Financial statements have incredible importance for both internal and external stakeholders. They basically are a report card for the company. So it is important that they are regulated and do not report misleading information. And the Accounting Standards (AS) provide us with a framework for this regulation. Let us take a look.
Accounting Standards (AS)
Accounting Standards (AS) are basic policy documents. Their main aim is to ensure transparency, reliability, consistency, and comparability of the financial statements. They do so by standardizing accounting policies and principles of a nation/economy. So the transactions of all companies will be recorded in a similar manner if they follow these accounting standards.
These Accounting Standards (AS) are issued by an accounting body or a regulatory board or sometimes by the government directly. In India, the Indian Accounting Standards are issued by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).
Accounting Standards mainly deal with four major issues of accounting, namely
- Recognition of financial events
- Measurement of financial transactions
- Presentation of financial statements in a fair manner
- Disclosure requirement of companies to ensure stakeholders are not misinformed
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Objectives of Accounting Standards
Accounting is often considered the language of business, as it communicates to others the financial position of the company. And like every language has certain syntax and grammar rules the same is true here. These rules in the case of accounting are the Accounting Standards (AS). They are the framework of rules and regulations for accounting and reporting in a country. Let us see the main objectives of forming these standards.
- The main aim is to improve the reliability of financial statements. Now because the financial statements have to be made following the standards the users can rely on them. They know that not conforming to these standards can have serious consequences for the companies.
- Then there is comparability. Following these standards will allow for inter-firm and intra-firm comparisons. This allows us to check the progress of the firm and its position in the market.
- It also looks to provide one set of accounting policies that include the necessary disclosure requirements and the valuation methods of various financial transactions.
Benefits of Accounting Standards
Accounting Standards are the ruling authority in the world of accounting. It makes sure that the information provided to potential investors is not misleading in any way. Let us take a look at the benefits of AS.
1] Attains Uniformity in Accounting
Accounting Standards provides rules for standard treatment and recording of transactions. They even have a standard format for financial statements. These are steps in achieving uniformity in accounting methods.
2] Improves Reliability of Financial Statements
There are many stakeholders of a company and they rely on the financial statements for their information. Many of these stakeholders base their decisions on the data provided by these financial statements. Then there are also potential investors who make their investment decisions based on such financial statements.
So it is essential these statements present a true and fair picture of the financial situation of the company. The Accounting Standards (AS) ensure this. They make sure the statements are reliable and trustworthy.
3] Prevents Frauds and Accounting Manipulations
Accounting Standards (AS) lay down the accounting principles and methodologies that all entities must follow. One outcome of this is that the management of an entity cannot manipulate with financial data. Following these standards is not optional, it is compulsory.
So these standards make it difficult for the management to misrepresent any financial information. It even makes it harder for them to commit any frauds.
4] Assists Auditors
Now the accounting standards lay down all the accounting policies, rules, regulations, etc in a written format. These policies have to be followed. So if an auditor checks that the policies have been correctly followed he can be assured that the financial statements are true and fair.
This is another major objective of accounting standards. Since all entities of the country follow the same set of standards their financial accounts become comparable to some extent. The users of the financial statements can analyze and compare the financial performances of various companies before taking any decisions.
Also, two statements of the same company from different years can be compared. This will show the growth curve of the company to the users.
6] Determining Managerial Accountability
The accounting standards help measure the performance of the management of an entity. It can help measure the management’s ability to increase profitability, maintain the solvency of the firm, and other such important financial duties of the management.
Management also must wisely choose their accounting policies. Constant changes in the accounting policies lead to confusion for the user of these financial statements. Also, the principle of consistency and comparability are lost.
Limitations of Accounting Standards
There are a few limitations of Accounting Standards as well. The regulatory bodies keep updating the standards to restrict these limitations.
1] Difficulty between Choosing Alternatives
There are alternatives for certain accounting treatments or valuations. Like for example, stocks can be valued by LIFO, FIFO, weighted average method, etc. So choosing between these alternatives is a tough decision for the management. The AS does not provide guidelines for the appropriate choice.
2] Restricted Scope
Accounting Standards cannot override the laws or the statutes. They have to be framed within the confines of the laws prevailing at the time. That can limit their scope to provide the best policies for the situation.
Solved Question for You
Q: Accounting Standards can sometimes be restrictive. True or False?
Ans: One of the major disadvantages of accounting standards is that they can be restrictive and inflexible. Each company faces unique situations and financial transactions. But the company must make these situations fit the guidelines of the accounting standards even if they are not the best way to represent the financial event in question.