidiary’s restrictions at year-end is $400 [$100 + (75% x $400)]. The subsidiary’s adjusted net assets after the push down of the consolidation entry to the subsidiary to record the noncurrent assets acquired at their fair value is $350 ($450 - $100). Since the subsidiary’s adjusted net assets ($350) are less than the amount of its restrictions ($400), restricted net assets are $350. The computed percentages applicable to each of the disclosure tests is in excess of 25%. Therefore, both parent company footnote and schedule information are required. The percentage applicable to the footnote disclosure test is 61% [($75 + 350)/$700]. The computed percentage for the schedule disclosure is 50% ($350/$700).

3. Undistributed earnings of 50% or less owned persons

Facts: Rule 4-08(e)(2) of Regulation SX requires footnote disclosures of the amount of consolidated retained earnings which represents undistributed earnings of 50% or less owned persons (investee) accounted for by the equity method. The test adopted in ASR 302 to trigger disclosures about the registrant’s restricted net assets (Rule 4-08(e)(3)) includes the parent’s equity in the undistributed earnings of investees.

Question: Is the amount required for footnote disclosure the same as the amount included in the test to determine disclosures about restrictions?

Interpretive Response: Yes. The amount used in the test in Rule 4-08(e)(3) should be the same as the amount required to be disclosed by Rule 4-08(e)(2). This is the portion of the registrant’s consolidated retained earnings which represents the undistributed earnings of an investee since the date(s) of acquisition. It is computed by determining the registrant’s cumulative equity in the investee’s earnings, adjusted by any dividends received, related goodwill write-downs, and any related income taxes provided.

4. Application of significant subsidiary test to investees and unconsolidated subsidiaries

a. Separate financial statement requirements

Facts: Rule 3-09 of Regulation SX requires the presentation of separate financial statements of unconsolidated subsidiaries and of 50% or less owned persons (investee) accounted for by the equity method either by the registrant or by a subsidiary of the registrant in filings with the Commission if any of the tests of a significant subsidiary are met at a 20% level.

Question 1: Are the requirements for separate financial statements also applicable to an investee accounted for by the equity method by an investee of the registrant?

Interpretive Response: Yes. Rule 3-09 is intended to apply to all investees which are material to the financial position or results of operations of the registrant, regardless of whether the investee is held by the registrant, a subsidiary or another investee. Separate financial statements should be provided for any lower tier investee where such an entity is significant to the registrant’s consolidated financial statements.

Question 2: How is the significant subsidiary test applied to the lower tier investee in the situation described in Question 1?

Interpretive Response: Since the disclosures provided by separate financial statements of an investee are considered necessary to evaluate the overall financial condition of the registrant, the significant subsidiary test is computed based on the materiality of the lower tier investee to the registrant consolidated. An example of the application of the assets test of the significant subsidiary rules to such an investee situation will illustrate the materiality measurement. A registrant with total consolidated assets of $5,000 owns 50% of Investee A, whose total assets are $3,800. Investee A has a 45% investment in Investee B, whose total assets are $4,800. There are no intercompany eliminations. Separate financial statements are required for Investee A, and they are required for Investee B because the registrant’s share of B’s total assets exceeds 20% of consolidated assets [(50% x 45% x $4800)/$5000 = 22%].

b. Summarized financial statement requirements

Facts: Rule 4-08(g) of Regulation S-X requires summarized financial information about unconsolidated subsidiaries and 50% or less owned persons (investee) to be included in the footnotes to the financial statements if, in the aggregate, they meet the tests of a significant subsidiary set forth in Rule 1-02(w).

Question 1: Must a registrant which includes separate financial statements or condensed financial statements for unconsolidated subsidiaries or investees in its annual report to shareholders also include in such report the summarized financial information for these entities pursuant to Rule 4-08(g)?

Interpretive Response: No. The purpose of the summarized information is to provide minimum standards of disclosure when the impact of such entities on the consolidated financial statements is significant. If the registrant furnishes more information in the annual report than is required by these minimum disclosure standards, such as condensed financial information or separate audited financial statements, the summarized data can be excluded. The Commission’s rules are not intended to conflict with the provisions of FASB ASC subparagraph 323-10-50-3(c) (Investments — Equity Method and Joint Ventures Topic), which provide that either separate financial statements of investees be presented with the financial statements of the reporting entity or that summarized information be included in the reporting entity’s financial statement footnotes.

Question 2: Can summarized information be omitted for individual entities as long as the aggregate information for the omitted entity(s) does not exceed 10% under any of the significance tests of Rule 1-02(w)?

Interpretive Response: The 10% measurement level of the significant subsidiary rule was not intended to establish a materiality criteria for omission, and the arbitrary exclusion of summarized information for selected entities up to a 10% level is not appropriate. Rule 4-08(g) requires that the summarized information be included for all unconsolidated subsidiaries and investees. However, the staff recognizes that exclusion of the summarized information for certain entities is appropriate in some circumstances where it is impracticable to accumulate such information and the summarized information to be excluded is de minimis.

L. Financial Reporting Release 28 -Accounting For Loan Losses By Registrants Engaged In Lending Activities

1. Accounting for loan losses

General: GAAP for recognition of loan losses is provided by FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20, Contingencies — Loss Contingencies, and FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10, Receivables - Overall.6 An estimated loss from a loss contingency, such as the collectibility of receivables, should be accrued when, based on information available prior to the issuance of the financial statements, it is probable that an asset has been impaired or a liability has been incurred at the date of the financial statements and the amount of the loss can be reasonably estimated.7 FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10 provides more specific guidance on measurement of loan impairment and related disclosures but does not change the fundamental recognition criteria for loan losses provided by FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20.

Further guidance for SEC registrants is provided by FRR 28, which added subsection (b), Procedural Discipline in Determining the Allowance and Provision for Loan Losses to be Reported, of Section 401.09, Accounting for Loan Losses by Registrants Engaged in Lending Activities, to the Codification of Financial Reporting Policies (hereafter referred to as FRR 28). Additionally, public companies are required to comply with the books and records provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act). Under Sections 13(b)(2) - (7) of the Exchange Act, registrants must make and keep books, records, and accounts, which, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of assets of the registrant. Registrants also must maintain internal accounting controls that are sufficient to provide reasonable assurances that, among other things, transactions are recorded as necessary to permit the preparation of financial statements in conformity with GAAP.

This staff interpretation applies to all registrants that are creditors in loan transactions that, individually or in the aggregate, have a material effect on the registrant’s financial statements.8

2. Developing and documenting a systematic methodology

a. Developing a systematic methodology

Facts: Registrant A, or one of its consolidated subsidiaries, engages in lending activities and is developing or performing a review of its loan loss allowance methodology.

Question: What are some of the factors or elements that the staff normally would expect Registrant A to consider when developing (or subsequently performing an assessment of) its methodology for determining its loan loss allowance under GAAP?

Interpretive Response: The staff normally would expect a registrant that engages in lending activities to develop and document a systematic methodology9 to determine its provision for loan losses and allowance for loan losses as of each financial reporting date. It is critical that loan loss allowance methodologies incorporate management’s current judgments about the credit quality of the loan portfolio through a disciplined and consistently applied process. A registrant’s loan loss allowance methodology is influenced by entity-specific factors, such as an entity’s size, organizational structure, business environment and strategy, management style, loan portfolio characteristics, loan administration procedures, and management information systems.

However, as indicated in the AICPA Audit and Accounting Guide, Depository and Lending Institutions with Conforming Changes as of June 1, 2009 (Audit Guide), while different institutions may use different methods, there are certain common elements that should be included in any [loan loss allowance] methodology for it to be effective.10 A registrant’s loan loss allowance methodology generally should:11

  • Include a detailed analysis of the loan portfolio, performed on a regular basis;
     
  • Consider all loans (whether on an individual or group basis);
     
  • Identify loans to be evaluated for impairment on an individual basis under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10 and segment the remainder of the portfolio into groups of loans with similar risk characteristics for evaluation and analysis under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20;
     
  • Consider all known relevant internal and external factors that may affect loan collectibility;
     
  • Be applied consistently but, when appropriate, be modified for new factors affecting collectibility;
     
  • Consider the particular risks inherent in different kinds of lending;
     
  • Consider current collateral values (less costs to sell), where applicable;
     
  • Require that analyses, estimates, reviews and other loan loss allowance methodology functions be performed by competent and well-trained personnel;
     
  • Be based on current and reliable data;
     
  • Be well documented, in writing, with clear explanations of the supporting analyses and rationale (see Question 2 below for staff views on documenting a loan loss allowance methodology); and
     
  • Include a systematic and logical method to consolidate the loss estimates and ensure the loan loss allowance balance is recorded in accordance with GAAP.

For many entities engaged in lending activities, the allowance and provision for loan losses are significant elements of the financial statements.

Therefore, the staff believes it is appropriate for an entity’s management to review, on a periodic basis, its methodology for determining its allowance for loan losses.12 Additionally, for registrants that have audit committees, the staff believes that oversight of the financial reporting and auditing of the loan loss allowance by the audit committee can strengthen the registrant’s control system and process for determining its allowance for loan losses.13

A systematic methodology that is properly designed and implemented should result in a registrant’s best estimate of its allowance for loan losses.14 Accordingly, the staff normally would expect registrants to adjust their loan loss allowance balance, either upward or downward, in each period for differences between the results of the systematic determination process and the unadjusted loan loss allowance balance in the general ledger.15

b. Documenting a systematic methodology

Question 1: Assume the same facts as in Question 1. What would the staff normally expect Registrant A to include in its documentation of its loan loss allowance methodology?

Interpretive Response: In FRR 28, the Commission provided guidance for documentation of loan loss provisions and allowances for registrants engaged in lending activities. The staff believes that appropriate written supporting documentation for the loan loss provision and allowance facilitates review of the loan loss allowance process and reported amounts, builds discipline and consistency into the loan loss allowance determination process, and improves the process for estimating loan losses by helping to ensure that all relevant factors are appropriately considered in the allowance analysis.

The staff, therefore, normally would expect a registrant to document the relationship between the findings of its detailed review of the loan portfolio and the amount of the loan loss allowance and the provision for loan losses reported in each period.16

The staff normally would expect to find that registrants maintain written supporting documentation for the following decisions, strategies, and processes:17

  • Policies and procedures:
     
    • Over the systems and controls that maintain an appropriate loan loss allowance, and
       
    • Over the loan loss allowance methodology;
       
  • Loan grading system or process;
     
  • Summary or consolidation of the loan loss allowance balance;
     
  • Validation of the loan loss allowance methodology; and
     
  • Periodic adjustments to the loan loss allowance process.

Question 2: The Interpretive Response to Question 2 indicates that the staff normally would expect to find that registrants maintain written supporting documentation for their loan loss allowance policies and procedures. In the staff’s view, what aspects of a registrant’s loan loss allowance internal accounting control systems and processes would appropriately be addressed in its written policies and procedures?

Interpretive Response: The staff is aware that registrants utilize a wide range of policies, procedures, and control systems in their loan loss allowance processes, and these policies, procedures, and systems are tailored to the size and complexity of the registrant and its loan portfolio. However, the staff believes that, in order for a registrant’s loan loss allowance methodology to be effective, the registrant’s written policies and procedures for the systems and controls that maintain an appropriate loan loss allowance would likely address the following:

  • The roles and responsibilities of the registrant’s departments and personnel (including the lending function, credit review, financial reporting, internal audit, senior management, audit committee, board of directors, and others, as applicable) who determine or review, as applicable, the loan loss allowance to be reported in the financial statements;18
     
  • The registrant’s accounting policies for loans and loan losses, including the policies for charge-offs and recoveries and for estimating the fair value of collateral, where applicable;19
     
  • The description of the registrant’s systematic methodology, which should be consistent with the registrant’s accounting policies for determining its loan loss allowance (see Question 4 below for further discussion);20 and
     
  • The system of internal controls used to ensure that the loan loss allowance process is maintained in accordance with GAAP.21

The staff normally would expect an internal control system22 for the loan loss allowance estimation process to:

  • Include measures to provide assurance regarding the reliability23 and integrity of information and compliance with laws, regulations, and internal policies and procedures;24
     
  • Reasonably assure that the registrant’s financial statements are prepared in accordance with GAAP; and
     
  • Include a well-defined loan review process.25

A well-defined loan review process26 typically contains:

  • An effective loan grading system that is consistently applied, identifies differing risk characteristics and loan quality problems accurately and in a timely manner, and prompts appropriate administrative actions;27
     
  • Sufficient internal controls to ensure that all relevant loan review information is appropriately considered in estimating losses. This includes maintaining appropriate reports, details of reviews performed, and identification of personnel involved;28 and
     
  • Clear formal communication and coordination between a registrant’s credit administration function, financial reporting group, management, board of directors, and others who are involved in the loan loss allowance determination or review process, as applicable (e.g., written policies and procedures, management reports, audit programs, and committee minutes).29

Question 3: The Interpretive Response to Question 3 indicates that the staff normally would expect a registrant’s written loan loss allowance policies and procedures to include a description of the registrant’s systematic allowance methodology, which should be consistent with its accounting policies for determining its loan loss allowance. What elements of a registrant’s loan loss allowance methodology would the staff normally expect to be described in the registrant’s written policies and procedures?

Interpretive Response: The staff normally would expect a registrant’s written policies and procedures to describe the primary elements of its loan loss allowance methodology, including portfolio segmentation and impairment measurement. The staff normally would expect that, in order for a registrant’s loan loss allowance methodology to be effective, the registrant’s written policies and procedures would describe the methodology:

  • For segmenting the portfolio:
     
    • How the segmentation process is performed (i.e., by loan type, industry, risk rates, etc.);30
       
    • When a loan grading system is used to segment the portfolio:
       
      • The definitions of each loan grade;
         
      • A reconciliation of the internal loan grades to supervisory loan grades, if applicable; and
         
      • The delineation of responsibilities for the loan grading system.
         
  • For determining and measuring impairment under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10:31
     
    • The methods used to identify loans to be analyzed individually;
       
    • For individually reviewed loans that are impaired, how the amount of any impairment is determined and measured, including:
       
      • Procedures describing the impairment measurement techniques available; and
         
      • Steps performed to determine which technique is most appropriate in a given situation.
         
    • The methods used to determine whether and how loans individually evaluated under FASB Subtopic 310-10, but not considered to be individually impaired, should be grouped with other loans that share common characteristics for impairment evaluation under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20.32
       
  • For determining and measuring impairment under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20:33
     
    • How loans with similar characteristics are grouped to be evaluated for loan collectibility (such as loan type, past-due status, and risk);
       
    • How loss rates are determined (e.g., historical loss rates adjusted for environmental factors or migration analysis) and what factors are considered when establishing appropriate time frames over which to evaluate loss experience; and
       
    • Descriptions of qualitative factors (e.g., industry, geographical, economic, and political factors) that may affect loss rates or other loss measurements.

3. Applying a systematic methodology — measuring and documenting loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10

a. Measuring and documenting loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10 — general

Facts: Approximately one-third of Registrant B’s commercial loan portfolio consists of large balance, non-homogeneous loans. Due to their large individual balances, these loans meet the criteria under Registrant B’s policies and procedures for individual review for impairment under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10.

Upon review of the large balance loans, Registrant B determines that certain of the loans are impaired as defined by FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10.34

Question: For the commercial loans reviewed under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10 that are individually impaired, how would the staff normally expect Registrant B to measure and document the impairment on those loans? Can it use an impairment measurement method other than the methods allowed by FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10?

Interpretive Response: For those loans that are reviewed individually under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10 and considered individually impaired, Registrant B must use one of the methods for measuring impairment that is specified by FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10 (that is, the present value of expected future cash flows, the loan’s observable market price, or the fair value of collateral).35 Accordingly, in the circumstances described above, for the loans considered individually impaired under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10, it would not be appropriate for Registrant B to choose a measurement method not prescribed by FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10. For example, it would not be appropriate to measure loan impairment by applying a loss rate to each loan based on the average historical loss percentage for all of its commercial loans for the past five years.

The staff normally would expect Registrant B to maintain as sufficient, objective evidence36 written documentation to support its measurement of loan impairment under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10.37 If Registrant B uses the present value of expected future cash flows to measure impairment of a loan, it should document the amount and timing of cash flows, the effective interest rate used to discount the cash flows, and the basis for the determination of cash flows, including consideration of current environmental factors38 and other information reflecting past events and current conditions. If Registrant B uses the fair value of collateral to measure impairment, the staff normally would expect to find that Registrant B had documented how it determined the fair value, including the use of appraisals, valuation assumptions and calculations, the supporting rationale for adjustments to appraised values, if any, and the determination of costs to sell, if applicable, appraisal quality, and the expertise and independence of the appraiser.39 Similarly, the staff normally would expect to find that Registrant B had documented the amount, source, and date of the observable market price of a loan, if that method of measuring loan impairment is used.

b. Measuring and documenting loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10 for a collateral dependent loan

Facts: Registrant C has a $10 million loan outstanding to Company X that is secured by real estate, which Registrant C individually evaluates under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10 due to the loan’s size. Company X is delinquent in its loan payments under the terms of the loan agreement. Accordingly, Registrant C determines that its loan to Company X is impaired, as defined by FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10. Because the loan is collateral dependent, Registrant C measures impairment of the loan based on the fair value of the collateral. Registrant C determines that the most recent valuation of the collateral was performed by an appraiser eighteen months ago and, at that time, the estimated value of the collateral (fair value less costs to sell) was $12 million.

Registrant C believes that certain of the assumptions that were used to value the collateral eighteen months ago do not reflect current market conditions and, therefore, the appraiser’s valuation does not approximate current fair value of the collateral.

Several buildings, which are comparable to the real estate collateral, were recently completed in the area, increasing vacancy rates, decreasing lease rates, and attracting several tenants away from the borrower. Accordingly, credit review personnel at Registrant C adjust certain of the valuation assumptions to better reflect the current market conditions as they relate to the loan’s collateral.40 After adjusting the collateral valuation assumptions, the credit review department determines that the current estimated fair value of the collateral, less costs to sell, is $8 million.41 Given that the recorded investment in the loan is $10 million, Registrant C concludes that the loan is impaired by $2 million and records an allowance for loan losses of $2 million.

Question: What documentation would the staff normally expect Registrant C to maintain to support its determination of the allowance for loan losses of $2 million for the loan to Company X?

Interpretive Response: The staff normally would expect Registrant C to document that it measured impairment of the loan to Company X by using the fair value of the loan’s collateral, less costs to sell, which it estimated to be $8 million.42 This documentation43 should include the registrant’s rationale and basis for the $8 million valuation, including the revised valuation assumptions it used, the valuation calculation, and the determination of costs to sell, if applicable.

Because Registrant C arrived at the valuation of $8 million by modifying an earlier appraisal, it should document its rationale and basis for the changes it made to the valuation assumptions that resulted in the collateral value declining from $12 million eighteen months ago to $8 million in the current period.

c. Measuring and documenting loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10 — fully collateralized loans

Question: In the staff’s view, what is an example of an acceptable documentation practice for a registrant to adequately support its determination that no allowance for loan losses should be recorded for a group of loans because the loans are fully collateralized?

Interpretive Response: Consider the following fact pattern: Registrant D has $10 million in loans that are fully collateralized by highly rated debt securities with readily determinable market values. The loan agreement for each of these loans requires the borrower to provide qualifying collateral sufficient to maintain a loan-to-value ratio with sufficient margin to absorb volatility in the securities’ market prices. Registrant D’s collateral department has physical control of the debt securities through safekeeping arrangements. In addition, Registrant D perfected its security interest in the collateral when the funds were originally distributed. On a quarterly basis, Registrant D’s credit administration function determines the market value of the collateral for each loan using two independent market quotes and compares the collateral value to the loan carrying value. If there are any collateral deficiencies, Registrant D notifies the borrower and requests that the borrower immediately remedy the deficiency. Due in part to its efficient operation, Registrant D has historically not incurred any material losses on these loans. Registrant D believes these loans are fully-collateralized and therefore does not maintain any loan loss allowance balance for these loans.

Registrant D’s management summary of the loan loss allowance includes documentation indicating that, in accordance with its loan loss allowance policy, the collateral protection on these loans has been verified by the registrant, no probable loss has been incurred, and no loan loss allowance is necessary.

Documentation in Registrant D’s loan files includes the two independent market quotes obtained each quarter for each loan’s collateral amount, the documents evidencing the perfection of the security interest in the collateral, and other relevant supporting documents. Additionally, Registrant D’s loan loss allowance policy includes a discussion of how to determine when a loan is considered “fully collateralized” and does not require a loan loss allowance. Registrant D’s policy requires the following factors to be considered and its findings concerning these factors to be fully documented:

  • Volatility of the market value of the collateral;
     
  • Recency and reliability of the appraisal or other valuation;
     
  • Recency of the registrant’s or third party’s inspection of the collateral;
     
  • Historical losses on similar loans;
     
    • Confidence in the registrant’s lien or security position including appropriate:
       
    • Type of security perfection (e.g., physical possession of collateral or secured filing);
       
    • Filing of security perfection (i.e., correct documents and with the appropriate officials); and
       
    • Relationship to other liens; and
       
  • Other factors as appropriate for the loan type.

In the staff’s view, Registrant D’s documentation supporting its determination that certain of its loans are fully collateralized, and no loan loss allowance should be recorded for those loans, is acceptable under FRR 28.

4. Applying a systematic methodology — measuring and documenting loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20

a. Measuring and documenting loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20 — general

Question 1: In the staff’s view, what are some general considerations for a registrant in applying its systematic methodology to measure and document loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20?

Interpretive Response: For loans evaluated on a group basis under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20, the staff believes that a registrant should segment the loan portfolio by identifying risk characteristics that are common to groups of loans.44 Registrants typically decide how to segment their loan portfolios based on many factors, which vary with their business strategies as well as their information system capabilities. Regardless of the segmentation method used, the staff normally would expect a registrant to maintain documentation to support its conclusion that the loans in each segment have similar attributes or characteristics. As economic and other business conditions change, registrants often modify their business strategies, which may result in adjustments to the way in which they segment their loan portfolio for purposes of estimating loan losses. The staff normally would expect registrants to maintain documentation to support these segmentation adjustments.45

Based on the segmentation of the loan portfolio, a registrant should estimate the FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20 portion of its loan loss allowance. For those segments that require an allowance for loan losses,46 the registrant should estimate the loan losses, on at least a quarterly basis, based upon its ongoing loan review process and analysis of loan performance.47 The registrant should follow a systematic and consistently applied approach to select the most appropriate loss measurement methods and support its conclusions and rationale with written documentation.48

Facts: After identifying certain loans for evaluation under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10, Registrant E segments its remaining loan portfolio into five pools of loans. For three of the pools, it measures loan impairment under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20 by applying historical loss rates, adjusted for relevant environmental factors, to the pools’ aggregate loan balances. For the remaining two pools of loans, Registrant E uses a loss estimation model that is consistent with GAAP to measure loan impairment under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20.

Question 2: What documentation would the staff normally expect Registrant E to prepare to support its loan loss allowance for its pools of loans under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20?

Interpretive Response: Regardless of the method used to determine loan loss measurements under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20, Registrant E should demonstrate and document that the loss measurement methods used to estimate the loan loss allowance for each segment of its loan portfolio are determined in accordance with GAAP as of the financial statement date.49

As indicated for Registrant E, one method of estimating loan losses for groups of loans is through the application of loss rates to the groups’ aggregate loan balances. Such loss rates typically reflect the registrant’s historical loan loss experience for each group of loans, adjusted for relevant environmental factors (e.g., industry, geographical, economic, and political factors) over a defined period of time. If a registrant does not have loss experience of its own, it may be appropriate to reference the loss experience of other companies in the same business, provided that the registrant demonstrates that the attributes of the loans in its portfolio segment are similar to those of the loans included in the portfolio of the registrant providing the loss experience.50 Registrants should maintain supporting documentation for the technique used to develop their loss rates, including the period of time over which the losses were incurred. If a range of loss is determined, registrants should maintain documentation to support the identified range and the rationale used for determining which estimate is the best estimate within the range of loan losses.51

The staff normally would expect that, before employing a loss estimation model, a registrant would evaluate and modify, as needed, the model’s assumptions to ensure that the resulting loss estimate is consistent with GAAP. In order to demonstrate consistency with GAAP, registrants that use loss estimation models should typically document the evaluation, the conclusions regarding the appropriateness of estimating loan losses with a model or other loss estimation tool, and the objective support for adjustments to the model or its results.52

In developing loss measurements, registrants should consider the impact of current environmental factors and then document which factors were used in the analysis and how those factors affected the loss measurements. Factors that should be considered in developing loss measurements include the following:53

  • Levels of and trends in delinquencies and impaired loans;
     
  • Levels of and trends in charge-offs and recoveries;
     
  • Trends in volume and terms of loans;
     
  • Effects of any changes in risk selection and underwriting standards, and other changes in lending policies, procedures, and practices;
     
  • Experience, ability, and depth of lending management and other relevant staff;
     
  • National and local economic trends and conditions;
     
  • Industry conditions; and
     
  • Effects of changes in credit concentrations.

For any adjustment of loss measurements for environmental factors, a registrant should maintain sufficient, objective evidence54 (a) to support the amount of the adjustment and (b) to explain why the adjustment is necessary to reflect current information, events, circumstances, and conditions in the loss measurements.

b. Measuring and documenting loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20 — adjusting loss rates

Facts: Registrant F’s lending area includes a metropolitan area that is financially dependent upon the profitability of a number of manufacturing businesses. These businesses use highly specialized equipment and significant quantities of rare metals in the manufacturing process. Due to increased low-cost foreign competition, several of the parts suppliers servicing these manufacturing firms declared bankruptcy. The foreign suppliers have subsequently increased prices and the manufacturing firms have suffered from increased equipment maintenance costs and smaller profit margins.

Additionally, the cost of the rare metals used in the manufacturing process increased and has now stabilized at double last year’s price. Due to these events, the manufacturing businesses are experiencing financial difficulties and have recently announced downsizing plans.

Although Registrant F has yet to confirm an increase in its loss experience as a result of these events, management knows that it lends to a significant number of businesses and individuals whose repayment ability depends upon the long-term viability of the manufacturing businesses. Registrant F’s management has identified particular segments of its commercial and consumer customer bases that include borrowers highly dependent upon sales or salary from the manufacturing businesses. Registrant F’s management performs an analysis of the affected portfolio segments to adjust its historical loss rates used to determine the loan loss allowance. In this particular case, Registrant F has experienced similar business and lending conditions in the past that it can compare to current conditions.

Question: How would the staff normally expect Registrant F to document its support for the loss rate adjustments that result from considering these manufacturing firms’ financial downturns?55

Interpretive Response: The staff normally would expect Registrant F to document its identification of the particular segments of its commercial and consumer loan portfolio for which it is probable that the manufacturing business’ financial downturn has resulted in loan losses. In addition, the staff normally would expect Registrant F to document its analysis that resulted in the adjustments to the loss rates for the affected portfolio segments.56 The staff normally would expect that, as part of its documentation, Registrant F would maintain copies of the documents supporting the analysis, which may include relevant economic reports, economic data, and information from individual borrowers.

Because in this case Registrant F has experienced similar business and lending conditions in the past, it should consider including in its supporting documentation an analysis of how the current conditions compare to its previous loss experiences in similar circumstances. The staff normally would expect that, as part of Registrant F’s effective loan loss allowance methodology, it would create a summary of the amount and rationale for the adjustment factor for review by management prior to the issuance of the financial statements.57

c. Measuring and documenting loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20 — estimating losses on loans individually reviewed for impairment but not considered individually impaired

Facts: Registrant G has outstanding loans of $2 million to Company Y and $1 million to Company Z, both of which are paying as agreed upon in the loan documents. The registrant’s loan loss allowance policy specifies that all loans greater than $750,000 must be individually reviewed for impairment under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10. Company Y’s financial statements reflect a strong net worth, good profits, and ongoing ability to meet debt service requirements. In contrast, recent information indicates Company Z’s profitability is declining and its cash flow is tight. Accordingly, this loan is rated substandard under the registrant’s loan grading system. Despite its concern, management believes Company Z will resolve its problems and determines that neither loan is individually impaired as defined by FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10.

Registrant G segments its loan portfolio to estimate loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20. Two of its loan portfolio segments are Segment 1 and Segment 2. The loan to Company Y has risk characteristics similar to the loans included in Segment 1 and the loan to Company Z has risk characteristics similar to the loans included in Segment 2.58

In its determination of its loan loss allowance under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20, Registrant G includes its loans to Company Y and Company Z in the groups of loans with similar characteristics (i.e., Segment 1 for Company Y’s loan and Segment 2 for Company Z’s loan).59 Management’s analyses of Segment 1 and Segment 2 indicate that it is probable that each segment includes some losses, even though the losses cannot be identified to one or more specific loans. Management estimates that the use of its historical loss rates for these two segments, with adjustments for changes in environmental factors, provides a reasonable estimate of the registrant’s probable loan losses in these segments.

Question: How would the staff normally expect Registrant G to adequately document a loan loss allowance under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20 for these loans that were individually reviewed for impairment but are not considered individually impaired?

Interpretive Response: The staff normally would expect that, as part of Registrant G’s effective loan loss allowance methodology, it would document its decision to include its loans to Company Y and Company Z in its determination of its loan loss allowance under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20.60 The staff also normally would expect that Registrant G would document the specific characteristics of the loans that were the basis for grouping these loans with other loans in Segment 1 and Segment 2, respectively.61 Additionally, the staff normally would expect Registrant G to maintain documentation to support its method of estimating loan losses for Segment 1 and Segment 2, which typically would include the average loss rate used, the analysis of historical losses by loan type and by internal risk rating, and support for any adjustments to its historical loss rates.62 The registrant would typically maintain copies of the economic and other reports that provided source data.

When measuring and documenting loan losses, Registrant G should take steps to prevent layering loan loss allowances. Layering is the inappropriate practice of recording in the allowance more than one amount for the same probable loan loss. Layering can happen when a registrant includes a loan in one segment, determines its best estimate of loss for that loan either individually or on a group basis (after taking into account all appropriate environmental factors, conditions, and events), and then includes the loan in another group, which receives an additional loan loss allowance amount.

5. Documenting the results of a systematic methodology

a. Documenting the results of a systematic methodology — general

Facts: Registrant H has completed its estimation of its loan loss allowance for the current reporting period, in accordance with GAAP, using its established systematic methodology.

Question: What summary documentation would the staff normally expect Registrant H to prepare to support the amount of its loan loss allowance to be reported in its financial statements?

Interpretive Response: The staff normally would expect that, to verify that loan loss allowance balances are presented fairly in accordance with GAAP and are auditable, management would prepare a document that summarizes the amount to be reported in the financial statements for the loan loss allowance.63 Common elements that the staff normally would expect to find documented in loan loss allowance summaries include:64

  • The estimate of the probable loss or range of loss incurred for each category evaluated (e.g., individually evaluated impaired loans, homogeneous pools, and other groups of loans that are collectively evaluated for impairment);
     
  • The aggregate probable loss estimated using the registrant’s methodology;
     
  • A summary of the current loan loss allowance balance;
     
  • The amount, if any, by which the loan loss allowance balance is to be adjusted;65 and
     
  • Depending on the level of detail that supports the loan loss allowance analysis, detailed subschedules of loss estimates that reconcile to the summary schedule.

Generally, a registrant’s review and approval process for the loan loss allowance relies upon the data provided in these consolidated summaries. There may be instances in which individuals or committees that review the loan loss allowance methodology and resulting allowance balance identify adjustments that need to be made to the loss estimates to provide a better estimate of loan losses. These changes may be due to information not known at the time of the initial loss estimate (e.g., information that surfaces after determining and adjusting, as necessary, historical loss rates, or a recent decline in the marketability of property after conducting a FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10 valuation based upon the fair value of collateral). It is important that these adjustments are consistent with GAAP and are reviewed and approved by appropriate personnel.66 Additionally, it would typically be appropriate for the summary to provide each subsequent reviewer with an understanding of the support behind these adjustments. Therefore, the staff normally would expect management to document the nature of any adjustments and the underlying rationale for making the changes.67

The staff also normally would expect this documentation to be provided to those among management making the final determination of the loan loss allowance amount.68

b. Documenting the results of a systematic methodology — allowance adjustments

Facts: Registrant I determines its loan loss allowance using an established systematic process. At the end of each reporting period, the accounting department prepares a summary schedule that includes the amount of each of the components of the loan loss allowance, as well as the total loan loss allowance amount, for review by senior management, including the Credit Committee. Members of senior management meet to discuss the loan loss allowance. During these discussions, they identify changes that are required by GAAP to be made to certain of the loan loss allowance estimates. As a result of the adjustments made by senior management, the total amount of the loan loss allowance changes. However, senior management (or its designee) does not update the loan loss allowance summary schedule to reflect the adjustments or reasons for the adjustments. When performing their audit of the financial statements, the independent accountants are provided with the original loan loss allowance summary schedule reviewed by senior management, as well as a verbal explanation of the changes made by senior management when they met to discuss the loan loss allowance.

Question: In the staff’s view, are Registrant I’s documentation practices related to the balance of its loan loss allowance in compliance with existing documentation guidance in this area?

Interpretive Response: No. A registrant should maintain supporting documentation for the loan loss allowance amount reported in its financial statements.69 As illustrated above, there may be instances in which loan loss allowance reviewers identify adjustments that need to be made to the loan loss estimates. The staff normally would expect the nature of the adjustments, how they were measured or determined, and the underlying rationale for making the changes to the loan loss allowance balance to be documented.70 The staff also normally would expect appropriate documentation of the adjustments to be provided to management for review of the final loan loss allowance amount to be reported in the financial statements. This documentation should also be made available to the independent accountants. If changes frequently occur during management or credit committee reviews of the loan loss allowance, management may find it appropriate to analyze the reasons for the frequent changes and to reassess the methodology the registrant uses.71

6. Validating a systematic methodology

Question: What is the staff’s guidance to a registrant on validating, and documenting the validation of, its systematic methodology used to estimate loan loss allowances?

Interpretive Response: The staff believes that a registrant’s loan loss allowance methodology is considered valid when it accurately estimates the amount of loss contained in the portfolio. Thus, the staff normally would expect the registrant’s methodology to include procedures that adjust loan loss estimation methods to reduce differences between estimated losses and actual subsequent charge-offs, as necessary. To verify that the loan loss allowance methodology is valid and conforms to GAAP, the staff believes it is appropriate for management to establish internal control policies,72 appropriate for the size of the registrant and the type and complexity of its loan products. These policies may include procedures for a review, by a party who is independent of the allowance for loan losses estimation process, of the allowance for loan losses methodology and its application in order to confirm its effectiveness.

In practice, registrants employ numerous procedures when validating the reasonableness of their loan loss allowance methodology and determining whether there may be deficiencies in their overall methodology or loan grading process. Examples are:

  • A review of trends in loan volume, delinquencies, restructurings, and concentrations.
     
  • A review of previous charge-off and recovery history, including an evaluation of the timeliness of the entries to record both the charge-offs and the recoveries.
     
  • A review by a party that is independent of the loan loss allowance estimation process. This often involves the independent party reviewing, on a test basis, source documents and underlying assumptions to determine that the established methodology develops reasonable loss estimates.
     
  • An evaluation of the appraisal process of the underlying collateral. This may be accomplished by periodically comparing the appraised value to the actual sales price on selected properties sold.

It is the staff’s understanding that, in practice, management usually supports the validation process with the workpapers from the loan loss allowance review function. Additional documentation often includes the summary findings of the independent reviewer. The staff normally would expect that, if the methodology is changed based upon the findings of the validation process, documentation that describes and supports the changes would be maintained.73


1 When a registrant reports net income and total comprehensive income in one continuous financial statement, the registrant must continue to follow the guidance set forth in the SAB Topic. One approach may be to provide a separate reconciliation of net income to income available to common stock below comprehensive income reported on a statement of income and comprehensive income.

2 The assessment of materiality is the responsibility of each registrant. However, absent concerns about trends or other qualitative considerations, the staff generally will not insist on the reporting of income or loss applicable to common stock if the amount differs from net income or loss by less than ten percent.

3 These requirements have been further revised to require the company’s CEO and CFO to certify to the information contained in the company’s periodic filing.

4 See question 5 for a discussion of the meaning of components of an entity as used in Item 302(a)(2).

5 Registrants also are reminded that FASB ASC paragraph 250-10-50-1 (Accounting Changes and Error Corrections Topic) requires that companies disclose the nature of and justification for the change as well as the effects of the change on net income for the period in which the change is made. Furthermore, the justification for the change should explain clearly why the newly adopted principle is preferable to the previously-applied principle.

6 [Original footnote removed by SAB 114.]

7 FASB ASC paragraph 450-20-25-2.

8 For purposes of this interpretation, a loan is defined (consistent with the FASB ASC Master Glossary) as a contractual right to receive money on demand or on fixed or determinable dates that is recognized as an asset in the creditor’s statement of financial position. For purposes of this interpretation, loans do not include trade accounts receivable or notes receivable with terms less than one year or debt securities subject to the provisions of FASB ASC Topic 320, Investments — Debt and Equity Securities.

9 FRR 28 states that “ the Commission’s staff normally would expect to find that the books and records of registrants engaged in lending activities include documentation of [the]: (a) systematic methodology to be employed each period in determining the amount of the loan losses to be reported, and (b) rationale supporting each period’s determination that the amounts reported were adequate.”

10 See paragraph 9.05 of the Audit Guide.

11 Ibid.

12 For federally insured depository institutions, the December 21, 1993 “Interagency Policy Statement on the Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses (ALLL)” (the 1993 Interagency Policy Statement) indicates that boards of directors and management have certain responsibilities for the ALLL process and amounts reported. For example, as indicated on page 4 of that statement, “the board of directors and management are expected to: Ensure that the institution has an effective loan review system and controls[;] Ensure the prompt charge-off of loans, or portions of loans, that available information confirms to be uncollectible[; and] Ensure that the institution’s process for determining an adequate level for the ALLL is based on a comprehensive, adequately documented, and consistently applied analysis of the institution’s loan and lease portfolio.”

13 SAS 61 (as amended by SAS 90) states, in part: “In connection with each SEC engagement the auditor should discuss with the audit committee the auditor’s judgments about the quality, not just the acceptability, of the entity’s accounting principles as applied in its financial reporting. The discussion should include items that have a significant impact on the representational faithfulness, verifiability, and neutrality of the accounting information included in the financial statements. [Footnote omitted.] Examples of items that may have such an impact are the following:

  • Selection of new or changes to accounting policies
  • Estimates, judgments, and uncertainties
  • Unusual transactions

Accounting policies relating to significant financial statement items, including the timing or transactions and the period in which they are recorded.”

14 Registrants should also refer to FASB ASC Section 450-20-30, Contingencies — Loss Contingencies — Initial Measurement, which provides accounting and disclosure guidance for situations in which a range of loss can be reasonably estimated but no single amount within the range appears to be a better estimate than any other amount within the range.

15 Registrants should refer to the guidance on materiality in SAB Topic 1.M.

16 FRR 28 states: “The specific rationale upon which the [loan loss allowance and provision] amount actually reported is based — i.e., the bridge between the findings of the detailed review [of the loan portfolio] and the amount actually reported in each period--would be documented to help ensure the adequacy of the reported amount, to improve auditability, and to serve as a benchmark for exercise of prudent judgment in future periods.”

17 Paragraph 9.64 in the Audit Guide outlines specific aspects of effective internal control related to the allowance for loan losses. These specific aspects include the control environment (“management communication of the need for proper reporting of the allowance”); management reports that summarize loan activity and the institution’s procedures and controls (“accumulation of relevant, sufficient, and reliable data on which to base management’s estimate of the allowance”); “independent loan review;” review of information and assumptions (“adequate review and approval of the allowance estimates by the individuals specified in management’s written policy”); and assessment of the process (“comparison of prior estimates related to the allowance with subsequent results to assess the reliability of the process used to develop the allowance”).

18 Paragraph 9.64 of the Audit Guide discusses “management communication of the need for proper reporting of the allowance.” As indicated in that paragraph, the “control environment strongly influences the effectiveness of the system of controls and reflects the overall attitude, awareness, and action of the board of directors and management concerning the importance of control.”

19 Paragraph 9.56 of the Audit Guide refers to the documentation, for disclosure purposes, that an entity should include in the notes to the financial statements describing the accounting policies the entity used to estimate its allowance and related provision for loan losses.

20 Ibid. As indicated in paragraph 9.56, “[s]uch a description should identify the factors that influenced management’s judgment (for example, historical losses and existing economic conditions) and may also include discussion of risk elements relevant to particular categories of financial instruments.”

21 See also paragraph 9.64 in the Audit Guide which provides information about specific aspects of effective internal control related to the allowance for loan losses.

22 Ibid. Public companies are required to comply with the books and records provisions of the Exchange Act. Under Sections 13(b)(2) - (7) of the Exchange Act, registrants must make and keep books, records, and accounts, which, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of assets of the registrant. Registrants also must maintain internal accounting controls that are sufficient to provide reasonable assurances that, among other things, transactions are recorded as necessary to permit the preparation of financial statements in conformity with GAAP.

23 Concepts Statement 2, Qualitative Characteristics of Accounting Information, provides guidance on “reliability” as a primary quality of accounting information.

24 Section 13(b)(2) - (7) of the Exchange Act.

25 As indicated in paragraph 9.05, item a, in the Audit Guide, a loan loss allowance methodology should “include a detailed and regular analysis of the loan portfolio.” Paragraphs 9.06 to 9.13 provide additional information on how creditors traditionally identify and review loans on an individual basis and review or analyze loans on a group or pool basis.

26 Ibid. Additionally, paragraph 9.64 in the Audit Guide provides guidance on the loan review process. As stated in that paragraph, “[m]anagement reports summarizing loan activity, renewals, and delinquencies are vital to the timely identification of problem loans.” The paragraph further states: “Loan reviews should be conducted by competent institution personnel who are independent of the underwriting, supervision, and collections functions. The specific lines of reporting depend on the complexity of the institution’s organizational structure, but the loan reviewers should report to a high level of management that is independent from the lending process in the institution.”

27 Ibid.

28 Ibid.

29 Ibid.

30 Paragraph 9.07 in the Audit Guide states that “creditors have traditionally identified loans that are to be evaluated for collectibility by dividing the loan portfolio into different segments. Loans with similar risk characteristics, such as risk classification, past-due status, and type of loan should be grouped together.” Paragraph 9.08 provides additional guidance on classifying individual loans and paragraph 9.13 indicates considerations for groups or pools of loans.

31 See FASB ASC paragraphs 310-10-35-16 through 310-10-35-19 on recognition of impairment and FASB ASC paragraphs 310-10-35-20 through 310-10-35-37 on measurement of impairment.

32 See FASB ASC paragraph 310-10-35-36.

33 See FASB ASC paragraph 450-20-25-2 on accrual of loss contingencies and FASB ASC paragraphs 310-10-35-5 through 310-10-35-11 on collectibility of receivables.

34 FASB ASC paragraph 310-10-35-8 provides that a loan is impaired when, based on current information and events, it is probable that all amounts due will not be collected pursuant to the terms of the loan agreement.

35 See FASB ASC paragraph 310-10-35-22.

36 Under GAAS, auditors should obtain “sufficient competent evidential matter” to support its audit opinion. See AU Section 326. The staff normally would expect registrants to maintain such evidential matter for its allowances for loan losses for use by the auditors in conducting their annual audit.

37 Paragraph 9.74 in the Audit Guide outlines sources of information, available from management, that the independent accountant should consider in identifying loans that contain high credit risk or other significant exposures and concentrations. These sources of information would also likely include documentation of loan impairment under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10 or FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20. Additionally, as indicated in paragraphs 9.85 to 9.97 of the Audit Guide, the independent accountant, in conducting an audit, may perform a detailed loan file review for selected loans. A registrant’s loan files may contain documentation about borrowers’ financial resources and cash flows (see paragraph 9.92) or about the collateral securing the loans, if applicable (see paragraphs 9.94 and 9.95).

38 FASB ASC paragraph 310-10-35-27 indicates that environmental factors include existing industry, geographical, economic, and political factors.

39 See paragraphs 9.94 and 9.95 in the Audit Guide for additional information about documentation of loan collateral.

40 When reviewing collateral dependent loans, Registrant C may often find it more appropriate to obtain an updated appraisal to estimate the effect of current market conditions on the appraised value instead of internally estimating an adjustment.

41 An auditor who uses the work of a specialist, such as an appraiser, in performing an audit in accordance with GAAS should refer to the guidance in SAS 73 (AU Section 336).

42 See paragraphs 9.94 to 9.95 in the Audit Guide for further information about documentation of loan collateral and associated audit procedures that may be performed by the independent accountant.

43 As stated in paragraph 9.14 of the Audit Guide, “[t]he approach for determination of the allowance should be well documented.”

44 Paragraph 9.07 of the Audit Guide indicates that “loans with similar risk characteristics, such as risk classification, past-due status, and type of loan, should be grouped together.”

45 Segmentation of the loan portfolio is a standard element in a loan loss allowance methodology. As indicated in paragraph 9.05 of the Audit Guide, the loan loss allowance methodology “should be well documented, with clear explanations of the supporting analyses and rationale.”

46 An example of a loan segment that does not generally require an allowance for loan losses is a group of loans that are fully secured by deposits maintained at the lending institution.

47 FRR 28 refers to a “systematic methodology to be employed each period” in determining provisions and allowances for loan losses. As indicated in FRR 28, the staff normally would expect that the systematic methodology would be documented “to help ensure that all matters affecting loan collectibility will consistently be identified in the detailed [loan] review process.”

48 Ibid. Also, as indicated in paragraph 9.05 of the Audit Guide, the loan loss allowance methodology “should be well documented, with clear explanations of the supporting analyses and rationale.” Further, as indicated in paragraph 9.14 of the Audit Guide, “[t]he approach for determination of the allowance should be well documented.”

49 Refer to FASB ASC subparagraph 450-20-25-2(b). Also, as indicated in FASB ASC subparagraph 310-10-35-4(c), “[t]he approach for determination of the allowance shall be well documented and applied consistently from period to period.”

50 Refer to FASB ASC paragraphs 310-10-35-10 through 310-10-35-11.

51 Registrants should also refer to FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20, which provides guidance for situations in which a range of loss can be reasonably estimated but no single amount within the range appears to be a better estimate than any other amount within the range. Also, paragraph 9.14 of the Audit Guide notes the use of “a method that results in a range of estimates for the allowance,” except for impairment measurement under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10, which is based on a single best estimate and not a range of estimates. Paragraph 9.14 also states that “[t]he approach for determination of the allowance should be well documented.”

52 The systematic methodology (including, if applicable, loss estimation models) used to determine loan loss provisions and allowances should be documented in accordance with FRR 28, paragraph 9.05 of the Audit Guide, and FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10.

53 Refer to paragraph 9.13 in the Audit Guide.

54 AU 326 describes the “sufficient competent evidential matter” that auditors must consider in accordance with GAAS.

55 This question and response would also apply to other registrant fact patterns in which the registrant adjusts loss rates for environmental factors.

56 Paragraph 9.56 of the Audit Guide refers to the documentation, for disclosure purposes, that an entity should include in the notes to the financial statements describing the accounting policies and methodology the entity used to estimate its allowance and related provision for loan losses. As indicated in paragraph 9.56, “[s]uch a description should identify the factors that influenced management’s judgment (for example, historical losses and existing economic conditions) and may also include discussion of risk elements relevant to particular categories of financial instruments.”

57 Paragraph 9.64 in the Audit Guide indicates that effective internal control related to the allowance for loan losses should include “accumulation of relevant, sufficient, and reliable data on which to base management’s estimate of the allowance.”

58 These groups of loans do not include any loans that have been individually reviewed for impairment under FASB ASC Section 310-10-35, Receivables — Overall — Subsequent Measurement, and determined to be impaired as defined by FASB ASC Section 310-10-35.

59 FASB ASC paragraph 310-10-35-36 states that if a creditor concludes that an individual loan specifically identified for evaluation is not impaired under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10, that loan may be included in the assessment of the allowance for loan losses under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20, but only if specific characteristics of the loan indicate that it is probable that there would be an incurred loss in a group of loans with those characteristics.

60 Paragraph 9.05 in the Audit Guide indicates that an entity’s method of estimating credit losses should “include a detailed and regular analysis of the loan portfolio,” “consider all loans (whether on an individual or pool-of-loans basis),” “be based on current and reliable data,” and “be well documented, with clear explanations of the supporting analyses and rationale.” FASB ASC paragraph 310-10-35-36 provides guidance as to the analysis to be performed when determining whether a loan that is not individually impaired under FASB ASC Subtopic 310-10 should be included in the assessment of the loan loss allowance under FASB ASC Subtopic 450-20.

61 Ibid.

62 Ibid.

63 FRR 28 states: “[t]he specific rationale upon which the [loan loss allowance and provision] amount actually reported is based — i.e., the bridge between the findings of the detailed review [of the loan portfolio] and the amount actually reported in each period-would be documented to help ensure the adequacy of the reported amount, to improve auditability, and to serve as a benchmark for exercise of prudent judgment in future periods.”

64 See also paragraph 9.14 of the Audit Guide.

65 Subsequent to adjustments, the staff normally would expect that there would be no material differences between the consolidated loss estimate, as determined by the methodology, and the final loan loss allowance balance reported in the financial statements. Registrants should refer to SAB 99 and SAS 89 and its amendments to AU Section 310.

66 Paragraph 9.64 in the Audit Guide indicates that effective internal control related to the allowance for loan losses should include “adequate review and approval of the allowance estimates by the individuals specified in management’s written policy.”

67 See the guidance in paragraph 9.14 of the Audit Guide (“[t]he approach for determination of the allowance should be well documented”) and in FRR 28 (“the specific rationale upon which the amount actually reported in each individual period is based would be documented”).

68 Ibid.

69 Ibid.

70 Ibid.

71 As outlined in paragraph 9.64 of the Audit Guide, effective internal controls related to the allowance for loan losses should include adequate review and approval of allowance estimates, including review of sources of relevant information, review of development of assumptions, review of reasonableness of assumptions and resulting estimates, and consideration of changes in previously established methods to arrive at the allowance.

72 Ibid.

73 See paragraph 9.64 of the Audit Guide.

 

http://www.sec.gov/interps/account/sabcodet6.htm


Modified: 03/10/2011