The Importance of Going Concern in Financial Reporting

Cover Image for The Importance of Going Concern in Financial Reporting

| Courtney Price

In the realm of financial reporting, the concept of "Going Concern" plays a pivotal role in shaping the transparency and reliability of financial statements. As we navigate through the complexities of financial disclosures in 2024, it becomes increasingly important for directors, especially those in small businesses with non-financial backgrounds, to grasp the essence of Going Concern assessments.

In Financial Reporting: Topical Issues in 2024, Lindsay Webber and Elaine Jackson delve into the significance of Going Concern in financial reporting, emphasising the need for director education and transparent reporting.

The Essence of Going Concern

At its core, Going Concern is a fundamental accounting principle that assumes a company will continue its operations in the foreseeable future, typically regarded as the next twelve months. This assumption underpins the preparation of financial statements, influencing how assets and liabilities are valued and reported. It's not merely an accounting formality but a critical assessment that reflects on a company's viability and financial health.

Management's Responsibility

The responsibility of assessing whether an entity qualifies as a Going Concern rests primarily with its management. This involves a thorough evaluation of the entity's expected profitability, cash flows, and any potential financial challenges or uncertainties it may face. The degree of uncertainty surrounding the entity's ability to continue as a Going Concern dictates the extent of information required in the disclosures. Even if risks are deemed low, detailed disclosures become crucial when facing ongoing losses or net liabilities.

The Role of Directors

Directors, particularly in smaller enterprises, must understand their role in affirming the Going Concern basis in financial statements. This understanding is vital as they sign off on financial statements based on this premise. The assessment includes examining various factors such as support from group companies, new loans, or turnaround plans that might influence the Going Concern status. For audit-exempt clients, obtaining a letter of representation is strongly encouraged to acknowledge their responsibility regarding Going Concern in the financial statements.

Disclosure Requirements

Consistency in disclosure across the director's report, auditor's report, and financial statements is essential. The amount of detail in Going Concern disclosures varies depending on the level of uncertainty. Material uncertainties require extensive disclosure, often spanning a page or more, while minor uncertainties might only necessitate a brief paragraph. However, there's a growing trend towards more comprehensive Going Concern disclosures, providing users with a clearer understanding of the entity's financial health and the measures taken by directors to address any challenges.

Case Studies and Trends

Recent trends indicate an increase in Going Concern disclosures, underscoring the importance of transparency for users of financial statements. For instance, entities like Microsoft Ireland, with strong cash balances and profitability, still opt to include Going Concern paragraphs in their reports, enhancing user confidence despite low levels of risk. Conversely, companies ceasing operations post-year-end present less uncertainty, requiring minimal disclosure about their discontinuation as a Going Concern.

As we look towards the future of financial reporting, the emphasis on Going Concern assessments and disclosures cannot be overstated. It's imperative for directors to educate themselves on the nuances of Going Concern, ensuring their financial statements accurately reflect the entity's operational continuity and financial stability. By fostering a culture of transparency and accountability, businesses can better navigate the uncertainties of the financial landscape, building trust with investors, creditors, and other stakeholders in the process.

For the full session, please click here. This course covers the following:

  • Going concern
  • Section 27 Impairments
  • Section 29 Income taxes (with a focus on deferred tax)
  • Section 21 Provisions and contingencies
  • Section 10 Accounting policies, estimates and errors.

The contents of this article are meant as a guide only and are not a substitute for professional advice. The author/s accept no responsibility for any action taken, or refrained from, as a result of the material contained in this document. Specific advice should be obtained before acting or refraining from acting, in connection with the matters dealt with in this article.

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About the Author

Courtney Price is a content creator for CPDStore. Courtney joined us during the COVID-19 pandemic and has been involved in the ever-evolving world of accounting ever since. Her passion for reading and writing, coupled with her degree in copywriting from Vega School has allowed her to channel her creativity and expertise into crafting engaging and informative content.


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