how to create barcode in vb.net 2010 THREE The Accounting Story in Software

Paint DataMatrix in Software THREE The Accounting Story

CHAPTER THREE The Accounting Story
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The debate over the expensing of stock options also embroiled the major accounting firms, which at first had supported the FASB requirement but then withdrew it as corporate opposition to the expense mounted. Curiously, the same thing occurred in Congress, which at first requested the FASB to take on this issue and later undermined the accounting board when CEO and corporate lobbying intensified. What happened behind the scenes of that debate reveals much about the controversial nature of options accounting. It also adds to the still unfolding tale of the accounting profession and more specifically to the thorny question of where auditing practices leave off and client consulting begins. Like much in accounting these days, this story is viewed in retrospect through the lens of the Enron scandal and the downfall of its auditor Arthur Andersen. As this story unfolds, the reality of the debate surrounding the FASB s attempts to require the expensing of options is exposed. Corporate America was on the brink of an important decision, and it is eye-opening to see what led to the final result and how that decision came about. In the end it tells a sad tale that strikes at the heart and soul of corporate accountability.
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BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE ACCOUNTING DEBATE
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The FASB s efforts in the early 1990s to require the expensing of options were fueled in part by the investor outrage at the time over excessive executive pay. The board had long believed that option grants should be expensed, and with shareholder interests seemingly on its side, the accounting board felt the time was right to make the necessary rule changes. When the FASB reached its initial conclusions about expensing options, it sought comment on its proposed rule, including from the accounting profession. At first the board received the backing of the major accounting firms, including Arthur Andersen s standardssetting group the Accounting Principles Group. Andersen s group went so far as to prepare position papers in favor of the rule. This position, however, would not be held for long. Larry Weinbach, Andersen s CEO at the time, and other senior managers of the firm disagreed with the Accounting Principles Group, saying that the firm could not support the position of the
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PART ONE The Stock Option Problem
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FASB. The reason Strong opposition by clients, in particular hightechnology firms. In a four-part series on the fall of Andersen, Crain s Chicago Business quoted Arthur Wyatt, a member and former chairman of Andersen s standards-setting body, on the change of heart regarding option expensing. Wyatt, who was nearing retirement in late 1992, recalled, one of the guys came in and said we had to change our view on it. The rationale given was we had too many clients unhappy with the previous position we had taken (in favor of option expensing). 10 Apparently this had never happened before in the firm s history. Up until this point Andersen s policy was that the Accounting Principles Group was above the rest of the firm and could not be tainted or tempted by the lobbying of clients. In fact Andersen had been a leader in creating and maintaining high standards in the accounting profession. But times had clearly changed at Andersen as it went from an auditing company to a consulting firm as well. Technology companies had granted huge numbers of options and were therefore vehemently opposed to the proposed FASB rule. Tech firms were also a growing constituency among Andersen s clients. When they let their opposition to the accounting rule be known, Andersen bowed to the pressure. Sadder still was the apparent quid pro quo in Andersen s sudden shift of position. In exchange for a change of position on the FASB rule tech companies had apparently pledged to lobby Congress for tort reform for the accounting profession. This reform would limit the liability of individual partners in cases of inaccurate audits and other actions for which the firm was found liable. The standing regulation at the time required the accounting firms that audited public companies to be general partnerships in which each partner was individually, jointly, and severally liable for all actions of the firm. When tort reform passed, however, the individual liability of partners was greatly reduced. Both sides got what they wanted. Technology firms were not required to expense options, and accounting firm partners had limited liability on firm actions. Did that open the door for the type of
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