Because of its impact on the Office of Finance, I’ve written in the past aboutthe proposed timeline and IT implications of the convergence of U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (U.S. GAAP) and the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). While the bottom-line differences between U.S. GAAP and IFRS are likely to be minimal for most businesses, some aspects of the convergence promise to be significant and problematic. One important change is how companies account for leases. The process of arriving at these rules has been contentious because it represents a major change that will entail substantial process and accounting challenges for U.S. GAAP companies. These changes are likely to go into effect as part of U.S. GAAP well ahead of any adoption of IFRS in the U.S. IT systems also will be affected, but software could smooth the transition if vendors provide a workable product.
Financial analysts typically classify real estate as a fixed cost. Strictly speaking, that’s correct, but looking at it this way leads many organizations to overlook and miss opportunities to more carefully manage their real estate and other occupancy expenses. In industries where occupancy or ownership costs account for more than 20 percent of total business expense, taking a more active approach to managing real estate and occupancy can improve a company’s profitability. But in most cases achieving a higher return from money spent on corporate facilities requires some organizational and process changes.