Navigating ASC 718 Expense Reporting for Equity Compensation

In the intricate world of financial reporting, Accounting Standards Codification Topic 718 (ASC 718), as outlined by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), stands out as a crucial standard for private companies, particularly when dealing with the complexities of stock-based compensation. This standard's compliance not only ensures financial accuracy but also bolsters investor confidence, making it a vital aspect of a company's financial health. In this article we not only address what ASC 718 is, but also how to prepare for an audit.


Understanding ASC 718

ASC 718 demands meticulous tracking and reporting of stock-based compensation. It's a framework set by FASB that requires companies to:

·   Recognize the cost of employee services received in exchange for awards of equity.

·   Measure the cost based on the grant-date fair value of the award.

Given that equity's value and consequently, the compensation can fluctuate over time, ASC 718 reporting becomes a complex yet essential task for financial accuracy and compliance.


Detailed Guidance on Complex Valuations

Understanding ASC 718 requires diving into the nuances of valuing complex equity instruments. For instance, when dealing with options with market conditions, the valuation process becomes more intricate, necessitating advanced financial models. Here, Clear Rating's expertise in advanced valuation techniques comes into play, offering clients clarity and precision in their reporting.


The Valuation Process

Adhering to ASC 718 involves several key steps:

1. Getting a Valuation: Establishing a fair market value for equity grants is imperative for accurate expense reporting.

2. Cap Table Management: Ensuring the integrity of the capitalization table is foundational for subsequent reports.

3. Creating an Audit-Defensible ASC 718 Report: This involves preparing detailed documentation that substantiates the reported values and methodologies used, ready to withstand auditor scrutiny.


Timing and Compliance

The ideal time to address ASC 718 compliance is at the point of granting equity compensation. The cap table serves as the starting point, necessitating accuracy in its details to ensure compliance.


Challenges in ASC 718 Reporting

A significant challenge in ASC 718 reporting includes managing expenses related to terminations. Additionally, reliance on spreadsheets poses risks of manual errors, often referred to as "fat finger" mistakes, which can lead to significant discrepancies.


Working with Auditors 

Responding to audit inquiries requires a deep understanding of the valuation process and the ability to communicate it effectively. It’s recommended to request questions from auditors in writing, and then follow-up with a phone call to discuss each point and answer questions.


Auditor Interactions

Auditors typically focus on:

·   Comparing their calculations with reported figures.

·   Understanding the rationale behind specific expenses or lack thereof.


Best Practices for GAAP Compliance

For GAAP financial statements, it’s imperative to:

·   Accurately reflect stock-based compensation in line with ASC 718.

·   Proactively engage with auditors, providing clarity and documentation as required.


Beyond Compliance: Clear Rating’s Strategic Value

In this intricate landscape of ASC 718 compliance, Clear Rating emerges as a reliable partner. With our expertise in providing precise valuations and preparing audit-defensible reports, Clear Rating stands out as a preferred valuation provider. Our services offer:

·   Expertise in fair market value determination of equity grants.

·   Assistance in maintaining a compliant and clean cap table.

·   Guidance in creating comprehensive ASC 718 reports that align with audit requirements.

By partnering with Clear Rating, companies can navigate the complexities of ASC 718 with confidence, ensuring compliance and financial accuracy in their reporting.



Mastering ASC 718 is not just about adhering to a financial reporting standard; it's about embracing a strategic tool that enhances your company's financial narrative. With Clear Rating's expertise, companies can navigate these complexities with confidence, ensuring that their financial reporting not only meets compliance standards but also supports their broader business objectives.