Why have investors lost faith in accountants? Essay

Discuss, with illustrations, the extent to which issues of gross

acknowledgment may hold caused investors to lose religion in the

accounting profession during recent old ages.

Explain the issues being considered by the

International Accounting Standards Board and the

United States Financial Accounting Standards Board ( FASB )

in their joint Revenue Recognition undertaking.

Remark on how the normative manner of US accounting criterions

differs from the IASB rule based criterions and how these two

describing manners can be combined to present a on the job solution to

protect investors from aggressive gross describing in future

Introduction 3

The FASB and IASB Issues 4

Decision 11

Bibliography 13


Creative accounting coverage is a politically right term that describes a wide scope of ailments in fiscal revelation that has befallen the accounting profession, and publically traded corporations that in world sums to fraud. The dictionary defines ‘fraud’ as “the usage of dishonesty, misrepresentation, or false statements in order to derive a material advantage or to wound the involvements of others” ( BNET Business Dictionary, 2007 ) . And while accounting fraud is a planetary phenomenon, its is best exemplified by the accounting dirts that befell big U.S. corporations get downing in 1998 with Cendant executives making $ 500 million in bogus gross ( CNN Money, 1998 ) . The accounting fiascos included higher profile instances such as Enron, that grew from comparative obscureness in the oil grapevine concern to an cyberspace broadband corporate trade matcher that bankrupted the 7th largest, at the clip, U.S. company over grosss that did non be ( BBC News, 2002 ) . The list of U.S. accounting dirts among major corporations totaled 29 in 2002, including WorldCom, Tyco International and others, and prompted the drafting and transition of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act ( Mazars, 2006 ) .

And the accounting unease that hit the United States is non isolated to that state. The graduated table of Parmalat’s 15-year accounting fraud that created $ 8.5 to $ 12 billion in non-existent assets forced the elephantine Italian nutrient house into bankruptcy ( The Guardian, 2005 ) . Swiss based Adecco ( Long, 2004 ) suffered through an accounting controls dirt whereby they were charged with material failings in their North American operations, refering internal controls. The predating illustrations have been utilized to exemplify the wide based of possible accounting jobs that have in many instances erased investor financess, and in others for good damaged once trusted companies. The larger image entails a decrease of trust in the fiscal system that forms the footing for investing determinations by persons every bit good as establishments, and lies at the foundation of our economic system. It is the agencies via which investors gain a image of the wellness, wellbeing and verve of a company. The Chief Accountant at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Lynn Turner ( U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 2001 ) pointed out the importance of gross acknowledgment, which is “… typically the individual largest point reported in a company’s fiscal statements” . Turner ( U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 2001 ) , added that the cardinal underpinning of gross acknowledgment “… is that grosss should non be recognized by a company until realized or realizable and earned by the company” . The importance of the foregoing is obvious in all of the illustrations utilized whereby gross and the attendant plus coverage were the miss-statements are the bosom of the accounting dirts.

The intimacy that globalization dramas on investings, concern activities, and cross boundary line trading every bit good as grosss in visible radiation of the international graduated table of recent accounting dirts has brought the United States Financial Accounting Standards Board ( FASB ) and the International Accounting Standards ( IASB ) together in “… a joint undertaking to develop constructs for gross acknowledgment and a general criterion based on those concepts” ( International Accounting Standards Board, 2007 ) . The issues that are being considered represent the agencies to pave the manner for a convergence of U.S. and International Accounting Standards. Titled the ‘Norwalk Agreement’ , as a consequence of being set Forth in Norwalk, Connecticut in the United States, the FASB and IASB officially acknowledged their committedness in “… the development of high-quality, compatible accounting criterions that could be used for both domestic and cross-border fiscal reporting” ( Financial Accounting Standards Board, 2007a ) . As the joint attempt is still afoot, the following shall describe on the issue statements issued by the joint attempts in their latest communiques.

The new conceptual models are based on the foundation that the developed criterions are “principles-based” , intending that they will non “… be a convention of conventions … ( and therefore ) … must be rooted in cardinal concepts” ( International Accounting Standards Board, 2005 ) . Key to the preceding is that said cardinal constructs represent a model “… that is sound, comprehensive, and internally consistent” ( International Accounting Standards Board, 2005 ) . In carry oning their analysis of the issues to be addressed each of the Boards, IASB And FASB, “… published for public remark an IASB Discussion Paper / FASB Preliminary Views papers …” titled “Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting: Aim of Financial Reporting and Qualitative Characteristics of Decision-Useful Financial Reporting Information” ( Financial Accounting Standards Board, 2006a ) . In the analysis of the remarks, which form for footing for the addressing of issues relevant in the joint Revenue Recognition undertaking, the ‘general issues’ commented upon by the respondents fell into three subjects 1. range of the aim, 2. primary users of fiscal studies, and 3. completeness of the identified aim ( Financial Standards Board, 2007b ) .

The undermentioned represent the issues and therefore aims of the joint undertaking as gleaned from the probe, and roll uping of public remarks that were gathered from investor/analysts, preparers, professional administrations, standard-setters, single professionals, academic, Not-for-profit, regulator, and accounting houses ( Financial Standards Board, 2007b ) . The issues raised that are under consideration are ( Financial Standards Board, 2007b ) :

  1. The updating every bit good as polish of “… bing constructs to reflect alterations in markets, concern patterns, and the economic environment …” that have transpired in the two plus “… decennaries since the constructs were developed” .
  2. The betterment every bit good as make fulling in spreads that bing in the accounting model.
  3. The development of a common conceptual model whereby “… the Boardss are able to develop consistent criterions based on a individual set of principles” .
  4. The constitution of an authorative model embracing the FASB and IASB.
  5. One of the subject issues raised was “Should the range of the nonsubjective be fiscal coverage or fiscal statements? ” Within this context the boundaries of fiscal coverage represent another issue focus oning upon whether prognosiss and descriptions of “… societal or environmental impact studies …” are within these boundaries, and whether such countries are auditable. The concern was besides expressed that the new attack may spread out the range of the information that is therefore capable to audit, which therefore would increase conformity costs.
  6. Respondents besides raised the issue as to whether establishing an nonsubjective chiefly focused upon the appraisal of a company’s “… ability to bring forth net hard currency inflows… ( provides ) … an equal footing for other types of describing …” observing non fiscal information.
  7. The issues of whether the model should be limited to fiscal statements until after both Boardss have reached a finding of the fiscal coverage boundaries as an apprehension of what constitutes fiscal describing represents an issue necessitating elucidation.
  8. The issue of the definition of the varied types of fiscal coverage as represented by “… concern coverage, corporate administration coverage, and fiscal statements …” was another country brought up for consideration, with the recommendation that the Boards “… specify a separate aim for each of the primary fiscal statements” .
  9. One about consentaneous issue represented the entity versus proprietary attack as the methodological analysis selected will impact the mode in which amalgamate fiscal statements are presented. The predating includes the countries of “… good will, minority involvement accounting, every bit good as accounting for and revelation of related party minutess.
  10. The prejudice toward publically listed corporations was besides raised as an issue as the coverage entities of not-for-profit, little every bit good as medium sized enterprises differs in footings of resource allotment.
  11. In following the new standards, the issue of the primary user group, as represented by stockholders, “… bing and possible investors and creditors …” represented considerations to be addressed. The UK Accounting Standards Board brought forth the remark that its “Statement of Principles for Financial Reporting” has been criticized as holding excessively wide a primary user group. It focuses on merely present and possible investors, therefore exemplifying the complexness of the issue.
  12. The topic of ‘usefulness’ as being the aim of fiscal coverage was brought up as being “… the individual, overruling aim of fiscal reporting” . Remarks pointed to the fact that the intent of supplying fiscal information is to assist users compare the answerability of direction as a cardinal aspect of “… the decision-usefulness nonsubjective …” as opposed to being represented as a separate aim. In turn toing this issue, the attack was indicated as better functioning the terminal intent if it considered the following a ) . supplying fiscal information as the focal point, B ) . inclusion of the economic intent of the entity, degree Celsius ) . the mention to hard currency flows should include the “…past, present every bit good as future net hard currency flows” , vitamin D ) . the type of information being provided should be communicated.
  13. The issue of the aim of fiscal describing being based upon entirely a ‘stewardship/accountability aim pointed out the aim proposed “… was defined in narrower footings …” than soon represented in either of the current models, mentioning that the present models provide a broader position in footings of what constitutes information that is utile sing how direction has handled its stewardship duty. The focal point on hard currency flows does non turn to that users need “… sufficient information to enable them to entree the entity’s direction …” returns on capital invested every bit good as future potency and likely returns, and that historic information should non be replaced by “… frontward looking information on hard currency flows” . That fiscal coverage should non be limited to “… buy/sell/hold types of determinations …” , and that a hard currency flow focuses “… would non adequately cover the demands of a broad scope of stakeholders” . In add-on, another issue represented the fact that the increased focal point of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission “… on compensation revelation and stock options …” provided extra grounds of the importance of stewardship and corporate governance” .
  14. The issue of not-for-profit entities and stewardship as the cardinal aim was raised “… as the cardinal aim of fiscal describing …” in this case, with resource allotment indicated as non being “… as the cardinal aim of fiscal reporting” , mentioning that the appraisal as to whether the assets are being utilised “… in conformity with the wants of the users” as more of import than resource allotment.
  15. The issue of implicit in premises was besides brought frontward, naming for the consideration of “… a more robust account of the aims of accrual accounting” . Mentioning that in IASB 1 the “presentation of Financial Statements” it is required that entities prepare their fiscal statements represented as a traveling concern as the premise.
  16. Relevance, which includes “… prognostic value, collateral value and seasonableness …” in footings of a qualitative feature was brought frontward and represents another issue being considered.
  17. The mode in which ‘faithful representation’ , which includes “… verifiability, neutrality and completeness” represents an issue in footings of the attack to be taken and its weight in the procedure.
  18. Comparison and consistence were seen as cardinal issues to be included to reflect world.
  19. Understandability’s inclusion as a qualitative features, mentioning extra accent on “… doing fiscal studies … every bit clear as possible” for the common user, with less accent placed upon sophisticated users.
  20. Constraints on fiscal describing stand foring materiality in footings of “… the nature of the point in inquiry …”

The Boards, during the 3rd one-fourth of 2007 will turn to the undermentioned Phases in their joint Revenue Recognition undertaking ( Financial Accounting Standards Board, 2007c ) :

  • Phase A, stand foring redeliberations refering the aims in fiscal coverage
  • Phase B. consisting of the definition of liability along with the differentiation between liability and concern hazard. The procedure shall besides include issues related to the finding of the unit of history every bit good as constructs associating to acknowledgment and derecognition.
  • Phase C, covering “… proving measuring bases with the qualitative features. and
  • Phase vitamin D, stand foring the drafting of issues sing the “Discussion Paper on Reporting Entity” .

As the procedure in Revenue Recognition is ongoing, the indicated countries as issues are capable to alteration, farther polish as the procedure progresses.

Understanding the Differences and Similarities Between FASB and IASB

In looking at the IASB and FASB in footings of their differences, it is of import to understand the differences between these two accounting systems. The Routledge Dictionary of Business Management ( Statt, 2004, p. 2 ) defines accounting as:

“The constitution, care, aggregation and analysis of fiscal records. It is used to supply informations on the fiscal place of an organisation and any alterations that have occurred or that may happen, over clip. This is one cardinal facet of the profession ( or art ) of accountancy” .

The Houghton Mifflin Dictionary ( 2007 ) states that accounting represents:

“The bookkeeping methods involved in doing a fiscal record of concern minutess and in the readying of statements refering the assets, liabilities, and runing consequences of a business.”

The conceptual foundation and model for accounting criterions under the Financial Accounting Standards Board is “rules-based” ( Shortridge and Myring, 2004 ) . The foregoing means that the construct is based upon supplying specific inside informations stand foring the attack “… to turn to as many possible eventualities as possible” ( Shortridge and Myring, 2004 ) . The preceding has made the criterions under which the FASB operates more complex every bit good as longer, and therefore has created the foundation that has “… led to arbitrary standards for accounting interventions …” which therefore permits companies to construction their minutess whereby they can avoid unfavourable coverage. The predating therefore overcast the coverage of what has, or should hold transpired as companies seek ways to use the accounting intervention that favours describing ( Shortridge and Myring, 2004 ) . While the predating apparently condemns the rules-based attack of the FASB, it in world points out its defects. William claude dukenfields et Al ( 2001, pp. 260-261 ) point out that the rules-based accounting attack, in kernel, potentially eliminates the discretional function in allowing the communicating of information. However, Nelson et Al ( 2002, pp. 175-202 ) , agrees with the appraisal of Shortridge and Myring ( 2004 ) in that the rules-based system creates the clime whereby companies seek to construction minutess in order to obtain the accounting result desired, therefore go againsting the spirit of the criterion.

Principles-based accounting, which represents the foundation upon which the International Accounting Standards Board approaches the subject as “… a conceptual footing for comptrollers to follow alternatively of a list of elaborate rules” , belies the job that keeps come uping in the treatment of principles-based accounting is that a “… precise definition … remains elusive” ( Shortridge and Myring, 2004 ) . In his testimony before the United States Subcommittee on Capital Markets on 3 June 2002, Robert Herz, the president of the Financial Accounting Standards Board stated ( United States Subcommittee on Capital Markets, 2003 ) :

“Under a principles-based attack, one starts with puting out the cardinal aims of good coverage in the capable country and so provides counsel explicating the aim and associating it to some common illustrations. While regulations are sometimes ineluctable, the purpose is non to seek to supply specific counsel or regulations for every possible state of affairs. Rather, if in uncertainty, the reader is directed back to the principles.”

Shortridge and Myring ( 2004 ) supply an illustration of the conceptual troubles encountered in understanding the niceties entailed in the principles-based accounting methodological analysis when it is required to find an appropriate degree of counsel in item necessary to achieve “… sufficient comparison and consistence in fiscal statements” . They explain that in the foregoing, “A principles-based criterion frequently becomes a rules-based criterion in an attempt to increase comparison and consistency” ( Shortridge and Myring ( 2004 ) . A specific illustration is brought forth under SFAS 133 “Accounting for Derivative and Hedging Activities” ( Shortridge and Myring, 2004 ) . The predating requires all fiscal instruments to be measured at just value, with a cardinal inquiry originating as to the definition of a derivative ( Shortridge and Myring, 2004 ) . The FASB has issued 22 statements supplying extra elucidation on this point, and Shortridge and Myring ( 2004 ) point out that if add-on counsel is non forthcoming from a remarkable beginning so “…numerous steps of just value are potentially justifiable: the inquiring monetary value, the command monetary value, or the norm of the command and inquire prices” . As a consequence, a regulation was added to specify how just value is to be determined. The predating point to the conceptual attacks and differences that are at the root of the convergence of the two systems.


Given the outrageousness of the undertaking of wading through the accounting inside informations present in the FASB and IASB attacks, every bit good as the conceptual differences in attack, Leisening ( 2005 ) advises that while there are many countries in which the attack and item of the IASB and FASB differ, the conceptual models “… are rather similar” . His account that “Both models accept determination utility of information to a wide group of foreigners as the intent of fiscal reporting” is supported by the undermentioned statements from both Boards ( Leisening, 2005 ) :

  1. Under the FASB Concepts Statement on fiscal describing under paragraph 39, it states: “… Financial coverage should supply information to assist investors, creditors, and others assess the sum, timing, and uncertainness of prospective net hard currency influxs to the related enterprise.”
  2. Under the IASB model under paragraph 15, it states “The economic determinations that are taken by users of fiscal statements require an rating of the ability of an entity to bring forth hard currency and hard currency equivalents and the timing and certainty of their generation.”

The cardinal benefit of principles-based accounting is its wide guidelines, which therefore can be applied in varied state of affairss ( Bullen and Crook, 2005 ) . As stated by Shortridge and Myring ( 2004 ) , Fields et Al ( 2001, pp. 260-261 ) , Nelson et Al ( 2002, pp. 175-202 ) , and Robert Merz ( United States Subcommittee on Capital Markets, 2003 ) , the foundations as contained in the IASB and FASB articulate constructs that have a common end, it is the methodological analysis in making the finishs that differs.

Bullen and Crook ( 2005 ) tell us that the FASB Concepts Statement, and the IASB’s Framework provide the footing for a foundation to use principles-based accounting, nevertheless, the demand for particular is besides present. Thus the attendant convergence should stand for a loanblend of both systems, supplying for the use of the principle-based attack as the guiding model, with the rules-based attack stipulating those countries that require elaborate guidelines to extinguish vagueness. In summing up, Sir David Tweedie, the president of the International Accounting Standards Board provides the finish to the convergence attack ( Financial Accounting Standards Board, 2002 ) :

“Many International Financial Reporting Standards ( IFRS ) are similar to U.S. GAAP. Both international criterions and U.S. GAAP strive to be principles-based, in that they both look to a organic structure of accounting constructs. U.S. GAAP tends, on the whole, to be more specific in its demands and includes much more elaborate execution counsel.

We favour an attack that requires the company and its hearer to take a measure back and see whether the accounting suggested is consistent with the underlying rule. This is non a soft option. Our attack requires both companies and their hearers to exert professional judgement in the public involvement. Our attack requires a strong committedness from preparers to fiscal statements that provide a faithful representation of all minutess and a strong committedness from hearers to defy client force per unit areas. It will non work without those committednesss. There will be more single minutess and constructions that are non explicitly addressed. We hope that a clear statement of the implicit in rules will let companies and hearers to cover with those state of affairss without fall backing to detailed rules.”


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