Evaluating the impact of changes in accounting standards : the South African case
The journey towards uniformity in financial reporting is challenged by the many changes and amendments made to accounting standards. In its development, accounting has made a number of changes to prevent the gaps and conflicts that have arisen amongst the various users of financial information. In fact, the accounting structure has been called an ever-changing collection of rules and regulations. With the globalisation of accounting standards, it is expected that the adoption of accounting standards will be applied consistently to provide reliability and relevance to investors and users of financial statements listed on capital markets. While a single set of standards ensure global comparability of financial statements, the changes to the accounting standards may affect a number of companies’ day-to-day functions or even impact the reported profitability of the business itself. The objective of this study is to consider the incidences of adoption and/or amendments in accounting standards in the financial information disclosed by South African companies. The changes disclosed in accounting policies notes may be significantly influenced by the implementation of new accounting standards, interpretations, and amendments as issued by the IASB. The question to be asked is whether the numerous changes made annually to the financial standards do not negate the application and comparability of the financial statements. This study is presented as a content analysis of the accounting notes presented in the financial statements of the top 40 listed South African companies. A simplified statistical assessment of the content analysis addresses the objective of the study by analysing the information and details regarding the adoption of new standards and the amendment of standards as disclosed by entities. The study leads to recommendations for further study to investigate the comparability of an entity’s financial information year on year in the light of the adoption of amendments and improvements to the standards.