Accounting is not a language

It has become a cliché to say that accounting is the language of business. That metaphor is helpful because it emphasises that accounting conveys vital information about business. But the metaphor can be unhelpful because, although accounting is a system for conveying information, accounting lacks most features of real human languages, such as Arabic, Chinese,… Continue reading Accounting is not a language

Finding out what users need

To set good accounting standards, standard-setters need to understand deeply how users of financial statements use and process financial information. One very useful report on this topic area was an academic literature review The use of information by capital providers produced in 2013, by a team of 6 academics: Stefano Cascino, Mark Clatworthy, Beatriz García… Continue reading Finding out what users need

3 myths about financial accounting

In describing how finance and accounting differ from each other as disciplines, someone recently made the following 3 statements about accounting: I agree that accounting and financing are different (though related) activities. But I disagree with all 3 of these statements about accounting, particularly as they relate to financial accounting. I suspect these statements are… Continue reading 3 myths about financial accounting

Help for unpacking the objective of financial reporting

Paragraphs 1.2-1.4 of the IASB’s Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting are written so densely that some people do not succeed in unpacking what they say. To make unpacking the meaning of those paragraphs easier, the IASB staff recommended in 2017 that the IASB should add a flowchart to the Conceptual Framework. This post summarises the… Continue reading Help for unpacking the objective of financial reporting

The ‘cash component of revenue’: a dangerous myth?

Some academics and investors often talk about ‘the cash component of revenue’. I understand why they use this shorthand label, but it risks causing misunderstanding. In this post, I examine the following: what is the ‘cash component of revenue’? an accounting identity linking revenue and cash receipts judgement in measuring trade receivables the ‘cash component… Continue reading The ‘cash component of revenue’: a dangerous myth?

Did a dead man write IAS 1?

There is a strange but persistent rumour that IAS 1 Presentation of Financial Statements was written by Sir Henry Benson (later Lord Benson), the first chairman of the IASB’s predecessor, the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC). If true, this would have been a remarkable feat. Benson’s term as IASC chairman finished in 1976 and he… Continue reading Did a dead man write IAS 1?