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Perceptions of the true and fair view concept: an empirical investigation

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If major groups of financial reporting participants differ in their perceptions of standards for financial reporting quality, such as ‘true and fair view’, ‘present fairly’ and ‘fair presentation’, a financial reporting expectation gap may occur. This article reports the results of a survey designed to explore this potential gap by determining New Zealand financial directors’, auditors’ and shareholders’ perceptions of terms associated with financial reporting quality.

The results show that a clear majority of all three groups share similar perceptions of the ‘true and fair view’; but perceive ‘true and fair view’ to be quite different from ‘fairly presents’ and ‘fair presentation’, terms the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants’ (2005) describes as equivalent to ‘true and fair view’. Thus there appears to be a perception gap between the respondents surveyed and the Institute. The findings also support a literal rather than a technical interpretation of ‘true and fair view’; that respondents do not perceive ‘true and fair view’ as compliance with GAAP; and that ‘true’ (‘truth’ in accounting), the word separating ‘true and fair view’ from terms that include only ‘fair’, may be perceived as a key factor required for financial reporting quality.
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Keywords: Expectations gap; Fair presentation; Fairly reflects; Financial reporting; GAAP; True and fair view; perceptions

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Accountancy, College of Business, Massey University

Publication date: 2006-06-01

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