Accounting & Auditing | Corporate Finance & Governance

CPAs take next step in private company debate

Bigsmall Public companies get all of the press, but it's a private-company world.

Want proof? Consider this: There are about 17,000 public companies in the United States today, compared to more than 29 million private companies.

Economically speaking, it's not even close.

So it's not a big surprise that the AICPA and the Financial Accounting Foundation plan to create a blue-ribbon panel to examine U.S. accounting standards and how they can "best meet the needs of users of private company financial statements."

According to the AICPA, the panel will "provide recommendations on the future of standard setting for private companies, including whether separate, standalone accounting standards for private companies are needed."

This new group won't be alone, of course. The FASB's Private Company Financial Reporting Committee has been studying that question for years. Most recently, PCFRC Chair and MACPA member Judy O'Dell said the release of "IFRS for SMEs," a standard that examines the benefits of applying international financial reporting standards to small and mid-size entities, is bringing the discussion to a head.

"That subject has been around for as long as I've been in the profession, which is going on 40 years," O'Dell said in this MAPCA podcast. "It waxes and wanes, but now I think the situation is different. We're at a real tipping point in this conversation."

The time has come to give private companies their due. The AICPA and the FAF are expected to announce the roster of their new panel in January 2009, and the folks involved will take the private-company discussion to the next level.

Here's hoping they choose well.


Bill Sheridan