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What Is The Going Concern Assumption? Definition And Red Flags

Going Concern

Management determines if “substantial doubt” is raised regarding the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern. However, if substantial doubt israised, management would proceed to the next assessment step. Instead, it only speaks to the presumed continuation of a company in its financial statements, except if liquidation is imminent. Climate-related risks may result in material uncertainties affecting a company’s ability to continue as a going concern or may involve significant judgements in concluding that there is no material uncertainty. IAS 1 Presentation of Financial Statements requires disclosure of those uncertainties and significant judgements involved.

  • If management has not performed that evaluation, then the auditor is obligated to ask management to perform the evaluation required by the accounting framework.
  • If a company invests substantially in new plants and machinery using an overdraft, it can risk losing its going concern status if it cannot repay the borrowed amount.
  • For some, these risks may already trigger the immediate need for robust and company-specific disclosures.
  • Let’s drill down on those basic objectives and consider the steps the auditor goes through in achieving those objectives.
  • When management needs to use cash flow projections to make their evaluation, then the auditor certainly has to consider those projections and evaluate the underlying data.
  • I should also just quickly point out that’s the standard issued by FASB for nongovernmental entities.

The cash flow problem is a link from the other factors that list above, but probably we can see it in the cash low statements while as well as a balance sheet in terms of reporting. Another indicator that indicates that the cash flow problem is liquidity ratios analysis. In order to assume that the entity has no going concern problem, the managements have to perform the proper assessment by including all relevant indicators that could cause the entity to close its business in the next twelve months period. The going concern concept of accountingimplies that the business entity will continue its operations in the future and will not liquidate or be forced to discontinue operations due to any reason. A company is a going concern if no evidence is available to believe that it will or will have to cease its operations in foreseeable future. Analyzing the recent trends of the business can be useful to determine the company’s potential to earn profits, its current value and consequently its going concern status.

The Moment I Knew I Was Done With Public Accounting For Good

The continued effects of the pandemic, along with the implementation of new accounting standards, have companies and their auditors confronting substantial change in year-end audits. One of the most basic accounting assumptions is the concept that a business is a going concern.

Going Concern

Depending on the timing, this re-issuance may or may not occur in conjunction with the issuer’s conducting its own quarterly evaluation of its ability to continue as a going concern. If a public or private company reports that its auditors have doubts about its ability to continue as a going concern, investors may take that as a sign of increased risk, although an emphasis of matter paragraph in an audit report does not necessarily indicate that a company is on the verge of insolvency.

Auditors Concerns Over A Negative Opinion

All assets are depreciated and amortized as appropriate, with the same idea that the business will continue to operate. If the going concern assumption did not hold true, then it would not be possible to record prepaid or accrued expenses as such.

If management has performed that evaluation, then the next step would be for the auditor to look at, consider, and discuss management’s evaluation with them. I think in today’s environment, certainly with today’s smaller businesses, management has their hands full with so many things, just keeping the operations going and the doors open, that they may very well have not spent a lot of time with a going concern evaluation. If management has not performed that evaluation, then the auditor is obligated to ask management to perform the evaluation required by the accounting framework.

  • For example, on any given day, a textile manufacturer has shirts at various stages in the production process.
  • The accompanying financial statements have been prepared assuming that the Company will continue as a going concern.
  • Management needs to assess whether there is substantial doubt about the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern for that 12-month period.
  • The example that everybody uses these days is, if your business happens to make toilet paper, the environment is probably not leading you to question your ability to continue as a going concern.
  • Therefore, most of the time, the lender must have already approved the waiver for the current violation in order for management to consider it in their plans since the approval is outside the company’s control.

And management’s evaluation is made based on the conditions or events that are known at the time they are making that evaluation or are reasonably knowable as of that date. It essentially is, at the date of that evaluation, what do they know and then what is their conclusion around that. A going concern is a business that is assumed will meet its financial obligations when they fall due. It functions without the threat of liquidation for the foreseeable future, which is usually regarded as at least the next 12 months or the specified accounting period .

Disclosure Requirements

In other words, the firm does not intend to discontinue its operations and resell these assets. Moreover, it is assumed that the firm will be in existence long enough to fully use these assets and derive the complete benefit inherent within them. Thus, the prices at which the resources could be sold at the market value would only be significant to financial reports if the business expected to cease operations at once and liquidate its assets. Assuming that the firm is a going concern, it is logical that the firm values these assets at their historical costs and not adjust them for any subsequent change in value. It follows that the current liquidation value of these assets is not important and that the firm uses the original, or historical, costs of assets and liabilities on its financial statements.

If a company cannot obtain a loan or if banks or other financial institutions withdraw monetary support, it shows that lenders have low confidence in the company’s ability to repay the borrowed amount. For example, a company may need to close a small branch office and reassign employees to other departments within the company to optimize cash flow and assets and remain a going concern. However, a sizeable portion of investors in the market utilize DCF models or at least take the fundamentals of the company into consideration (e.g. free cash flows, profit margins), so comps take into account these factors, too – just indirectly as opposed to explicitly. Moreover, relative valuation such as comparable company analysis and precedent transactions value companies based on how similar companies are priced.

If the auditor concludes that substantial doubt does exist, then as a second step it is required to consider management’s plans to address the circumstances giving rise to the substantial doubt, such as selling assets, restructuring debt, or raising capital. Management and auditors are required by accounting and auditing standards to assess and report whether there are events or conditions that raise substantial doubt about a company’s ability to continue as a going concern within one year after the date its financial statements are issued or available to be issued. The economic uncertainties caused by the pandemic created new risks to operations and cash flows, and management needed to adapt and identify new mitigation plans to alleviate any going concern issues. The auditor evaluates an entity’s ability to continue as a going concern for a period not less than one year following the date of the financial statements being audited . The auditor considers such items as negative trends in operating results, loan defaults, denial of trade credit from suppliers uneconomical long-term commitments, and legal proceedings in deciding if there is a substantial doubt about an entity’s ability to continue as a going concern. If so, the auditor must draw attention to the uncertainty regarding the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern, in their auditor’s report. On the other hand, inappropriate use of the going concern assumption by an entity may cause the auditor to issue an adverse opinion on the financial statements.

As discussed in Note X to the financial statements, the Company has been required by governmental authorities to close a number of its locations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its suppliers and customers have also been impacted by those governmental restrictions. The closures have caused a material adverse effect on the Company’s revenues, results of operations, and cash flows, including the Company’s ability to meet its obligations when due; and the Company has stated that substantial doubt exists about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern. Management’s evaluation of the events and conditions and management’s plans regarding those matters are also described in Note X. The financial statements do not include any adjustments that might result from the outcome of this uncertainty. It is probable that management’s plans, when implemented, will mitigate the relevant conditions or events that raise substantial doubt about the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern within one year after the date that the financial statements are issued. The closures have caused a material adverse effect on the Company’s revenues, results of operations, and cash flows, including the Company’s ability to meet its obligations when due, which raises substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.

Going Concern Accounting And Auditing

The elements of management’s plans that the auditor considered to be particularly significant to overcoming the adverse effects of the conditions or events. If the auditor concludes that there is substantial doubt concerning the company’s ability to continue as a going concern, an emphasis of a matter paragraph should be added to the opinion. The financial statements have been prepared on a going concern basis which assumes the Company will be able to realize its assets and discharge its liabilities in the normal course of business for the foreseeable future. The Company has incurred accumulated losses of $2,891,727 as of March 31, 2017. Cash flows used in operations totaled $555,897 for the year ended March 31, 2017.

The auditor should remain alertthroughout the audit for conditions or events that raise substantial doubt. So, after the initial review of going concern issues in the planning stage, the auditor considers the impact of new information gained during the subsequent stages of the engagement.

If the auditor concludes there is substantial doubt, he should consider the adequacy of disclosure about the entity’s possible inability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time, and include an explanatory paragraph, including an appropriate title , in his audit report to reflect his conclusion. If the auditor concludes that substantial doubt does not exist, he should consider the need for disclosure. It may be necessary to obtain additional information about such conditions and events, as well as the appropriate evidential matter to support information that mitigates the auditor’s doubt. External events – e.g. a natural disaster, geopolitical affairs or pandemic – may cause economic conditions to deteriorate significantly and create economic uncertainty for many companies. The last piece of the puzzle often for management plans involves the entity’s ability to access funding from an external third party, a parent entity, an owner-manager, or some other source. If that’s part of management’s plans, then the auditor needs to assess whether those third parties have both the intent and the ability to provide that support if need be. And if the intent and ability are present, there is a requirement for the auditor to obtain written evidence about the intent, preferably from the third party.

An auditor typically determines whether a company is a by evaluating a number of factors, including industry conditions, the company’s operating results and financial position, and any legal concerns, among others. These are usually analyzed over a period of the next 12 months, which is typically the period until the company’s next audit. 5 In a going-concern explanatory paragraph, the auditor should not use conditional language in expressing a conclusion concerning the existence of substantial doubt about the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern. Our previous article on “Going Concern Guidance for Audit Engagements” discussed the impact of the current health and economic crisis on an auditor’s evaluation of an entity’s ability to continue as a going concern. It also discussed the required accounting and disclosure requirements for all types of for-profit and nonprofit entities found in FASB ASC , Presentation of Financial Statements – Going Concern. This blog post focuses on the going concern considerations related to review engagements.

This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. The going concern assumption is that a business will remain active for the foreseeable future. External matters that have occurred—for example, legal proceedings, legislation, or similar matters that might jeopardize an entity’s ability to operate; loss of a key franchise, license, or patent; loss of a principal customer or supplier; uninsured or underinsured catastrophe such as a drought, earthquake, or flood.

Actions For Management To Take Now

If we disregard the going concern and assume the business could be closed within the next year, a liquidation approach to valuing assets would be more appropriate. Assets would be recorded at net realizable values and all assets would be considered current assets rather than being segregated into current and long-term categories. In accrual accounting, the financial statements are prepared under the assumption that the company will remain operating into the foreseeable future – which is defined as the next twelve months at a bare minimum. GAAP to evaluate an entity’s ability to continue as a going concern as of each annual and interim reporting date is not new. However, because of the financial and operational challenges that many entities are facing as a result of coronavirus disease 2019 (“COVID-19”),1 there is a renewed focus on an entity’s going-concern assessment.

As we previously mentioned, without substantial doubt, there’s no impact to the company’s financial statements. Still when there issubstantial doubt, the required disclosures will depend on whether the substantial doubt raised was alleviated by management’s plans or if it exists. In that case, management is required to make disclosures required by the accounting framework made by management.

Management believes the Company’s present cash flows will not enable it to meet its obligations for twelve months from the date these financial statements are available to be issued. It is probable that management will obtain new sources of financing that will enable the Company to meet its obligations for the twelve-month period from the date the financial statements are available to be issued. Consideration of an entity’s ability to continue as a going concern also falls within an auditor’s jurisdiction under US GAAS . Therefore, it’s important management keeps in mind that a going concern conclusion where substantial doubt exists will absolutely impact the audit report. As a best practice, management should start the process early to avoid any surprises on conclusions, especially when there’s a lot of risk and uncertainty around.

What Is Substantial Doubt?

A qualified opinion, on the other hand, is not what a business wants to see. Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us.

Unless there is significant evidence to the contrary, it is assumed that a specific business enterprise will continue to operate for an indefinite period, or at least for the “foreseeable future”—long enough both to meet its objectives and fulfill its commitments. Importantly, while the going-concern concept assumes that the firm will continue to operate for the foreseeable future, it in no way implies that the firm will make a profit. Throughout this publication, the “date financial statements are issued” or “financial statement issuance date” also refers to the date financial statements are available to be issued. The funds necessary to maintain the entity’s operations considering its current financial condition, obligations, and other expected cash flows .

Prior to 2020, the majority of declines noted in Going Concern reporting was attributed to companies that stopped issuing annual reports with audit opinions. However, during 2020, the survey attributed 56 percent of going concern opinion attrition to companies receiving clean audit opinions. The number of U.S. companies receiving a going concern opinion fell below 1,000 for the first time in 2020. The figure represented 16.6 percent of all annual report opinions issued, down from 19.4 percent in 2019. The number of going concern opinions in 2020 went down 11.4 percent from 2019, despite an increase in the total number of audit opinions in annual reports for the first time since 2007.


The going concern concept is extremely important to generally accepted accounting principles. Without the going concern assumption, companies wouldn’t have the ability to prepay or accrue expenses. If we didn’t assume companies would keep operating, why would be prepay or accrue anything? In either case, however, audit engagement teams should keep in mind that protecting their own, and their firms’, interests depends on the team ensuring that it considers the relevant evidence with appropriate skepticism and documents that its process was thorough and appropriate. Or increase the credit term for their business as the result of operating losses or lack of cash flow. A large amount of debt or interest payable is one of the going concern indicators. In this case, management will have to assess how well the entity solves these problems and whether this problem could lead to the close of operation or not.

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