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Title: Earnings quality across different reporting regimes: listed, large private, medium-sized, small and micro companies in the UK
Authors: Liu, S
Skerratt, L
Keywords: earnings quality;comparability;reporting regime;switching;audit;SMEs and micro companies
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Emerald
Citation: Liu, S. and Skerratt, L. (2018), 'Earnings quality across different reporting regimes: Listed, large private, medium-sized, small and micro companies in the UK', Journal of Applied Accounting Research, 19 (1), pp. 2-19. doi: 10.1108/JAAR-02-2015-0009.
Abstract: Purpose – Since the UK Companies Act 1981, different reporting standards have developed for different classes of company to reduce the reporting burden on non-listed companies. There are now different regimes for listed, large private, medium sized, small, and micro companies. This strategy raises the issue of whether earnings quality across the different classes of company is comparable. Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses the smoothness of earnings to measure reporting quality across the different types of company from 2006-2013, based on 514,000 observations. Smoothness is an indicator of poor quality. Findings – We find that listed companies have the highest earnings quality, closely followed by small and micro companies. In contrast, large private and medium sized companies have much lower earnings quality. Overall, we find companies which switch between reporting regimes have lower earnings quality. We also find that earnings quality is not affected by the small company exemption from audit. Research limitations/implications –Companies filing abbreviated accounts are excluded since they do not file an income statement. The recent revisions to UK GAAP (FRS102 and FRS105) are not examined due to insufficient data. Practical implications – The Financial Reporting Council’s strategy of reducing the financial reporting and auditing obligations for small companies seems not to have significantly affected earnings quality. However, the FRC may need to review the reporting requirements of large private and medium sized companies and also the option of companies to switch between reporting regimes; in these settings earnings quality appears to be weaker. Originality/value – The paper studies the effect of earnings quality across the different reporting regimes in the UK. Novel and important features of the study are that (i) the sample covers a wide variety of small and micro companies which have not been analysed previously, (ii) the results are disaggregated by year, for assurance that the results are not driven by a single rogue year, and (iii) we also address the small company exemption from audit, and the flexibility of non-listed companies to switch between regimes.
ISSN: 0967-5426
Appears in Collections:Brunel Business School Research Papers

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