Qualitative Characteristics Of Accounting Information

qualitative characteristics definition

Faithful representation means that the numbers and descriptions match what really existed or happened. Faithful representation is a necessity because most users have neither the time nor the expertise to evaluate the factual content of the information. For example, ifGeneral Motors‘ income statement reports sales of $180,300 million when it had sales of $155,399 million, then the statement fails to faithfully represent the proper sales amount. To be a faithful representation, information must be complete, neutral, and free of material error. Since decision-making for a company often involves professionals outside of the accounting department, such as managerial professionals, it’s important that financial reports are easy to understand. Understandability is the measure of how easily an individual can comprehend a company’s financial report or accounting information.

qualitative characteristics definition

If the information isn’t verifiable, then the company knows to rework its financial report and perform calculations again. Qualitative characteristics of accounting information are traits that allow financial professionals to more easily understand and make decisions on accounting reports.

Qualitative Characteristics Of Useful Financial Information

All these things are the same today as they were in Shakespeare’s time, and because of that, his stories are still very relevant to us. An item is not recorded because its effect on income would not change a decision. A children’s toy company wants to understand how it can improve its sales within the next year. To ensure reliability, check that the information you have extracted is complete, neutral and free from error. You can either conduct this step yourself or have external accountants ensure that the information is accurate and error-free.

The study examined the perception of Nigerian accountants on the quality of financial reporting and the use of qualitative characteristics in the measurement QuickBooks of financial reporting quality. The objective was to demonstrate how the qualitative characteristics, as defined by the IASB can be operationalised.

qualitative characteristics definition

Now, the company’s accounting team compares their cash flow statement to previous cash flow statements to help them determine any trends that may help them improve sales. They can also add new financial information they receive in a timely manner while they make decisions.

In making decisions, users also should review and analyze the information with reasonable diligence. Information that is relevant and faithfully represented should not be excluded from financial reports solely because it is too complex or difficult for some users to understand without assistance. Comparability is the degree to which accounting standards and policies are consistently applied from one period to another. Financial statements that are comparable, with consistent accounting standards and policies applied throughout each accounting period, enable users to draw insightful conclusions about the trends and performance of the company over time. In addition, comparability also refers to the ability to easily compare a company’s financial statements with those of other companies. Preparers should present information in the most understandable manner without sacrificing relevance or reliability.

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Often both the nature and magnitude of financial information will be important ingredients in relevance . Relevance of accounting information means it should help the user of information with their decision making process. The presentation of accounting information should be simple and understandable for the users of the information. It is important that all the data is clear and concise, it can be easily understood by everyone including parties who are not from the accounting background. Because the IASC framework simply states its conventions, the reader is often left to interpret why a certain objective or characteristic was chosen. Documenting and understanding the existing differences between individual IAS and FASB standards is important.

  • Verifiability is “the ability through consensus among measurers to ensure that information represents what it purports to represent or that the chosen method of measurement has been used without error or bias” .
  • The value of inter-company comparisons is substantially reduced when material differences in income are caused by variations in accounting practices.
  • A lender or investor who looks at your accounting numbers will want to place your financial information into context to evaluate its trustworthiness.
  • 120 copies of structured questionnaire, designed in accordance with the underneath attributes of the qualitative characteristics, were distributed to professional accountants in three major cities in Nigeria.
  • In general, the accounts should truthfully represent the business’s financial picture.

A study conducted by Vickrey finds that FASB’s approach to the development of NIQs seems to be based more on a working knowledge of decision-making in the empirical setting and intuition than on a rigorous economic analysis. There have been tendencies in accounting for “the media to become the message”, i.e., for accounting numbers to become the reality rather than the underlying facts they represent. These tendencies appear through devices to smooth income such as too early recognition of income, deferral of expenses, and use of reserves. For example, it may sometimes be desirable to sacrifice precision for timeliness, for an approximation produced quickly is often more useful than precise information that is reported after a longer delay. General purpose financial reports shall be presented on a timely basis and in a manner which satisfies the concepts of comparability and understandability. A major difficulty facing preparers, auditors, standard-setters and others is whether the cost of providing certain financial information exceeds the benefits to be derived from its provision.

Ensure that the information you extract is relevant to the information you want to predict. For example, if you want to predict future tax information, you can search for previous tax information from past financial records and analyze trends. Functions of Accounting are; control of financial policy and formation of planning, preparation of the budget, cost control, Evaluation of employees’ performance, Prevention of errors and frauds.

Qualitative Characteristics Of Accounting Information Example

In meeting this objective, it may not always be possible to report complex transactions and events in simple or simplified terms. It should be borne in mind that professional advice can be obtained by the users of general purpose financial reports. It is not sufficient that financial information online bookkeeping is relevant and reliable at a particular time, in a particular circumstance or for a particular reporting entity. The users of general purpose financial reports need to be able to compare aspects of an entity at one time and over time, and between entities at one time and over time.

For financial information to be of any use to investors, creditors, and other stakeholders, it must exhibit certain required and desired attributes. To complete the process, compare the information to similar information from a different financial period. While doing this, try to recognize any trends and evaluate overall financial performance so you can form an accurate prediction of future financial periods. Comparability can also refer to a company’s ability to compare its financial statements to its competitors.

qualitative characteristics definition

For example, ifDellwaited to report its interim results until nine months after the period, the information would be much less useful for decision-making purposes. To have relevance, accounting information must be capable of making a difference in a decision. Financial information is capable of making a difference when it has predictive value, confirmatory what are retained earnings value, or both. Five characteristics of high quality information are accuracy, completeness, consistency, uniqueness, and timeliness. The information that is input into a data base is presumed to be perfect as well as accurate. Extracting relevant information from previous financial statements can help you predict future financial outcomes.

Minimum recognition criteria need to be met before assets, liabilities or other elements can be recognised in the financial statements. However, this does not preclude presentation of financial information which is subject to material uncertainties in the notes or supplementary schedules to those financial statements. The manner of presenting such information can ensure that users do not place undue reliance on it. In other words, if there qualitative characteristics definition is faithful representation of information, including the uncertainties surrounding it, it may be possible for it to be regarded as being reliable. Verifiability lends credibility to financial information by providing assurance that information faithfully represents what it purports to represent. Timeliness means that information is available to investors, lenders and other creditors in time to be used in their decision making processes.


GAAP. The IASC framework devotes a section to the financial and physical capital maintenance concepts, specifying that the enterprise should select the appropriate concept of capital based on the needs of financial statement users. SFAC 6 defines comprehensive income as “the change in equity of a business enterprise during a period from transactions and other events and circumstances from nonowner sources.” Issued in 1997, SFAS 130 requires the reporting of comprehensive income. The financial statements are published to address the shareholders of the company. So it is important that these statements must be prepared in such a way that is easy to understand and interpret for the shareholders. For the sake of understandability, the management must consider not only the statutory data and information but also the voluntary information disclosures which would make financial statements easier to understand. The directors must elaborate the information provided in the statements where necessary.

What Is An Enhancing Qualitative Characteristic?

Materiality is the quality of financial information which makes its omission or misstatement significant enough to impact the decisions that users make through reliance on the information. Materiality acts as a filter on relevant information such that relevant information is useful only when it is material. Qualitative characteristics of accounting information are important because they assist business professionals in understanding and using the information found in accounting reports. These characteristics provide explanations for the numbers in accounting reports and show professionals how to use them to make decisions and predict future financial outcomes. In accounting the qualitative characteristics include relevance, reliability, comparability, and consistency. Qualitative characteristics are discussed in the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s Statement of Financial Accounting Concepts No. 2. A lender or investor who looks at your accounting numbers will want to place your financial information into context to evaluate its trustworthiness.

Relevance and faithful representation are categorized as the fundamental qualitative characteristics of financial reporting information. The enhancing qualitative characteristics on the other hand include understandability, comparability, verifiability and timeliness). Another study looked at the development of the stock market in Poland; it found positive effects associated with Poland joining the EU but no specific effect attributable to the IFRS. Interestingly, member states maintain a large degree of independence in setting national accounting standards for companies that prefer to stay local. Materiality is said to be one of the pervasive constraint on financial reporting because it attribute to all the qualitative characteristics.

But in order to have gain in relevance that comes with increased timeliness, it may involve sacrifices of other desirable characteristics of information, and as a result there may be an overall gain or loss in usefulness. A neutral choice between accounting alternatives is free from bias towards a predetermined result. The objectives of financial reporting serve many different information users who have diverse interests, and no one predetermined result is likely to suit all users’ interests and purposes. Qualitative characteristics or qualities necessary for information serve a major supporting role in the decision usefulness, decision model approach to accounting theory.

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