'Find the things that are most important to you'
Dealing with the rapid pace of change in accounting standards: There has been more change in the past 10 years in the profession than there was in probably the 50 years before that. At least it seems that way. And firms and users and preparers get a little overwhelmed from time to time. I tell them, don't try to take it all in at once. You find the things that are most important to you. If you audit a lot of GAAP-based financial statements, then you'd better get into revenue recognition. And if you're dealing with folks who deal with leases a lot, get in there. Go to classes. There's a lot of information from the FASB website, from the AICPA website, industry-specific knowledge, things like that.
Networking can help in implementation: Find a network of firms that are doing the same type of stuff. Glean some information from them because there is a lot of information out there and, in the digital age, it's so much easier to get information. That's good and bad because you can get a lot of bad information. But find folks who are doing the same type of stuff that you are. And it's an economy of scale. Maybe you can get together and have a group discussion on it because it's overwhelming.
Even competitors may need to band together: We all have to follow the same set of standards. At the end of the day, we understand our first responsibility is to uphold our own standards. If that means us getting together on a difficult standard and really trying to hammer it out together, then at the end of the day we're going to both be better. If that means sitting down with a firm that's half a mile down the street that has some of our former clients, or we have some of their former clients, we'll work on that relationship to overlook the competitive side of it. We'll do what's right in the public interest and what's in the interest of our certificate and our profession to get it right. At the end of the day, it's about doing it in accordance with the standards.
Changes in FASB's not-for-profit standard: This is the first change for not-for-profits in a number of years. And people are a little anxious about going from three categories of net assets to two. I tell them, it's really going to simplify it. You're not going to have to worry about whether it's temporarily restricted or permanently restricted. Now you just ask, is it board-designated or not designated. So for them, it has simplified things.
—As told to Ken Tysiac (Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com), a JofA editorial director.