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Subject 3. Context for Assessing Financial Reporting Quality PDF Download
Motivations for managers to issue less than high quality financial reports:

  • Mask poor performance
  • Boost stock price
  • Improve incentive compensation
  • Meet debt covenants

Management might have an incentive to manipulate earnings lower as well, possibly to smooth higher earnings in the current quarter into weaker quarters.

Conditions conductive to issuing low-quality financial reports:

  • Opportunity is generally provided through weaknesses in internal controls.
  • Motivation can be imposed due to personal financial problems or unrealistic deadlines and performance goals.
  • Rationalization occurs when an individual develops a justification for fraudulent activities.

Mechanisms that discipline financial reporting quality:

  • The free market. A company seeking to minimize its long-term cost of capital should aim to provide high-quality financial reports.
  • Enforcement by market regulatory authorities, which plays a central role in encouraging high-quality financial reporting.
  • Auditors. An audit is intended to provide assurance that a company's financial reports are presented fairly. There are, however, inherent limitations. Auditors are only able to offer "reasonable assurance" of the truth and fairness of financial statements rather than absolute assurance.
  • Private contracts. External parties such as lenders and investors are motivated to ensure the quality of financial reports is high.

Learning Outcome Statements

d. describe motivations that might cause management to issue financial reports that are not high quality;

e. describe conditions that are conducive to issuing low-quality, or even fraudulent, financial reports;

f. describe mechanisms that discipline financial reporting quality and the potential limitations of those mechanisms;

CFA® Level I Curriculum, 2020, Volume 3, Reading 29

User Contributed Comments 4

User Comment
chcarnes I love how concisely this is presented
Lambo83 me too
Kiniry Opportunity, motivation, and rationalization form the triangle of fraud.
sshetty2 Conditions conducive to issuing low-quality financial reports**
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I am using your study notes and I know of at least 5 other friends of mine who used it and passed the exam last Dec. Keep up your great work!


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