這是我們2017年為加拿大多倫多北郊的約克大學的客戶創作的一篇關於accounting theory 的essay，以Role of conceptual framework for financial accounting為題，全文1500字，開頭首先介紹相關背景，以introduction的形式讓讀者明白本文的主要作用。
According to IASB (2015), conceptual framework is a system of interconnected objectives and principles. The aim of financial reporting is identified by the objectives and the principles provide guidelines of how to achieve those objectives. Besides, those consistent concepts also help to develop new accounting standards and evaluate those existing standards in practice. Financial reporting , defined by CIMA (2005), is the process to categories and record entities’ monetary transactions by producing balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements and statement of shareholder’s equity flowing . It presents and demonstrates the financial situations to both internal and external stakeholders to assist decision-making. In this essay, I am going to argue that conceptual framework is an essential and practical tool to assist financial reporting by firstly explaining why such a frame work is developed and how it can assist financial reporting. Secondly, I will illustrate other roles, such as providing guidelines to solve complex reporting issues, limiting and assists stakeholders to understand accounting standard, of conceptual framework for financial accounting.
Accounting, a powerful profession that regulated by bodies such as IFRS and IASB, is often regarded as objective and neutral by users of its production. It is deemed merely as a simple reflection of both qualitative and quantitative information of a company. However, “The accountant is the true economist”, said by Proudhon (1846), critical accountant nowadays view that accounting is not neutral or objective. It can be influenced and also be affected by social and economic structure (barker and Bettner, 1997). In this essay, I am going to argue that although some regard accounting as a neutral and objective, accounting is a social science and it is inevitably affected by different social factors, and the limitations in accounting professions itself also make it impossible to be absolutely objective and neutral.
In 1990, Tony Tinker argues and David Solomons argued that accounting was just, neutral and unbiased technology to represent true situation of an entity. Objectivity requires numbers produced in financial statements can be evidence by verifiable sources, for example invoices and receipt that verifies the transactions recorded in the financial statements. From the above questions, we can know that the conceptual frame work and accounting standards provide comprehensive concepts and guidelines for accounting activities (FASB, 2016). However, these can insure that a quality financial statements be produced according to the principles, but those standards set were affected by social and economic structure at the very beginning. Hence the accounting information is fundamentally not neutral, as argues by Donald, all the words, signs and language are interconnected and have a causal relationship to the world.
On the one hand, Tinker argued that accounting statements are composed artificially and are subjective. Morgan (1988) also agues that ‘Objectivity in accounting is largely a myth’. And how accounting professionals can deal with various scenarios using different accounting methods. Different methods of measurement will be chosen based on the focus of account producer and this will result in different valuation and hence different financial consequences. For example, historical cost is used for stewardship purpose when the focus is on current shareholder, and the fair value is used when the focus is on potential investors (Whittington, 2008). This has resulted the emergence of Positive accounting theory (PAT), which management choose accounting methods based on their own interest and choose accounting standards that can increase profits (Watts and Zimmermann, 1978). What is more, there is a great extent of subjectivity in Management accounting which design matrices for business performance measurement (Christopher, 2003. For example, if the performance of salesperson was to be measured, the accountant may primarily focus on sales revenue rather than inputs.
To conclude, according to Searle, that judgement of objectivity or subjectivity are a "matter of degree" (Searle, 1995). That is to say, there is a fraction of subjectivity in information as not all is absolutely neutral or objective, especially in the case of accounting from the reasons discussed above.