Navigating ASC 842: A Critical Guide for Growing Businesses


For growing businesses, adapting to complex accounting standards is a part of the journey toward maturity and compliance. One such standard, ASC 842, significantly changes how companies account for their leases. Understanding and implementing this standard is crucial for businesses to ensure accurate financial reporting and compliance. Let’s delve into what ASC 842 entails and why it’s essential for growing businesses.

Understanding ASC 842 and Its Impact on Lease Accounting

ASC 842, also known as the Lease Accounting Standard, was introduced by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to improve transparency in lease accounting. This standard requires businesses to recognize lease assets and liabilities on their balance sheets, providing a clearer picture of their financial obligations. For growing businesses, this means a more detailed reporting of their leasing activities, including real estate, equipment, and other assets. The shift from old standards to ASC 842 can significantly impact a company’s financial statements, especially if they hold numerous leases.

Key Changes Brought by ASC 842

ASC 842 brings several changes to how leases are accounted for. The most notable change is the recognition of operating leases on the balance sheet. Previously, operating leases were not included on the balance sheet, which often left a significant portion of lease obligations off the financial statements. Now, businesses must recognize these leases as assets and liabilities, providing a more comprehensive view of their financial standing. This change enhances transparency but also requires a more in-depth understanding of the leasing agreements and their implications on financial reporting.

Implementing ASC 842: Challenges and Considerations

The implementation of ASC 842 can be challenging, particularly for growing businesses that may not have robust accounting systems in place. It requires a thorough review of all lease agreements, the determination of lease terms, and the calculation of lease liabilities and right-of-use assets. Businesses must also decide on transition methods and consider the impact on financial ratios and covenants. Training the accounting team and possibly upgrading financial software systems are also part of the process.

ASC 842 Compliance: A Comparative Overview

AspectPre-ASC 842Post-ASC 842
Balance SheetOperating leases off-balance sheetOperating leases recognized on balance sheet
Financial RatiosPotentially lower liabilitiesIncreased assets and liabilities
Lease ClassificationPrimarily as operating or capital leasesOperating, finance, and short-term leases
TransparencyLower in operating leasesHigher in all lease types

This table highlights the key differences in lease accounting before and after the implementation of ASC 842, underscoring the increased transparency and financial statement changes.

Preparing for Future Financial Challenges and Opportunities

For growing businesses, adapting to ASC 842 is also an opportunity to prepare for future financial challenges and opportunities. The process of implementing this standard encourages a comprehensive review of current lease agreements and financial obligations, leading to more informed decision-making. This in-depth analysis can reveal potential areas for cost savings or restructuring, ultimately contributing to a more efficient and strategic approach to leasing and asset management. Additionally, the discipline and systems established for ASC 842 compliance can set a strong foundation for handling other complex financial reporting requirements in the future, positioning the business for sustainable growth and adaptability in a dynamic economic landscape.

Navigating Related Accounting Standards

Understanding ASC 842 also means being aware of other related accounting standards that can impact your financial reporting. It’s important for businesses, especially those in growth phases, to familiarize themselves with a range of standards to ensure comprehensive compliance. Here’s a list of key accounting standards that are often interconnected with ASC 842:

  • ASC 840, Leases: The predecessor to ASC 842, important for understanding the historical context and changes brought by the new standard.
  • ASC 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers: Provides guidance on revenue recognition, which can be closely related to leasing arrangements.
  • IFRS 16, Leases: The international counterpart to ASC 842, relevant for businesses with global operations or those reporting under IFRS.
  • ASC 350, Intangibles – Goodwill and Other: Involves accounting for intangible assets, which can intersect with lease assets under certain circumstances.
  • ASC 805, Business Combinations: Offers guidance on accounting for acquisitions, which may involve lease agreements that need to be considered under ASC 842.

By keeping abreast of these standards, businesses can ensure a more holistic approach to their financial reporting and compliance, aligning with both the spirit and the letter of these important regulations.

Enhancing Financial Transparency and Stakeholder Trust

Adopting ASC 842 not only aligns with compliance requirements but also significantly enhances financial transparency, a critical factor for stakeholder trust, especially in growing businesses. Transparent reporting of lease obligations under this standard offers stakeholders – including investors, lenders, and other financial partners – a clearer understanding of the company’s financial commitments and liabilities. This level of transparency is crucial for building trust and can aid in securing investments, loans, and other forms of financial support. For businesses looking to expand, the adoption of ASC 842 can be a testament to their commitment to financial integrity and reliability, factors that are essential in today’s competitive business environment.


For growing businesses, adapting to ASC 842 is not just about compliance; it’s about ensuring accurate and transparent financial reporting. This standard’s implementation may seem daunting, but it ultimately benefits businesses by providing a clearer picture of their lease obligations. Understanding ASC 842, preparing for its challenges, and effectively managing its implementation are essential steps for businesses poised for growth. With the right approach and resources, transitioning to this new standard can be a smooth and beneficial process.