Best practices for ASC 718 reporting

This article discusses why does ASC 718 matter and the best practice of ASC 718 reporting.

Any corporation that grants employees stock options must expense such compensation following the requirements of ASC 718. The Accounting Standards Codification (ASC), created in 2009 by The Financial Accounting Standard Board (FASB), is the sole authentic and unified source for equity-related Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Individual regulations are made simpler by the ASC reporting system, so they may be quickly referred to when companies carry out stock-based compensation reporting. In the event of an audit, accurate reporting and disclosure for stock-based compensation reporting in the financial statements are required. In the beginning, the process may seem simple and easy to tally. However, as the business grows, employees increase, and the list of stakeholders gets extensive, ASC reporting gets complicated.

To help businesses stay on top of their stock-based compensation reporting through ASC 718, this article discusses why does ASC 718 matter and the best practice of ASC 718 reporting.

ASC 718 reporting

Silicon Valley debates promoted the idea of counting employee grants as corporate expenditures, which has spread nationwide since employees often get stock as part of their remuneration. This dispute showed that a business’s refusal to expense equity awards inflates its earnings and that stock-based compensation reporting should be standardized.

Before 2009, equity compensation was reported using FAS 123(r). After 2009, the Financial Accounting Standard Board (FASB) created the Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) to provide US GAAP. ASC 718 covers how stock-based compensation reporting can cover employee stock awards on an income statement.

What is ASC 718?

The appropriate stock-based compensation reporting in corporate finance is covered by ASC 718. ASC 718 is the acronym for Article No. 718 in the Accounting Standards Codification. Its goal is to have stock-based remuneration values included in financial statements. Businesses keep it a standard for itemizing equity pay to their staff and non-employees. These guidelines must be followed by businesses when creating GAAP-compliant financial reports.

Why report ASC 718?

ASC reporting is very important during an audit and maintaining GAAP-compliant financial records. A corporation may justify its accounting method for stock-based remuneration with the help of its ASC reporting files. To be able to achieve this, one needs to comprehend what does ASC reporting include. These are, broadly speaking, the three crucial details concerning equity compensation as listed below:

  • Valuation – Depending on when the stock-based compensations were granted, every firm must comprehend the value of the company’s stock or other underlying assets.
  • Legal terms – Every corporation must comprehend the legal aspects of stock ownership, such as vesting, issuing, share count, and agreement information.
  • Other benefits – This data consists of similar stock baskets, risk-free rates, dividend yield, and stock price volatility.

Equity compensation is typically applied by startup companies, which may lack the requisite funding while the business has just started. However, it may also be utilized by more mature organizations to attract and reward highly-qualified staff. Companies should periodically monitor grant activities and disclose details about all these activities in the ASC 718 report.

When should you start to expense employee stock options?

Most businesses provide financial information, but early-stage, privately owned enterprises that have not yet generated revenue sometimes do not. However, a company will be expected to regularly give conventional financial reporting yearly or quarterly if it incorporates other parties, including institutional investors. Investors can monitor risk using these financial reports to evaluate the company’s financial activities.

The ASC reporting file is a minor but crucial part of those financials that are essential to the investor’s information privileges. After financing a Series A or B, most businesses will create financial statements for the first time, including an ASC 718 report for stock-based compensation reporting. Additionally, a corporation usually starts to make money at this time. Once a business starts bringing in money, it’s typical for it to go through an external audit by an accountant, which also calls for an ASC 718 report.

What does ASC 718 reporting include?

During ASC 718 reporting, several rules and regulations must be considered. The companies should follow a few rules during ASC 718 reporting. The following details must be reported before stock-based compensation expenditures may be reported:

  • Granting date
  • Exercise prices of each share
  • How many shares were issued
  • Fair Value of the shares received as per AC 718

Additionally, to take a broad view of the stages involved, the ASC reporting process consists of three main components as discussed below:

  • Determine the value of options – Finding a fair valuation in the case of startups is challenging since the shares are not always liquid. A variety of valuation mechanisms determines the value of such shares. Businesses can choose any mechanism if they stick with it over time. Several variables are needed to calculate a fair value, such as the option strike price, fair market value, estimated dividend yield (often zero for startups), anticipated grant length, volatility of the specific shares, and risk-free interest rate for the duration of the grant.
  • Allocating the expense over the option’s useful economic life – The value of employee stock options is treated the same way as the depreciation and amortization of any other intangible or tangible asset over the course of its useful economic life. As with depreciation, there are many ways to make an allocation like this. With the “straight-line” technique, the value of a grant is evenly distributed over the service period for which the grant is given. For example, if a grant comes into effect over three years, you would spend one-third of the overall cost each year. Another choice is the FIN28 method, also called the “ratable” technique. This means that each chunk of an equity grant is given out separately, which speeds up equity compensation expenses. To use the same example as before, if the initial third of options become exercisable in the first year, you would have to pay for them in the first year. If the next third vests the following year, you would pay for it in the first and second years, etc. This method can also be called “tranche-by-tranche” accumulation.
  • Recognize those expenses as employee compensation on your income statement – Lastly, you have to record the costs of giving out stock-based compensation as expenses in the cap table and show them on the business’s income statement. The third and final stage may appear simple, but the first two can get quite complex in a short amount of time. Here are some best practices to keep in mind if your company is having trouble accounting for stock compensation or if you will soon be performing your first ASC 718 reporting.

Tips to prepare for ASC reporting

Here are some recommended practices to bear in mind as you get started if your company is having trouble accounting for stock pay or if you’ll soon:

Tips to prepare for ASC reporting

  • Use software instead of the manual process – ASC 718 computations can get difficult. In innovative firms with few formal procedures, stock-based compensation reporting may be done using Excel spreadsheets, hand-keyed data, and complex inline algorithms. ASC reporting may become overwhelming when your company develops, employees change, and stock valuation factors change. This is a time-consuming distraction for your finest financial staff. It leads to bad data, spreadsheet formula problems, and erroneous financial statements. Consider employing an automated ASC reporting software from the start.
  • Decide to scale – As the firm expands, the workforce grows, equity awards become more frequent and valuable, and manual procedures become a bigger issue. As you reduce in-house experienced resources, the stakes are rising. At this time, an unprepared financial analyst cannot help with ASC reporting. Compliance standards and the cost of mistakes increase as your firm expands. It takes significant ramp-up time and a trustworthy individual to handle private employee pay data. Most new firms want to develop rapidly, so they should plan. That requires effective, dependable mechanisms to avoid bottlenecks.
  • Get professional advice – Specialists may best handle ASC reporting. Some may need external counsel and training. Others want a complete solution that handles record-keeping, management, and stock-based compensation reporting. Hiring professionals is typically the fastest and most accurate way to do the task for new organizations that consider ASC reporting as a distraction.
  • Hire third-party reporting services – Third-party reporting services like Eqvista might be helpful if your company is having trouble with the ASC 718 reporting requirements. We provide a comprehensive range of stock management software, administration services, and equity compensation services for both public and private firms. Our professionals can help you increase the efficiency of your stock plan administration since they have an in-depth understanding of the sector.

How does ASC 718 reporting get complicated?

To comply with GAAP, a firm must employ modification accounting if it wishes to revalue its options if the exercise price is less than the present 409A fair market value. To evaluate if there is any extra expenditure – above and beyond the initially projected expense – the corporation must assess the value of the option preceding the alteration and after it. This additional expense then increases the initially scheduled expenditure.

This procedure may be challenging if there are several adjustments to option grants. Keeping track of these developments may be difficult as a business grows.

How does Eqvista help?

To avoid exaggerating your earnings, covering all of your expenditures in your ASC reporting is essential. Using a spreadsheet to account for options properly may be challenging. It is difficult to stay on top when accounting standards alter over time. Eqvista can help you manage your cap table, and the expenses accrue when you award options. With Eqvista, you get the following benefits:

  • ASC reporting that is in accordance with GAAP and audit-ready
  • Experts with certifications to provide consulting and accounting service
  • Expert advice and assistance to guarantee a seamless procedure from the very beginning of our collaboration
  • Assurance to aid you in comprehending the laws and following them for ASC 718 requirements
  • Cost-effective services

Choose Eqvista for your ASC 718 reporting!

It is difficult to issue, monitor, and manage equity in a growing corporation. If a process is not adequately monitored, it may soon become convoluted and error-prone after being originally managed on simple Excel sheets. Eqvista is a pioneer in helping businesses manage equity and stock-based compensation. Implementing ASC 718 for stock-based compensation reporting is one of our renowned capabilities. A list of all of our services is provided here. Obtain more details by contacting us today!

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