September 17, 2019

Today: “16th Annual Executive Compensation Conference”

Today is the “16th Annual Executive Compensation Conference”; yesterday was the “Proxy Disclosure Conference” (for which the video archive is already posted). Note you can still register to watch online by using your credit card and getting an ID/pw kicked out automatically to you without having to interface with our staff. Both Conferences are paired together; two Conferences for the price of one.

How to Attend by Video Webcast: If you are registered to attend online, just go to the home page of or to watch it live or by archive (note that it will take about a day to post the video archives after it’s shown live). A prominent link called “Enter the Conference Here” – on the home pages of those sites – will take you directly to today’s Conference (and on the top of that Conference page, you will select a link matching the video player on your computer: HTML5, Windows Media or Flash Player). Here are the “Course Materials.”

Remember to use the ID and password that you received for the Conferences (which may not be your normal ID/password for or If you are experiencing technical problems, follow these webcast troubleshooting tips. Here is today’s conference agenda; times are Central.

How to Earn CLE Online: Please read these “FAQs about Earning CLE” carefully to see if that is possible for you to earn CLE for watching online – and if so, how to accomplish that. Remember you will first need to input your Bar number(s) and that you will need to click on the periodic “prompts” all throughout each Conference to earn credit. Both Conferences will be available for CLE credit in all states except for a few – but hours for each state vary; see this “List: CLE Credit By State.”

Streamlined MD&As: How to Handle Retrospective Accounting Changes

Under the Fast Act, Item 303(a) now allows companies that provide three years’ worth of financials in their 10-K to omit from their MD&A a discussion of the earliest year. We’ve heard some companies ask how they should handle disclosure if they’ve retrospectively adopted a new accounting principle for that earliest year. These notes from a recent meeting between the CAQ & Corp Fin Staff shed some light on the SEC’s expectations (see pg. 3):

The Committee asked the staff how registrants should consider the effect of retrospective changes in omitting the earliest year discussion, given that registrants must disclose the location in the prior filing where the disclosure can be found. The staff noted that this amendment does not change the standard that applies to all of MD&A – a registrant shall provide such other information that it believes to be necessary to an understanding of its financial condition, changes in financial condition and results of operations.

Accordingly, where there has been a retrospective change, a registrant should assess whether the previously filed disclosure that it is considering omitting and making reference to continues to provide the information necessary to understand the registrant’s financial condition, changes in financial condition and results of operations.

XBRL: What’s It Good For?

XBRL has been around 10 years! A lot of people would say it’s still good for absolutely nothing – among other reasons, because it requires extra software to consume, doesn’t cover non-GAAP disclosures and can be error-prone. But there are a few cheerleaders. This FEI interview gives some insight into how Famous Dave’s CFO Paul Malazita is using data tags to evaluate acquisition targets and the company’s competitive position:

We’re working with a third-party company right now to use their software to build out a peer set of companies with certain metrics that we look at in the restaurant industry for the purposes of setting up templates and data for when we perform our annual Goodwill impairment analysis. It also helps us to understand certain transaction multiples. We pay close attention to what’s going on in our industry. Why certain brands traded at different multiples is not necessarily apparent at the outset.

Being able to use XBRL data to normalize the company, looking at the strength of their balance sheet, the strength of their revenues, their profitability metrics, things like that, really starts to get a sense of what our company is truly worth. We’re a public company. But, oftentimes, there is intrinsic value that might not be captured by the market. As we look either into acquiring other companies or what we look like in the market, using XBRL data is extremely helpful in being able to do those analyses.

Also, our note disclosures and financial statements are compared across our industry using software that provides search function on XBRL filings. So, for example, when I have something come up in a certain quarter and we’ve never had to disclose it before, I go out and search through XBRL filings to find similar companies within our industry that have had to present certain similar things in the past. And that really helps me in crafting our disclosures to make sure that we’re complying with the spirit of GAAP and providing the information that we’re supposed to be providing.

Here’s another tip from Paul: moving away from narrative disclosure in 10-Qs and 10-Ks and more toward a tabular format doesn’t just make the report easier to read for normal humans – it also makes it easier (and presumably less expensive) to add the XBRL tags.

Liz Dunshee