The auditors’ report letter represents a formal opinion, qualification, or disclaimer as to the veracity and “material fairness” of the contents and summaries which follow. The opinion letter provides assurance and comfort that data/information included was examined in accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS) and presented in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). These are “terms of arts” and have specific meaning within the vast array of the users of the reporting as well as within the accounting profession itself. Accounting is clearly an “integrity profession” where firm and staff reputations reign paramount.
With all that has happened (and is happening) within the business, financial, and investment world; the release of the 2007 reports will receive more than the usual scrutiny. Was the auditors’ opinion letter unqualified – indicating “a clean bill of health?”Was it qualified as in “subject to” or except for” - indicating specifically identified problems or issues pending further resolution? Was it qualified as to the “going concern” of the entity for another year? Or... was it “adversely written” that the financial information SHOULD NOT BE taken at face? This last option is RARELY issued.
In times of uncertainties and rapidly moving developments, the notes to the financials take on added significance. This is particularly true for pending litigation and other known contingencies. Such are generally covered in separately noted explanations where outcomes are either described as “reasonably possible, probable, or remote.” These projected outcomes are very important as they forewarn the readers/ users about possible impact. Coming media coverage should prove interesting!
Certain events and industries now find themselves under the microscope of public scrutiny. They make the NEWS and are the fodder in the reporting of it. This is as it should be in a free and open society. Timely and complete reporting is essential in these times of change and/or looming crisis. The public has the right to know and the media has the obligation to inform them. TH*NK of the NEWS as coming from all directions - North, East, West, and South... hence, the NEWS!
I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.
Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.
This story was published on March 25, 2008.