Title: In search of the invisible user of financial statements and his information needs. The (non)sense of different standards for listed and non-listed companies

Authors: Vicky Cole; Joël Branson; Diane Breesch

Addresses: Department of Accounting, Auditing and Corporate Finance, Solvay Business School, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel, Belgium. ' Department of Accounting, Auditing and Corporate Finance, Solvay Business School, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel, Belgium. ' Department of Accounting, Auditing and Corporate Finance, Solvay Business School, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussel, Belgium

Abstract: In more than 100 countries, listed companies prepare their financial statements using IFRS. For non-listed companies, the situation is less harmonised. One of the arguments in favour of this distinct approach is that financial statements of listed and non-listed companies attract different users. Empirical evidence to back up this assumption is, however, rare. This article contributes by empirically exploring whether this assumption is true based on a survey of 849 individuals. We found that users of financial statements of listed and non-listed companies differ in their reasons for using financial statements (professional or private), in their profession, in their experience and in their viewpoint (e.g., suppliers, investors, …). They also differ in the number of countries they are interested in and in the degree of detail they require. The different users are, however, interested in the same type of information. Furthermore, many users are interested in both types of company.

Keywords: financial statements; information needs; accounting standards; listed companies; non-listed companies; user survey; IFRS.

DOI: 10.1504/IJAAPE.2012.043963

International Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Performance Evaluation, 2012 Vol.8 No.1, pp.1 - 23

Available online: 21 Nov 2011 *

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