What is Earnings Management?
Earnings management refers to deliberate intercession by the management in the process of reporting to deceive the stakeholders on the company’s economic & financial position, or with the personal intention to gain income from contracts with these manipulated financial reports.
The financial manager or management of a company chooses to exhibit only things in their financial reports which project their company in good status in view to gain profit from that. Earnings management is a bad thing as most of the calculation of profitCalculation Of ProfitThe profit formula evaluates the net gain or loss of an organization in a particular accounting period. It is computed as the difference between the total sales revenue and the overall expenses incurred by the company. showed in the reports will be either fake or prepared based on uncertain future judgments.
There are many types of earnings management based on the size of the company and its financial status; commonly used models are as below:
#1 – Cookie Jar Reserves
Cookie jar reserves come under the technique of aggressive accounting as it deals with creating a significant reserve in the profit year and drawing down when the company faces a bad year or bad debts can be underestimated in a year to show the company is making a profit.
#2 – The Big Bath
When a company is facing a bad period due to external factors it will affect its profit, it has to show it in their reports, but the company will make it even worse by writing off all bad debts, overvaluation of assets depreciation, restructuring costsRestructuring CostsRestructuring Cost is the one-time expense incurred by the company in the process of reorganizing its business operations. It is done to improve the long term profitability and working efficiency. This expenditure is treated as the non-operating expenses in the financial statements., other expenses in the same year to show more loss and evade tax.
#3 – Expense and Revenue Recognition
It can also be called “Income Smoothing” This comes under fraudulent accounting as the company records its expenses before it incurs or not showing the profit, sales when earns. They can even accelerate the sales showing extra revenue, or they don’t recognize a bad debtBad DebtBad Debts can be described as unforeseen loss incurred by a business organization on account of non-fulfillment of agreed terms and conditions on account of sale of goods or services or repayment of any loan or other obligation. in the current year and shifts it to next year as it reduces this year’s profit.
Earnings Management Examples
Let’s consider if a company is having $20,000 as bad debts and it is not recoverable, so it has to be written off during this financial year, but the financial manager says to show $10,000 as debtors and write offWrite OffWrite off is the reduction in the value of the assets that were present in the books of accounts of the company on a particular period of time and are recorded as the accounting expense against the payment not received or the losses on the assets. the balance in next financial year as this year profit is low. This comes under the type of expense and revenue recognition as expense in not recognized correctly to inflate profit.
The market is not stable due to external factors like high pricing low demand etc. a company can face loss. The CEO of the company asks to show all the losses in the same year like unrecoverable debts, depreciation, high reserve, etc. as already the company is in a loss. So that the next financial year will be profitable, this is an example of The BIG BATHBIG BATHBig Bath is a manipulative accounting in the books of accounts where the company manipulates the income in a bad year by degrading the income further, reporting even more loss than it is so that the upcoming period or year looks better and makes future results look good and attractive. type of earnings management.
Earnings Management Techniques
There are three types of techniques in earnings management they are;
- Aggressive & Abusive Accounting – This refers to the aggressive escalation of sales or revenue recognition. Abusive accounting includes cookie jar, big bath, etc., to show there is a high profit that year.
- Conservative Accounting – Conservative accounting refers to writing off all the expenses and losses in the same year if the company is made a high profit and to evade tax.
- Fraudulent Accounting – If revenue, losses are not shown in the reports to deceive stakeholders, or if high profit is shown to earn contracts, it comes under fraudulent accounting. It also violates the GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting PrinciplesGenerally Accepted Accounting PrinciplesGenerally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) are the minimum standards and uniform guidelines for the accounting and reporting. These standards prohibit firms from engaging in unethical business activities and enable for a more accurate comparison of financial reports to investors.).
The purpose of earnings management cannot always be wrong; there can be some good reasons also. Generally, it is bad as it is done for the purpose of Personal gain from such activity as earning commission from obtaining a contract from a false report or increasing the stock value it the market by showing the company is highly profitable. A good reason can be moving the money for next year’s so that the company will be showing consistent profit instead of fluctuating between profit and loss.
How to Detect Earnings Management?
The Healy model (1985) is used to calculate the estimation of discretionary accruals that are used in earnings management.
- Where: NDA = Estimated non-discretionary accruals
- TA = Total accruals scaled by lagging assets
- t = 1, 2… T refers to years included in the period of estimation;
- t = year in the event period.
One method of detecting earningsEarningsEarnings are usually defined as the net income of the company obtained after reducing the cost of sales, operating expenses, interest, and taxes from all the sales revenue for a specific time period. In the case of an individual, it comprises wages or salaries or other payments. management is shown above; there are other methods as well.
Earnings management can be good as well as bad; it is considered as good when there is no personal intention. It is bad for the company if the company is using these techniques to inflate its profit, as it can`t be done in the long term, or it will affect the company in the long run.
This has been a guide to What is Earnings Management & its Definition. Here we discuss the techniques of earnings management, types along with examples and purposes. You can learn more about from the following articles –