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M-3 Ammo

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Delivered the first work-related presentation I’ve done in a while today. And in several respects, this one was unique from most of the presentations I’ve recently done or might normally expect to be doing these days –

  • Audience – Instead of speaking to actuaries, or even pension lawyers or other pension professionals, my audience was IRS agents who generally had zero knowledge of pensions or employee benefits.
     
  • Topic – My basic topic was the difference between the accounting applicable to pensions under U.S. standards versus international standards. That topic would not have been odd at all while I was at Milliman – in fact, I wrote two separate pension accounting articles for the Enrolled Actuaries Report within my final 18 months there. But at the IRS, accounting issues have been as distant from my work as some distant galaxy light years away, so far off that I have felt completely comfortable keeping my spreadsheet “hobby” separate from official work.
     
  • Geography – Do I get “travel comp” time for the commute up the Gulf Freeway? This speech was delivered at the IRS building in downtown Houston. At least I didn’t need to struggle with GovTrip paperwork!
     
  • Prep Time – Rhonda phoned me about doing this speech less than 2 weeks ago. Although of course I’ve had enough background on the topic to feel comfortable with the material, the absence of focus on accounting issues during my IRS tenure did mean that I needed to dust off some rust and double-check for any updates during the past two years; so I did not finish my preparations sufficiently to actually prepare my slides until this morning!

All in all, I think it went well. As usual for my presentations, I instantly knew there were some things I will be changing if and when I deliver this presentation again (which might actually happen, given emerging developments in pension accounting). Notably, I think the presentation would do well to center around a structure building a reconciliation between the two standards that would focus specifically on the six components of pension cost under the U.S. standard (including the different places in a financial statement that those items can land, since the profit statement won’t always be the target any longer).

And perhaps some actual M-3 illustrations. Since the Schedule M-3 was the premise for the 2-day meeting of which my 30-minute presentation today was part. That corporate income tax return schedule giving rise to a concern I afterward expressed to my own manager: that I worried that many of our own pension actuaries might think an M-3 to be some type of rifle, thereby failing to be in any position to provide any support to our agents on any pension-related M-3 questions. My manager responded by saying that I was “it” – another sign that this is unlikely to be the last I see of this topic (and leaving me scratching my head as to why it took them until less than 2 weeks ago to let me know this was all coming up).

Written by macheide

5 August 2009 at 1:10 pm

Posted in deskjob

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