Corporate Finance & Governance | Financial Planning | Leadership / Management | Tax | Taxation

New year, familiar challenges for finance execs

Crystal The best thing I can think of to say about 2009 is that it's over. New year? Bring it on. Economically speaking, it can't be any worse the previous one, can it?

Of course, 2010 likely won't be a walk in the park, either. Scores of challenges loom on the horizon for corporate America, and the folks at FEI have put together a list of some of the top issues that will impact finance executives in the coming year. They include:

  1. Economic recovery and the U.S. fiscal outlook: "In FEI’s most recent CFO outlook survey, respondents noted economicimprovements but were hesitant to declare the recession over, or soon to be," the FEI report states. "Meanwhile, companies continue to restructure in light of contractions in the job market and ultimately will determine how realignments can provide opportunities for future growth."

  2. Health care reform: "While legislative reform will likely come in 2010, the long-term impacts on companies and their ability to design health coverage tailored to their employees needs and their company’s mission will last for years," writes FEI.

  3. Employeee benefits: "Though the market has stabilized," the report reads, "pension plan funding is still a consideration as a number of plans maintain a funded status below federally mandated thresholds."

  4. Financial regulatory reform: Writes FEI: "The financial crisis spurred debate on an array of regulatory issues including monetary policy, credit rating agencies, compensation, financial products, capital market regulation and resolution authority and insurance. While many reform efforts are directed at the financial services industry, regulatory changes are likely to be broad and impact all industries and sectors. Of specific interest is legislation."

  5. Global convergence of U.S. GAAP and IFRS: According to FEI, operational considerations include "changes to accounting systems and contractual agreements, corporate governance considerations, litigation contingencies and human capital readiness."

  6. Financial instruments: "FASB and IASB will continue to develop a comprehensive model for accounting for financial
    instruments, including hedge accounting," writes FEI, "but each started deliberating separately, planning on a subsequent joint meeting to reconcile differences.

  7. Financial statement presentation: According to FEI, this joint IASB and FASB Memorandum of Understanding project "sets out significant changes to the structure and presentation of the basic financial statements, including a move to organize the components of the statement of financial position, comprehensive income and cash flows by major activities: business, financing, income taxes, discontinued operations and equity."

  8. Revenue recognition: "The proposed standards focus on an entity assessing whether control has been transferred to the customer," the FEI report reads. "This will have a major impact on company financial statements."

  9. Business taxation: "Major tax reform seems unlikely this year, though the 2003 'Bush tax cuts' are set to expire this year so numerous tax policies will be debated," writes FEI. "In February, financial executives should keep on eye on the Obama administration’s FY 2011 budget proposal as well as a report from the President’s Tax Reform Subcommittee of the President’s
    Economic Recovery Advisory Board."

Read the report in its entirety.

And that doesn't include the spectre of combined business reporting, sales taxes on services and other potential legislative hurdles that Maryland's General Assembly might set up in Annapolis.

It should be an interesting year,to say the least.

What are the biggest issues on your radar screen?


Bill Sheridan