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Conservatism Concept

Last updated date: 27th Feb 2024
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The Concept in Accounting Conservatism

Accounting conservatism is the set of bookkeeping guidelines that call for a high degree of verification. This is done before a company can legally claim any profit in its name. The general concept of conservatism is able to factor in the worst-case scenario, keeping in view a firm’s financial future. These uncertain liabilities are to be recognized, soon after their discovery. While in an even worst-case scenario they are recorded when they are only assured of receiving it. 

We will know further about this amazing concept of conservatism. 

Principle Accounting Conservation 

The conservatism principle works as a general concept of recognizing the expenses and the liabilities sooner, while revenues and the assets are only recognized when they are received. So, with a given choice between the several outcomes in which the probabilities of the occurrence are equally likely, one must recognize that the transaction results in a lower amount of profit, or even the deferral of a profit. While a choice of outcomes with similar probabilities of occurrence will impact the value of an asset, that is recognized in the transaction which results in a lower recorded asset valuation.

How Does Accounting Conservatism Work?

The GAAP has insisted on the number of accounting conventions that are required to be followed to ensure that these companies report their financials as appropriately as possible. Among other principles, this includes conservatism, which requires the accountants to show caution, who are opting for solutions that reflect favourably on a company’s bottom line is uncertain situations.  

The Accounting Conservatism does not manipulate the dollar amount or the timing of the reporting in the financial figures. This is a method of accounting that provides guidance when uncertainty occurs and the need for such estimation arises.

Accounting conservatism establishes the rules which are used when deciding between the two financial reporting alternatives. If an accountant has two solutions in hand, he is required to choose one that yields inferior numbers. 

A more cautious approach represents the company in a worst-case scenario. The assets and the revenue are intentionally being reported at figures that are moreover understated. While, the liabilities and the expenses, on the other hand, are thus overstated. If there is uncertainty about incurring a loss, the accountants are mandated to record it and then amplify its potential impact. In contrast to this, if there is a probability of gain coming in the company's way, the accountants are advised to ignore it until the gain occurs.

Using Accounting Conservatism

The Accounting Conservatism is to be applied in the valuation of inventory. While determining the reporting value for inventory, the principle of conservatism dictates the lower of the historical cost or the replacement cost of a monetary value.

Other estimations like uncollectible account receivables and casual losses also ground in this principle. If a company expects to win, it cannot simply report the gain until and unless it meets all its revenue recognition principles. 

Advantages of Accounting Conservatism

Understating the gains and thereby overstating the losses means that accounting conservatism will always report low net income. Thus, lower financial future benefits.

Also, this concept encourages management to exercise greater care in its decision-making. This also means that there is a lot more scope for positive surprises, rather than disappointing upsets, which are the big drivers of the share prices. Like all standardized methodologies, these rules ought to make it easier for the investors to compare the financial results across different industries in particular periods.

Disadvantages of Accounting Conservatism

On the contrary side, the GAAP rules like accounting conservatism can welcome interpretation. This means that there will be some companies who will always find their ways to manipulate these concepts to their advantage.

Another issue with this accounting conservatism is that the potential for revenue shifting increases. If a transaction fails to meet the requirements that are to be reported, it must be reported in the period that follows. This will result in the current period being understated and the future periods remaining as overstated, this will be a problem for an organization to track business operations internally. 

FAQs on Conservatism Concept

1. Explain Uncertain Liabilities.

Ans. Uncertain Liability is also known as a contingent liability, which is a liability that occurs depending on the result of a future event, which is typically uncertain. This contingent liability is recorded if the contingency is likely to happen and the amount of the liability can be reasonably estimated before-hand.

A contingent liability is a type of liability or normally calculated as a potential loss that might occur in the coming future. Potential lawsuits, product warranties, and other pending investigations are few examples of contingent liability.

All qualifying contingent liabilities are recorded as an expense on the income statement and as a liability on the balance sheet. If the contingent loss is too remote, which means it has less than a 50% chance of occurring, then the liability should not be presented on the balance sheet.

2. What are Accounting Conventions?

Ans. Accounting conventions are the guidelines that are used to help the companies to determine to record certain business transactions which have not yet been fully addressed by the accounting standards. Accounting procedures and principles are not legally binding but they are generally accepted by the accounting bodies.

Accounting concepts are the fundamental accounting assumptions that act as a foundation for recording business transactions and prepare the final accounts. On the other hand, the accounting conventions are the methods and procedures which got universal acceptance.

3. How are Revenues Recorded?

Ans. By following the Accounting conservatism, this is the most stringent in relation to revenue reporting. This requires that the revenues are being reported in the same period as they are related to the expenses which were incurred. All the information in a transaction is to be realized and recorded. If this transaction will not result in the exchange of cash or claims to an asset, there will be no revenue that is to be recognized. The dollar amount is known to be then reported.