In this essay, there will be a discussion about the two following issues. The first one is that whether relevance or reliability are of equal importance or not. The second is that the regulators’ behaviour in accordance with ‘public interest theory’. For the first issue, the dilemma over the importance of the reliability and relevance has been plagued by the accounting professionfor a long time, and they must get balanced to guarantee useful services of accounting information. When comes to the second issue, it can be seen that the idealized colour of traditional public interest theory is too thick. Because it is neither easy to judge the objectives of the public interests nor evaluate the effects of the stakeholders.In the following part,arguments will be listed for above issues in detail. Some cases may be presented in order to give readers a better understanding.
To be first, there will be a discussion about the definition and the importance of the relevance and reliability of accounting information. Reliability and relevance are the most important quality characteristics of accounting information,which areboth antagonistic and unified.From this perspective, the judgment have direct impact on the accounting policies, measurement, reporting model and so on. (Thomas ,1983)
Narrow sense of accounting includes three characteristic: predictive value, feedback value and timeliness value. The predictive value of the relevance accounting information can enhance predictive ability of the matters in the future of the decision-makers. Feedback value refers to the history information by feedback and expectations. Timeliness of accounting information means information should be provided in time before lost.If the information provided is not timely, it will be useless for decision-making. Generalized relevance means accounting information should be provided by the accounting information system and accounting users of information relevant to decision-making.Specifically, the accounting information must be in line with national macroeconomic management requirements, in line with corporate investors and creditors to make decisions.
Reliability narrowly includes truthfully reflectingthe constitutes, neutrality and verifiability three elements. Truthfully reflectingthe reliability that objectivity, accounting information should actually occurred economic activity, and objectively reflect the financial position of the enterprise, operating results and now cash flow. Neutrality refers to accounting personnel in dealing with accounting information should maintain a impartial neutrality, accounting information does not exist to achieve certain results or induce a specific shape or behaviour intent or bias. Verifiable refers to independent certified public accountant available phase with the measurement method, to obtain the same accounting information.
The reliability of accounting information in the broad sense, not just true of the accounting data,reliable, and also contains a subjective judgment by the accounting staff.Analysis and comprehensive will aggregate processing the reliability of the data presented on the meter statements. At the same time, the current accounting system and accounting standards give accounting personnel to make certain estimates, judgments and different accounting policies to select .So the reliability of the accounting information can only be relative, not absolutelyreliable.（Michael ,1997）
However,there will be a different focus on reliability and relevance in different accounting measurement modes. It is because of the different metering modes, a contradiction between the two occurs. To be more specific, relevance is based on the need of information users，however，reliability works to ensure full trust in the information users of accounting information. Sometimes there is an interesting relationship between them. In order to strengthen, and expand the range of accounting or to reflect changes in accounting method, reliability may get weaken in this progress.Vice versa, in order to improve the reliability, a large number of difficultly measurement economic resources are not reflected in,or worse, continuing with the old accounting methods weakened relevance. Therefore, in practical work, it is necessary to carry out the necessary professional judgment, and we need to trade-off between reliability.
A more profound reason for the contradiction between the reliability and relevance is that ideal environment and non-ideal accounting environment contradicts. The ideal accounting environment refers to the company's future present interest rate cash flow and economic system is well known and determined. Accounting information coordinate and match the specific needs of financial and accounting functions of information between completely from leaving the demand and supply of accounting information to achieve a balanced state. The information on the nature and quantity can meet the demand state provided by the financial accounting. Environment models are required In order to reach this state, that is the ideal state accounting environment. In other words, it is the most conducive to provide"useful" (or the corresponding environment can best meet the needs of) accounting information. Dissatisfied with above conditions is called non-ideal accounting environment. Thus, the ideal state of financial accounting will be highly accurate or scientific, which is also extremely simple and pure. However, The reality is far from ideal, and in the foreseeable future,will not reach this state. This makes a lot of accounting measurement vague and uncertain, and leads to the results that reliability and relevance can not be well balanced.