HSBC could be about to become one of the first companies in the UK to begin booking share options as an expense, according to reports in the national press.
If the bank went ahead with the move it would follow in the ground-breaking footsteps of Coca-Cola, Amazon, the Washington Post, General Electric and Computer Associates, all based in the US.
There is no accounting standard compelling companies to book options as an expense but the International Accounting Standards Board is expected to publish a consultation paper (exposure draft) in the autumn outlining its intention to introduce such a measure in the near future.
There has been much opposition to the move, especially among companies who rely on share options to reward employees in lieu of cash, but the recent announcements demonstrate a clear intention on the part of some companies to ready themselves before a standard appears.
Companies are also viewing the move as a way of improving transparency at a time when there is intense public concern over accounts because of scandals such as Enron and WorldCom.
According to reports the bank has admitted that booking share options as an expense would have cost it £81m in the first six months of this year.
It appears from statements that the bank is concerned to make its position clear.