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Compare and contrast the two measurement bases using examples from different companies and international accounting standards.
The revised Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting (Conceptual Framework) issued in March 2018 is effective immediately for the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Additionally, the revised Conceptual Framework included a new chapter, being chapter 6, which included measurement and its two bases being historical cost and fair value. Measurement is the process of determining the monetary amounts at which the elements of the financial statements are to be recognised and accrued in the balance sheet and the income statement (IFRS Foundation, 2010). Furthermore, this essay will explore the two measurement bases in detail as well as implementing real life examples of how global companies utilise these measurement bases as factors when considering including it within their respective financial statements and its impact. Finally, this essay will then conclude by outlining which measurement base is more efficient in its utilisation within financial statements for effective and efficient viewing.
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Firstly, many of the leading companies around the world intend to publish their respective financial statements, on an annually/quarterly basis, in order for effective use. It can then be considered that both the measurement bases being historical cost and current value are therefore not ‘mutually exclusive’ and instead both concepts are mainly ‘complementary’ both having their respective strengths and weaknesses [Deaconou A, 2004]. The First element being historical cost which measures use information derived from the transaction or event that created the element [Maynard, J. (2017). Financial accounting, reporting & analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p80]. Some of the companies which will be discussed within the essay that implement historical cost will be Lego and Mercedes which are well renowned global companies.
On the other hand, another measurement base which companies may consider when structuring their financial statements is current value also known as ‘fair value’ main purpose is to measure the use of information that is updated to reflect the conditions at the measurement date and incorporate both positive and negative changes [Maynard, J. (2017). Financial accounting, reporting & analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p81]. Alongside, current value the companies which will be discussed are Microsoft and Hugo Boss where they employ fair value as their stronger form of measurement in regards to their financial assets. Alternatively, many companies around the world also use their own respective measurement bases to effectively measure liabilities alongside assets. However, for the purpose of this essay it will only concentrate on the measurement of assets rather than liabilities.
One of the companies which prioritise historical cost is Lego. According to Lego (annual reports 2017) their consolidated financial statements have been prepared in accordance with the historical cost convention. Furthermore, Lego is regulated by the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) only recently in 2015 which is line with the Conceptual framework further insinuating the approach of the regulation which is principle based. One of the possible reasoning’s for Lego (2017) to base the majority of their financial assets, within their financial statements, could be solely down to the reliability of historical cost. This is due to the acquisition of the non – current assets being made a reliable transaction as it is documented through receipts, invoices and contracts in order for further proof and evidence of its purchase, thus solidifying its verifiability. Due to this it then indicates that annual reports are not misleading towards the financial market as the figures stated are genuine. Contrastingly, this is further enhanced through the recent tragic incident regarding ‘Alton Towers’ where some of the public were injured in a ride due to some maintenance issues which caused the accident. The costs of the damages were not anticipated to be included the following year’s annual reports. This then depicts how the annual reports may be misleading to potential investors, lenders and the public thus undermining the credibility and illustrating the financial statements as not being faithfully represented as this then depicts the liability on the part of Merlin Entertainments.
Additionally, another argument made could be that many companies refer to historical cost as part of their financial assets could be solely down to a lack of data manipulation as there will always be a foundation for the respective business transaction. Another possible reasoning for companies such as ‘Lego’ for settling with historical cost as their main measurement base for their financial assets could potentially be down to companies utilising their financial assets in order to produce goods and services for the benefit of customers. This is further reinforced through Hoogervosrt  who supports this claim by stating that it may be in the interest of companies to ‘combine assets’ for customer usage which may illustrate the significance of historical cost and its distinction. Another company which favours historical cost within its annual reports is Mercedes (annual reports 2017). According to Mercedes (2017), the accounting standards to which they adhere to are the (Accounting standards)?
On the other hand, it could possibly be argued that historical cost as a measurement base also has its drawbacks especially the fact that the acquisition cost of a certain asset does become slightly outdated over the years. Moreover, the repercussion of measuring assets through the use of historical cost is that it then ultimately leads the cost being overstated whereas depreciation on the other hand is then understated.
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On the contrary according to Microsoft (annual reports 2018) they have specifically indicated that they account for certain assets as well as liabilities at fair value. Moreover, Microsoft are regulated by the financial accounting standard board which is US GAAP which enhances how the regulation has more of a rule – based approach rather than principle based which would be of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). In support of Microsoft opting to utilise their assets at fair value it can be argued that at current value it is an efficient and effective method of comparability between different companies as an effective measure of comparing and contrasting the company’s financial assets with another business in order to gain a competitive edge
Similarly, Hugo Boss (2017) also account their major assets at fair value whilst their other assets may be recorded through historical cost. T
Contrastingly, it could also be argued that fair value also has its weaknesses too. Firstly, the value of the asset can become unreliable and irrelevant if the PPE were never to be sold. Likewise, fair value’s credibility can be further enhanced through the use of creative accounting as current value mostly has the tendency in order for companies to gain an advantage in terms of publishing their respective annual reports due to misleading figures and profits. This is further supported by a recent event in which a major company being Tesco misinterpreted their figures in the financial statements as they initially overstated their profits for the accounting period by approximately £263 million Kukreja & Gupta .
To conclude, this essay has explored the basic concept of both the measurement bases in detail being historical cost and current value. Additionally, outlining some of the major companies around the world and analysing their preferred choice of measurement regarding their respective financial assets as well as discussing the benefits and the drawbacks of each. Additionally, it can be argued that for some of the major companies it would be beneficial for them to utilise historical cost as a measurement basis for their financial assets whereas others may want to operate with fair value. This essay has also in one way or another examined which companies are regulated in regards to the financial accounting standards. From the following essay it is then clear that both measurement bases are reliable in their own way thus the majority of worldwide companies employ both bases of measurement in regards to its financial assets and liabilities reinforcing the significance of both historical cost and fair value.
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