Credit Loss Standard: The New CECL Model

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has introduced a new way for financial institutions to recognize credit losses by way of ASU No. 2016-13. Beginning in 2020 for public companies and 2021 for private companies, the CECL model will result in earlier recognition of losses and expand the range of information considered in determining expected credit losses. Read on to understand how the new methodology differs from existing practice.

Existing model

Under existing U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), financial institutions must apply an “incurred loss” model when recognizing credit losses on financial assets measured at amortized cost. This model delays recognition until a loss is “probable” (or likely) to be incurred, based on past events and current conditions.

FASB found that, leading up to the global financial crisis, financial statement users made independent estimates of expected credit losses using forward-looking information and then devalued financial institutions before the institutions were permitted to recognize the losses. This practice made it clear that the requirements under GAAP weren’t meeting the needs of financial statement users.

New-and-improved model

Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2016-13, Financial Instruments — Credit Losses (Topic 326), introduces a new “current expected credit loss” (CECL) model. The CECL model requires financial institutions to immediately record the full amount of expected credit losses in their loan portfolios based on forward-looking information, rather than waiting until the losses are deemed probable based on what’s already happened. The FASB expects this change to result in more timely and relevant information.

The measurement of expected credit losses will be based on relevant information about past events (including historical experience), current conditions, and the “reasonable and supportable” forecasts that affect the collectability of the reported amount.

Specifically, an allowance for credit losses will be deducted from the amortized cost of the financial asset to present its net carrying value on the balance sheet. The income statement will reflect the measurement of credit losses for newly recognized financial assets, as well as the expected increases or decreases of expected credit losses that have taken place during the relevant reporting period.

Companies will be allowed to continue using many of the loss estimation techniques currently employed, including loss rate methods, probability of default methods, discount cash flow methods and aging schedules. But the inputs of those techniques will change to reflect the full amount of expected credit losses and the use of reasonable and supportable forecasts.

Contact us

Without a specific prescribed technique, the updated guidance leaves it up to each company to determine which method is appropriate when identifying and quantifying credit losses. If you need help finding the optimal method for estimating credit losses or want to ensure you’re complying with the expanded disclosure requirements, JLK Rosenberger can help. For more information, call us at (818) 334-8623 or click here to contact us.

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