The Problems with Real-Time Reporting
As a result of technological developments, the usefulness of the current financial statements for decision-making is increasingly being questioned. Consequently there have been calls for real-time reporting, with analysts and other interested parties having real-time access to company databases. This paper examines the conceptual underpinnings for real-time reporting which have arisen from the decision-usefulness focus of the financial statements. However, if one questions the appropriateness of the emphasis on decision-usefulness, then the strength of the real-time reporting lobby may not be as overwhelming as it may first appear. Indeed the paper argues that the focus on decision-usefulness may be an example of the financial reporting expectations gap and that real-time reporting may be the ultimate symptom of short-termism in financial reporting. Real-time reporting would have implications for the external auditors and has contributed to the calls for "continuous audit" and "continuous assurance". The paper examines what the external auditors could reasonably be expected to do.
This paper was presented at: Finance and Accounting: Theory and Practice, Development and Trends, Conference Proceedings, University of Latvia, Institutes of Finance and Accounting, Riga, Latvia, 18-19 September 2008, pp.160-171 (ISBN 978-9984-45-106-0).