As new GASB Standards are beginning to take effect, accountants everywhere are preparing themselves and their firms for the necessary changes they’ll have to make to their business operations. Complying with extensive regulations is never cheap nor easy, however, and few have an idea of where they should start when it comes to complying with the forthcoming standards.
So how should you prepare to implement new GASB standards, and how much should your business expect to pony up to ensure you’re in compliance? Follow these tips, and you’ll be in safe standing when it comes to the new standards in no time.
Arm yourself with information
In the dizzying world of financial regulations, changes can often come so fast and so frequently that it can be hard to keep up with modern standards. Luckily, by arming yourself with the proper information and relying on official sources, your firm will know what it needs to do long before new standards kick in. If you don’t want to suffer a penalty, you should familiarize yourself with these crucial sources for complying with new GASB standards.
The government has already gone a long way towards helping local governments prepare themselves to implement the new standards; a GASB toolkit has been made publicly available for municipalities, for instance. By understanding what your local government will be doing, and how they’ll operate, you’ll come to have a much greater understanding of the new regulations as a whole, and should know what to expect when Uncle Sam comes knocking to ensure you’re compliant.
The forthcoming overhauls to public pensions and other postemployment benefits are dizzying to wrap one’s head around, but shouldn’t be too complex to follow after you’ve assembled a capable team. You’ll want to rope in not only your business’ finance gurus, but your IT team, too; with so much of today’s work being done on computers, it’s vital that you update your software and digital records accordingly, and prepare every member of your staff from the top down.
Given that the new standards implementation guide can run as long as 248 pages, you shouldn’t expect to fall into compliance with new standards by relying on your executive staff alone. While it can be costly for a company to do a top-down review that ensures all their employees, even and especially new or entry level workers, are aware of new standards, it’s necessary for you to be in compliance.
Retrofitting your staff for compliance
Local governments and firms alike will face similar challenges when it comes to figuring out the new standards; chief amongst them is equipping a relatively small staff with the training and tools necessary to sort through such a massive mountain of regulations. Ensure your accounting management team is up to snuff long before you try to tackle the new standards, or else you’ll find your efforts in vain before you’ve even started.
A vital part of ensuring your team is a well-oiled machine when it comes to complying with new standards is ensuring transparency. It can be incredibly intimidating for a low-level member of your staff to approach a supervisor with concerns that your company may not be totally in compliance, for instance, meaning you’ll want to go out of your way to ensure every one of your workers that feedback is necessary and welcomed with open-arms. Don’t punish the bearers of bad news if they’re the ones who reveal your company isn’t in compliance, as they very well might be saving you prestige and revenue in the long-run by avoiding fines or sanctions.
You’ll be placing heavy demands on all of your team members as you scramble to come into compliance with new standards, too, so ensure that you don’t burn out your vital workers by putting too much pressure on them. Haste makes waste, and trying to ensure that you’re compliant with new standards as quick as possible might save you valuable work hours or money, but could also allow something to slip through the cracks that you might have otherwise caught.
Looping in your entire team – from your IT workers, to your finance gurus, an especially your HR department – is vital for you to succeed. You’ll want to ensure all of your documentation is up to date and digitized for easy access, and will want to have a dedicated task force for “cleaning up” any errors you may have inevitably missed in the past that might be surfacing now.
Don’t be intimidated by the complexity of the new standards; while it won’t be easy for you to ensure you’re in compliance with new GASB regulations, an overhaul to statewide pensions is long overdue in many places. Prepare your team ahead of time, mobilize all stakeholders to ensure chief productivity, and double check your documentation, and you’ll be compliant with new standards faster than you’d believe possible.
Cost accountant with major focus in SAP/General Fund Enterprise Business System (GFEBS). Also, main functional inspector for accounting/finance audits for internal reviews as well as the Statement of Budgetary Resources audit initiative.