Who are the users of financial statements? An empirical study of mainly Belgian companies.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Companies spend a lot of time and money in preparing financial statements that are supposed to meet the information needs of «users». It is not surprising then that accounting literature and standard setters try to define the most important users of financial statements. However, the approach followed so far is rather axiomatic. More empirical research is necessary to identify who the users really are.
This paper contributes to the accounting literature by exploring who the users of financial statements are using a unique set of responses from 455 users of financial statements of mainly Belgian listed companies. The results show that - in line with the previous research findings and the assumptions of standard setters - shareholders, investors and analysts are key users. Additionally however, suppliers,
customers, consultants and competitors are also important users. Furthermore, frequent users are interested in financial statements of companies from different industries but less in the financial statements of companies located in different countries. Finally, almost 50 % of the users spend less than 15 minutes in analysing a typical financial statement.
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)3-15
Number of pages13
JournalAccountancy & Bedrijfskunde
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


  • financial statements
  • users
  • comparability


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