December 5, 2020

Only 20% of Companies Using Creative Accounting to Its Full Potential

Here's a study (via Broc Romanek) that surveyed 400 CFOs on the misrepresentation of earnings.

It's remarkably unremarkable on a number of points, including that CFOs say the two biggest drivers of earnings manipulation are 1) to influence a company's stock price and 2) pressure to hit earnings targets.

But also, you'll be floored to learn that lots of companies do all this within the confines of GAAP (i.e. it's not technically fraud):  

CFOs believe that in any given year 20% of companies intentionally misrepresent their earnings using discretion within GAAP. The magnitude of the typical misrepresentation is quite material – about 10 cents on every dollar. While most misrepresentation results in the overstatement of earnings, a full one‐third of firms that are misrepresenting are intentionally lowballing their earnings.

Wow. If only 20% of companies are getting the most out of those coveted creative accountants, there must be a lack of talent out there. It's either that or most of you truly hold the spirit of accounting near and dear to your hearts.

CFO Survey: 20% of Companies Distort Earnings Within GAAP [TCC via MW]
 

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