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Financial Reporting in Non-listed Family Firms: Insights from Interviews with CFOs

Martin Glaum ()
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Martin Glaum: WHU—Otto Beisheim School of Management

Schmalenbach Business Review, 2020, vol. 72, issue 2, No 4, 225-270

Abstract: Abstract Analysing 20 interviews with CFOs of German non-listed family firms, I report how the firms’ financial reporting is organised, who are the financial statement addressees, how the CFOs define accounting quality, whether they manage earnings, and how owner families influence reporting. I also discuss the firms’ costs of reporting and disclosure. Most CFOs see the requirement to disclose financial statements as a burden. They react by disclosing statements as late as possible and by providing only the minimum content necessary. As regards accounting quality, the CFOs value formal correctness, but also sustainability, persistence, and conservative estimation of net income. Most CFOs engage in earnings management, above all to achieve a positive trend in net income, in some cases also to comply with debt covenants. The influence of the owner families differs; however, in most cases the family at least “sets the tone” for the reporting. On average, the direct costs of accounting and auditing in my sample firms amount to about 1% of revenues. According to the CFOs, public disclosure does not result in material indirect costs, and most CFOs would not change much if the requirements for reporting and disclosure were abolished. These findings add to our understanding of private firm financial reporting and suggest several directions for future research.

Keywords: Family firms; Financial reporting; Public disclosure; Accounting quality; Earnings management; Cost of financial reporting; M40; M41; M48; K20; L20 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s41464-020-00087-x

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