Question 1 (a) Financial reporting standards can be regarded as being principles based or rule based.

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Question 1

(a) Financial reporting standards can be regarded as being principles based or rule based. Critically evaluate the differences between these two approaches and justify which approach you believe is better.                                                     (15 marks)


‘Since 2006, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) has held decision-usefulness to be the primary objective of financial reporting. Many constituents have consistently called for stewardship/accountability to be a second objective. Due to strong lobbying, IASB has amended the objectives of financial reporting by increasing the prominence of stewardship which is favoured by many European constituents.’

Source: Cordery, C. and Sinclair, R. (2016). Decision-Usefulness and Stewardship As Conceptual Framework Objectives: Continuing Challenges. SSRN Electronic Journal.


Critically evaluate the challenges on having two concepts of stewardship and decision-relevance as the objectives of financial reporting.​​​​    (15 marks)


IFRS adoption resulted in significant changes in the way how companies register their financial results (Muller, Riedl, & Sellhorn, 2008), causing a true “silent revolution” in accounting statements, by advocating for an increased use of fair value. The IASB refers to fair value measurement in many of its standards, either on a mandatory basis, as in the case of financial instruments (IFRS 9), biological assets (IAS 41), and share-based payment (IFRS 2); or on an optional basis, as in the case of subsequent measurement of non-current assets (IAS 16), intangible assets (IAS 38), and investment property (IAS 40).

Despite the advances achieved by the IASB, many IFRS allow a certain degree of flexibility in the choice of accounting practices concerning the recognition, measurement, and disclosure in financial reports (Murcia & Werges, 2011). The flexibility observed in the IFRS, in turn, leads to the so-called accounting choices. The latter refer to the selection of an accounting method instead of another equally valid one (Watts, 1992). The existence of accounting choices may lead managers to choose accounting methods that best represent their particular interests (Fields, Lys, & Vincent, 2001), and this could impact comparability. Thus, in addition to calculating comparability, research has sought to find the potential motivations that provided managers’ accounting choices with a basis (Demaria & Dufour, 2007; Christensen & Nikolaev, 2013; Taplin, Yuan, & Brown, 2014).

Source: de Souza, F, & Lemes, S 2016, ‘Comparability of Accounting Choices in Subsequent Measurement of Fixed Assets, Intangible Assets, and Investment Property in South American Companies’, Revista Contabilidade & Finanças – USP, 27, 71, pp. 169-184, Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 29 May 2018.


Critically evaluate whether the adoption of IFRS can be associated with an increase in comparability.                                                        (20 marks)


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