There has never been a more fun time to be an accountant. Yes, really. This week, after the small matter of 20 years chatting about it, the international accounting standards board finally will abolish the last bastion of off-balance sheet financing with new rules on operating leases.
All companies lease something or other, but it is big-ticket leasers, such as airlines or retailers with multiple rented aircraft or properties, that will be affected most.
The new rules mean the value of that, say, five-year lease on a plane or shop will have to be recognised as an asset on the balance sheet. And its total cost over that time will have to be registered as an upfront liability.
This plainly is going to wreak financial reporting havoc, with higher interest and amortisation costs in the profit and loss account while debt numbers get appreciably larger. There will not be a banking covenant in the land that will be left unlooked at. Key performance indicators such as return on capital employed will have to be recalibrated.Gee whiz - how terrifically exciting.