DEFINITION of 'Accountant's Opinion'

A statement signed by an independent accountant outlining his or her opinion regarding the quality of information contained in a company's financial reports and records.

BREAKING DOWN 'Accountant's Opinion'

An accountant's opinion statement can either be qualified or unqualified. When the opinion is qualified, the accountant is questioning the accounting principles and/or scope of the information provided. An unqualified opinion is given when the accountant sees that the given information in the financial statements is sound. In other words, an unqualified opinion is desirable whereas a qualified opinion is not.

The subject of accountant independence became an important issue in the wake of the demise of such corporate giants as Enron and WorldCom in the early 2000's. Because Enron and WorldCom were large companies, they represented a substantial portion of their accounting firms' revenues. This lead to the speculation that the accountants could not provide truly independent opinions for these giant companies, who provided the accountants with extremely lucrative contracts but also might have terminated these contracts if undesirable accounting opinions were issued.

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