Summary of Statement No. 156

Accounting for Servicing of Financial Assets—an amendment of FASB Statement No. 140

Summary

This Statement amends FASB Statement No. 140, Accounting for Transfers and Servicing of Financial Assets and Extinguishments of Liabilities, with respect to the accounting for separately recognized servicing assets and servicing liabilities. This Statement:

  1. Requires an entity to recognize a servicing asset or servicing liability each time it undertakes an obligation to service a financial asset by entering into a servicing contract in any of the following situations:

     

    1. A transfer of the servicer’s financial assets that meets the requirements for sale accounting

       

    2. A transfer of the servicer’s financial assets to a qualifying special-purpose entity in a guaranteed mortgage securitization in which the transferor retains all of the resulting securities and classifies them as either available-for-sale securities or trading securities in accordance with FASB Statement No. 115, Accounting for Certain Investments in Debt and Equity Securities

       

    3. An acquisition or assumption of an obligation to service a financial asset that does not relate to financial assets of the servicer or its consolidated affiliates.

       

  2. Requires all separately recognized servicing assets and servicing liabilities to be initially measured at fair value, if practicable.

     

  3. Permits an entity to choose either of the following subsequent measurement methods for each class of separately recognized servicing assets and servicing liabilities:

     

    1. Amortization method—Amortize servicing assets or servicing liabilities in proportion to and over the period of estimated net servicing income or net servicing loss and assess servicing assets or servicing liabilities for impairment or increased obligation based on fair value at each reporting date.

       

    2. Fair value measurement method—Measure servicing assets or servicing liabilities at fair value at each reporting date and report changes in fair value in earnings in the period in which the changes occur.

       

  4. At its initial adoption, permits a one-time reclassification of available-for-sale securities to trading securities by entities with recognized servicing rights, without calling into question the treatment of other available-for-sale securities under Statement 115, provided that the available-for-sale securities are identified in some manner as offsetting the entity’s exposure to changes in fair value of servicing assets or servicing liabilities that a servicer elects to subsequently measure at fair value.

     

  5. Requires separate presentation of servicing assets and servicing liabilities subsequently measured at fair value in the statement of financial position and additional disclosures for all separately recognized servicing assets and servicing liabilities.

     

Reasons for Issuing This Statement

The Board added this project to its agenda because constituents asked the Board to reconsider Statement 140’s requirements for accounting for mortgage servicing assets and servicing liabilities. The Board decided to broaden the scope of the project to include all servicing assets and servicing liabilities. Servicing assets and servicing liabilities may be subject to significant interest rate and prepayment risks, and many entities use financial instruments to mitigate those risks. Currently, servicing assets and servicing liabilities are amortized over the expected period of estimated net servicing income or loss and assessed for impairment or increased obligation at each reporting date. The Board acknowledged that the application of the lower of carrying amount or fair value measurement attribute to servicing assets results in asymmetrical recognition of economic events, because it requires recognition of all decreases in fair value but limits recognition of increases in fair value to the original carrying amount.

An entity may use derivative instruments to mitigate the risks inherent in its servicing assets and servicing liabilities. An entity that does not apply hedge accounting to these derivative instruments is exposed to income statement volatility that arises from the use of different measurement attributes for the servicing assets and servicing liabilities and the related derivative instruments. For example, in rising interest rate environments, decreases in the fair value of derivatives are reflected in the income statement, but increases in the fair value of related servicing assets are not reflected in the income statement to the extent that fair value exceeds the amortized carrying amount. Some constituents believe that meeting current hedge accounting criteria is burdensome and unduly restrictive and that the asymmetrical accounting for mortgage servicing assets and servicing liabilities and the related financial instruments used to mitigate the related risks does not appropriately reflect the economics of the hedging techniques employed.

When adding this project to its agenda, the Board also considered the complexity of application of the amortization method, such as the timing and characterization of impairment allowances versus write-downs, as well as the desire to simplify the accounting requirements for servicing assets and servicing liabilities.

How This Statement Improves Financial Reporting

This Statement requires that all separately recognized servicing assets and servicing liabilities be initially measured at fair value, if practicable. The Board concluded that fair value is the most relevant measurement attribute for the initial recognition of all servicing assets and servicing liabilities, because it represents the best measure of future cash flows. This Statement permits, but does not require, the subsequent measurement of servicing assets and servicing liabilities at fair value. An entity that uses derivative instruments to mitigate the risks inherent in servicing assets and servicing liabilities is required to account for those derivative instruments at fair value. Under this Statement, an entity can elect subsequent fair value measurement of its servicing assets and servicing liabilities by class, thus simplifying its accounting and providing for income statement recognition of the potential offsetting changes in fair value of the servicing assets, servicing liabilities, and related derivative instruments. An entity that elects to subsequently measure servicing assets and servicing liabilities at fair value is expected to recognize declines in fair value of the servicing assets and servicing liabilities more consistently than by reporting other-than-temporary impairments.

The Board decided to require additional disclosures and separate presentation in the statement of financial position of the carrying amounts of servicing assets and servicing liabilities that an entity elects to subsequently measure at fair value to address concerns about comparability that may result from the use of elective measurement methods.

Effective Date and Transition

An entity should adopt this Statement as of the beginning of its first fiscal year that begins after September 15, 2006. Earlier adoption is permitted as of the beginning of an entity’s fiscal year, provided the entity has not yet issued financial statements, including interim financial statements, for any period of that fiscal year. The effective date of this Statement is the date an entity adopts the requirements of this Statement.

An entity should apply the requirements for recognition and initial measurement of servicing assets and servicing liabilities prospectively to all transactions after the effective date of this Statement.

An entity may elect to subsequently measure a class of separately recognized servicing assets and servicing liabilities at fair value as of the beginning of any fiscal year, beginning with the fiscal year in which the entity adopts this Statement. An entity that elects to subsequently measure a class of separately recognized servicing assets and servicing liabilities at fair value should apply that election prospectively to all new and existing separately recognized servicing assets and servicing liabilities within those classes that a servicer elects to subsequently measure at fair value. The effect of remeasuring an existing class of separately recognized servicing assets and servicing liabilities at fair value should be reported as a cumulative-effect adjustment to retained earnings as of the beginning of the fiscal year and should be separately disclosed.

This Statement permits an entity to reclassify certain available-for-sale securities to trading securities, regardless of the restriction in paragraph 15 of Statement 115, provided that those available-for-sale securities are identified in some manner as offsetting the entity’s exposure to changes in fair value of servicing assets or servicing liabilities that a servicer elects to subsequently measure at fair value. This option is available only once, as of the beginning of the fiscal year in which the entity adopts this Statement. Any gains and losses associated with the reclassified securities that are included in accumulated other comprehensive income at the time of the reclassification should be reported as a cumulative-effect adjustment to retained earnings as of the beginning of the fiscal year that an entity adopts this Statement. The carrying amount of reclassified securities and the effect of that reclassification on the cumulative-effect adjustment should be separately disclosed.