The Use of Fair Values to Assess Management's Stewardship: An Empirical Examination of UK Real Estate Firms
Henderson, Darren M.
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The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)/ International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) proposed Conceptual Framework solidifies stewardship as a primary financial reporting objective. Concurrently, fair value (FV) continues to be emphasized in FASB and IASB standards. In this study, using data from real estate firms in the UK, I test whether FVs provide stewardship-relevant information incremental to information provided by historical costs. Measuring stewardship by changes in CEO cash compensation and FVs through revaluations of investment properties, I find FVs provide stewardship information beyond historical costs; however, FVs must be supported by external appraisals to be useful. Further, FVs help to explain the traditional association between stock returns and compensation. The actual realization of FV changes through sale continues to be rewarded through compensation, meaning the full compensation value of FV changes is not given until realized. FV changes provide more useful stewardship information when FV estimates are of higher quality or when the CEO is more strongly governed. I also find that higher sensitivity to management effort, proxied by firm growth opportunities, makes FV changes more stewardship-relevant. Overall, I conclude that for UK real estate firms, FVs are useful for assessing management's stewardship with improvements in estimate quality and sensitivity to management effort increasing stewardship-usefulness; however, historical costs continue to be relevant for stewardship. My thesis provides insight into what information best captures management stewardship.