F-A-S-B, it’s easy as 1-2-3. As simple as A-S-U 2015-12. The Financial Accounting Standards Board is singing a new tune these days as it continues down the path of its Simplification Initiative. The Accounting Standards Update (ASU) for Plan Accounting: Defined Benefit Pension Plans (Topic 960), Defined Contribution Pension Plans (Topic 962), Health and Welfare Benefit Plans (Topic 965): Part (I) Fully Benefit-Responsive Investment Contracts, Part (II) Plan Investment Disclosures, Part (III) Measurement Date Practical Expedient is one such measure that aims to reduce the complexity in employee benefit plan accounting. The amendments (Parts I, II, and III) that went into effect for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2015, significantly impact benefit plan reporting by eliminating some of the financial statement reporting and disclosures that were previously required. The “sum of these parts”—we’ll explore each below—equals a shift toward simplification.
Part I of this ASU modifies the guidance for fully benefit-responsive investment contract (FBRIC) by eliminating the reporting requirement that employee benefit plans measure the investment contract at fair value. An adjustment from fair value to contract value is no longer required on the face of the financial statement. Only the contract value measurement of the FBRIC is mandatory for reporting purposes. This is the most relevant measure for the contracts, because it is the amount participants typically receive if they initiate allowed transactions under the terms of the plan. However, plans still must disclose a description for the nature of each investment and any events that could hinder the ability of the plan to transact at contract value. By implementing this update, plans are reporting on relevant information while reducing complexity for the FBRIC.
Part II of this ASU addresses the requirement that plans must report individual investments that represent 5% or greater of net assets available for benefits and net appreciation or depreciation of investments by general type as well as by nature, characteristics, and risks. This new ASU simplifies the reporting process by allowing plans to disaggregate their investments measured using fair value by general type only, either on the face of the financials or on the notes, and is no longer necessary to be broken down any further.
Part III of this ASU amends the guidance for plans whose fiscal year does not correspond with a month-end. Plans will be allowed to use the month end that is closest to the plan’s fiscal year end for reporting purposes. Parts I and II require retrospective application, and Part III should be applied prospectively, each in its entirety.
If you have questions about this ASU, or would like to request a speaker on this topic for your organization or event, contact one of our executives below, (800) 270-9629.