Accounting for Intangibles and Goodwill and Other Highly Romantic Topics

My husband (i.e. my editor) reads every single blog post before I publish one, which is beneficial for you and me, but sadly rarely connects with my content. Bless his logical, literal heart. So, I asked him once long ago if there was anything he’d like me to write about. After a few seconds of pondering, he responded with, “FASB’s proposal to update the accounting for goodwill and FASB’s ASC 350.” Tonight I’m tackling his desired topic. Mission impossible accepted.

Many of you might be unfamiliar with the FASB, so let me start with the basics. Baseball has rules. Grammar has rules. Math has rules. Accounting has rules. FASB is the rule maker for this aspect of business. FASB stands for Financial Accounting Standards Board. Pretty exciting, eh? What’s more exciting is the fact that Ryan and I both have accounting degrees and in our first months of marriage we both studied excruciatingly hard for the CPA exam, which we took together six months into our marital bliss. That’s about as romantic as you can get, eh? Thankfully, we both passed on our first attempt, which is not what happens to the majority of test takers. I can only imagine the marital trauma it would have been if only one of us had passed. (Side note: back in college, we also both applied for the same accounting part-time job at a country club. Not sure why we did that. At the interview, I was told, “We’ll let you know.” Not much later, hot-shot Ryan was offered the job on the spot during his interview. Not cool. I mean, good for him. Just not cool for our relationship. At least temporarily. Actually, his boss at that job is the one who connected him with the jeweler where he purchased my engagement ring. So, I guess it all worked out okay. However, for the matter at hand, I’m glad we both passed the CPA exam at the same time. Can’t really imagine how that would have gone over otherwise.)

Back to the important topic at hand: FASB’s ASC 350.

Um. So, we have a problem. FASB has a 42 page PDF explaining what ASC 350 is. Or at least attempting to explain what it is. My guess is the PDF is inadequate. Otherwise, why else would my husband be interested in a blog post about the topic? There is no way I am going to be able to explain anything coherent or beneficial about that FASB update. Wow. Glancing over the first few pages makes my head start to hurt. I have zero desire to try to wrap my brain any further around anything related to accounting for intangibles.

Moving on to the other topic requested by my romantic husband: FASB’s proposal to update the accounting for goodwill. Well, I know that a proposal involves a ring and most likely a squeal and a happy, “Yes, I’ll marry you!” And the more authenticity and thoughtfulness a guy puts into the proposal the more goodwill the guy will earn in the girl’s heart. Wait. I think I’m talking about the wrong proposal and goodwill. However, this could be a good time to mention how Ryan proposed to me. While standing by a river and under a big, huge weeping willow tree with the blanket of stars over it, Ryan got down on one knee and asked the big question I had been waiting for years to hear uttered from his lips. Super authentic and awesome from my perspective. However, I didn’t really think he was going to pop the question at that moment, despite the accumulating signs, because I was envisioning being so excited and freaking out and knocking the ring out of his hand and into the flowing water to be lost forever that surely he wouldn’t take the risk. Seriously, that all entered my mind in the seconds leading up to the moment when Ryan truly surprised me and did ask the question. Thankfully, I didn’t freak out, the ring safely slid on my finger, and my heart was so relieved that this longed for moment had finally occurred. A huge amount was debited to goodwill that night for sure.

Well, I guess you can tell we’re not making much progress with actual FASB anything. Sorry, Babe, the only thing I can tell you about the writing prompt you provided is that it makes me grateful for how hard you work every day for our family. Throughout our entire two decades of marriage, you have faithfully worked in the world of accounting and intangibles and goodwill to provide for me and then for our kids as they joined the family one by one. You’ve never called in sick when you weren’t sick. You’ve never grumbled and complained about your job even when it was distressing (and we both know is has been at times!). You just get up (Eventually. Gotta keep the post honest and transparent.) every day and work and work and work. You are a faithful provider. FASB ASC 350 is about intangibles. Your work ethic is the priceless intangible that has created a tremendous amount of goodwill for our family. Thank you publicly from the bottom of my heart.

The apostle Paul wrote about this same intangible in II Thessalonians 3:6-13: “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.

How does one account for goodwill and intangibles? At a minimum, a person must take serious inventory of his work ethic. If a deficit exists there, who cares how to account for anything else on the books?

Correction: My editor informed me that the 42 page PDF that I linked to was just an update to an accounting alternative within ASC 350. The link I gave was to the seventh of seven updates since 2010 related to accounting for goodwill/intangibles. In other words, ASC 350 is very long and complex and nothing I want to think about! Additionally, the FASB has dropped their proposed update in the 18 months since Ryan requested I write about it. My brain is starting to hurt again. Love having my accounting degree but glad I’m able to spend my days homeschooling my four kids thanks to my husband’s invaluable work ethic.


  1. What a terrific blog about a terrific topic! Your voice shines through this writing as well as your love and support and gratefulness for your husband.

    Liked by 1 person

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