Comparability & Consistency of Financial Statements

Comparability Principle

You are asked to compare these competitors and determine which company is a better investment. You begin to look over the statements and find glaring differences in how the information is presented.

Comparability Principle

Both negatives and positives should be reported with full transparency and without the expectation of debt compensation. GAAP is used mainly in the U.S., while most other jurisdictions use the IFRS standards.

2 Intercompany comparability of financial performance

GAAP allows changes in accounting principle to be handled prospectively. Given those differences, comparability of net income and retained earnings amounts could differ significantly between financial statements prepared under IAS 8 and those prepared under U.S. All other things being equal, capitalizing an item rather than expensing it as incurred can have a long-term impact on financial statement comparison and analysis of both the balance sheet and income statement. Financial results for identical enterprises will differ each year until a capitalized item is completely amortized. Further, the resulting differences in classification of reported cash flows will never reverse. Unless adequate information is provided to equate two otherwise identical enterprises or to track expensed items over time, it may be difficult to adjust for those differences.

  • That is very different from the allowed alternative treatment (and, consequently, from U.S. GAAP).
  • Additional tests show that other firm characteristics do not explain this result.
  • In this study, it is assumed that all the selected companies ensure compliance with IFRSs as a statutory requirement of ICAB.
  • Even if firms have sound internal controls, accounting comparability would matter less to investors absent financial reporting transparency.
  • Thus, to realize the benefits of comparability, CFOs need to make sure that their firms have solid internal controls over financial reporting.

Many firms raise additional equity financing via follow-on offerings, which often garner skepticism from investors. But, when investors place greater value on earnings as a result of high accounting comparability, firms can raise equity financing at more favorable terms and thereby leave less money on the table. Without the concept of comparability, financial ratios would not exist. You wouldn’t be able to compare two companies’ financial information withratio analysisbecause their financial information wouldn’t be compatible. You could get a rough estimate on the worth of the company, but an accurate comparison wouldn’t exist.

Accounting for Managers

The consistency principle states that business should maintain the same accounting methods or principles throughout the accounting periods, so that users of the financial statements or information are able to make meaningful conclusions from the data. Materiality concept in accounting refers to the concept that all the material items should be reported properly in the financial statements. Material items are considered as those items whose inclusion or exclusion results in significant changes in the decision making for the users of business information. If a financial statement is not prepared using GAAP, investors should be cautious. Without GAAP, comparing financial statements of different companies would be extremely difficult, even within the same industry, making an apples-to-apples comparison hard.

Zambia cancels $1.6bn in Chinese loans as it struggles with debt – Global Construction Review

Zambia cancels $1.6bn in Chinese loans as it struggles with debt.

Posted: Mon, 08 Aug 2022 07:00:00 GMT [source]

Additional tests show that other firm characteristics do not explain this result. We can compare 20X2 financial statements of ExxonMobil with its 20X1 financial statements to know whether performance and position improved or deteriorated. 57 In the absence of specified transition provisions, an enterprise following IASC standards must follow the guidance in IAS 8. For first-time application of IASC standards, an enterprise would also look to the guidance provided in SIC Interpretation 8, First-Time Application of IASs as the Primary Basis of Accounting. After a discussion of the methodology and significant considerations used in undertaking the project, the remaining chapters in this report provide comparative analyses of specific IASC standards and their related U.S. IASC standards provide guidance in the areas of disclosure and accounting for the inventories of service providers. GAAP provides specialized guidance on inventories related to the motion picture, software, and agricultural industries.

Advances in Accounting

Thus, financial statement users should be aware of the potential for comparability issues related to transition and should refer to individual standards to gain a better understanding of specific differences. The significance of the types of differences in the categories described above in any particular case would depend on a number of factors. GAAP-based financial statements, a financial statement user likely would be more concerned about differences in the recognition and measurement of construction contracts when comparing the financial statements of two shipbuilding enterprises, one based on IASC standards and one based on U.S. GAAP, than when comparing the financial statements of two financial institutions, one based on IASC standards and one based on U.S. In addition, the SEC staff has noted inconsistent applications of IAS 22, Business Combinations. The staff has received a number of requests to accept characterizations of business combinations as “unitings of interests” despite IAS 22’s clear intention that uniting of interest accounting be used only in rare and limited circumstances.

Comparability Principle

In contrast, Consistency means the equality in procedure and policies of a company, which enables the user to compare the financial statements of a particular accounting period. A material change in classification occurs when an item is recategorized from one period to another. This change does not require mention in the audit report unless it is also a correction of a material Comparability Principle misstatement or a change in accounting principle. If this is the case, the principles described above should be followed. Timeliness is how quickly information is available to users of accounting information. The less timely , the less useful information is for decision-making. Timeliness matters for accounting information because it competes with other information.

Threats to Comparability & Consistency

The information asymmetry resulting from the agency theory can also describe the financial reporting quality . Sweeney exposed managerial motivation to adapt income increasing accounting policies to inflate reported net income of the firm. Accounting standard setters and regulators seek greater comparability in financial reporting. GAAP has been significantly evolving over the years, but accounting standards are inherently complex.

  • There are less-significant types of differences between IASC standards and U.S.
  • The reliability principle is generally required for publicly traded corporations under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
  • International convergence of accounting standards is not a new idea.
  • Therefore, we are working with other securities regulators around the world to reduce these differences.
  • GAAP has been significantly evolving over the years, but accounting standards are inherently complex.

Initial efforts focused onharmonization—reducing differences among the accounting principles used in major capital markets around the world. By the 1990s, the notion of harmonization was replaced by the concept ofconvergence—the development of a unified set of high-quality, international accounting standards that would be used in at least all major capital markets.


Under U.S. GAAP, those contracts would be measured at fair value unless no market mechanism exists to net settle the contract. Other examples of possible differences in measurement between IASC standards and U.S.

  • Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work.
  • The pandemic has a serious impact on business operations due to many disruptions in the global supply chain.
  • Summary Table 1 is prepared to check intracompany financial reporting consistency, whereas summary Table 2 is prepared to check intercompany comparability of financial reports.
  • GAAP counterpart can create differences in whether, how, and when an item is reported in financial statements.
  • It does not require all companies to adopt the same accounting policies because doing so would impair relevance.

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