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Accountant’s Opinion – Definition

Accountant’s Opinion Definition

An accountant’s opinion is a statement in writing issued by an independent public accountant or auditor to describe the results of an assessment of a firm’s financial reports. Usually, the purpose of an accountant’s opinion is to certify that a firm’s financial statements are accurate and complete. Such opinions can either be unqualified or qualified, with unqualified opinions following auditing and accounting standards established under the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

A Little More on Accountant’s Opinion

There are three main components of an accountant’s opinion:

  • An introduction that provides a synopsis of the responsibilities of the company’s management as well as the responsibility of the accountant or the audit firm.
  • An identification of the company’s financial statements, based on which the accountant’s opinion will be delivered.
  • The actual statement of the opinion.

An accountant’s opinion usually forms part of the accountant or auditor’s annual report that accompanies the filing of Form 10-K. Any publicly-traded company that does not include an accountant’s opinion in its annual filing is likely to cause concern among investors. An accountant’s opinion can be either unqualified or qualified, depending on the scope of the assessment as well as the accountant’s conviction in the veracity of the financial statements.

An unqualified opinion, also known as a “clean opinion”, is one of the most common forms of accountant’s opinions, and also the best indicator of the accuracy, completeness and compliance of a company’s financial statements. An unqualified report almost always contains the word “independent” in the title, which signifies its creation by an unbiased third party.

On the other hand, a qualified opinion expresses concern on the part of the auditor about not being able to form a comprehensive opinion about a company’s finances, or a portion thereof, usually as a result of the financial statements failing to comply with the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). However, the implications of a qualified opinion are not always negative.

In rare scenarios, an accountant may also hand out an adverse opinion, which is classified as the most unfavorable opinion that any company may receive. An adverse opinion usually signifies that the company’s financial statements are in violation of certain accounting or auditing standards established by GAAP. Adverse opinions often are an indication of fraud on the part of the audited companies, and such businesses are required to make the necessary changes to their financial statements and also agree to a follow-up audit.

In certain situations, the auditor may not be able to complete a financial audit due to the absence or insufficiency of financial statements or lack of cooperation from the company’s management. In such situations, the auditor hands out a disclaimer of opinion, which is a statement (not considered an accountant’s opinion) that indicates the auditor’s inability to render opinions based on the financial statements of the company.

Reference for “Accountant’s Opinion”

Academic research on “Accountant’s Opinion”

Missing records preclude accountant’s opinion, Blough, C. G. (1954). Missing records preclude accountant’s opinion. Journal of Accountancy (pre-1986), 98(000004), 518.

California accountancy board adopts rule governing accountant’s opinion, Carey, J. L. (1950). California accountancy board adopts rule governing accountant’s opinion. Journal of Accountancy (pre-1986), 90(000002), 98.

Accountant’s opinion with respect to summary earnings statements, Carey, J. L. (1947). Accountant’s opinion with respect to summary earnings statements. Journal of Accountancy (pre-1986), 83(000006), 462.

Effect on the accountant’s opinion of Statement No. 23: A pre-election analysis, Eaton, M. G. (1949). Effect on the accountant’s opinion of Statement No. 23: A pre-election analysis. Journal of Accountancy (pre-1986), 88(000004), 314.

Accountant’s opinion-or lack of it-should be made clear in interim reports, Ruggles, R. W. (1953). Accountant’s opinion-or lack of it-should be made clear in interim reports. Journal of Accountancy (pre-1986), 95(000001), 51.

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