Related Party Disclosures in Financial Statements

published on 21 December 2023

Ensuring transparent financial reporting is crucial for building public trust.

This article will provide key guidance on properly disclosing related party relationships and transactions in financial statements, as required under accounting standards.

You will learn the objectives and specific disclosure requirements, see examples, and get tips for managing risks and conflicts of interest through appropriate oversight policies.

Related party disclosures provide important information to financial statement users about transactions and relationships between a reporting entity and its related parties. Understanding these relationships helps assess the impact they may have on the financial statements.

A related party refers to an individual or entity that has control or significant influence over the reporting entity. Examples include owners, directors, management, subsidiaries, affiliates, principal owners of the entity and members of their immediate families.

Related party transactions are transfers of resources, services or obligations between a reporting entity and a related party. These transactions need special consideration because they may not always be conducted at arm's length. Without proper disclosure, this could distort financial statement interpretations.

The FASB Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 850, Related Party Disclosures, establishes disclosure requirements to provide transparency around the nature and financial impact of such transactions.

Disclosure Objectives and Requirements under ASC 850

Key objectives of ASC 850 disclosures include:

  • Helping financial statement users assess the impact related parties may have on the reporting entity
  • Identifying transactions that may indicate conflicts of interest

To accomplish this, ASC 850 requires disclosure of material related party transactions, including:

  • The nature of the relationship
  • A description of the transactions
  • The dollar amounts of the transactions
  • Amounts due from or to related parties
  • Any other information necessary for understanding the effects of the transactions

Proper application of ASC 850 ensures adequate transparency around related party relationships and transactions in the financial statements.

A related party transaction refers to a business deal or arrangement between two parties that have a pre-existing relationship prior to the transaction taking place. Specifically, in financial reporting, it involves the transfer of resources, services, or obligations between a reporting entity and a related party.

Some key points about related party transactions in financial statements:

  • They occur between a reporting entity and related parties that have a close relationship, such as subsidiaries, key management personnel, board members, principal owners, etc.

  • These transactions are required to be disclosed under accounting standards like IFRS and US GAAP to provide transparency into deals that may have different terms compared to third-party transactions.

  • Common examples include sales, purchases, loans, leases, guarantees, management contracts, etc. between a company and its affiliates.

  • The disclosures include the nature of the relationship, transaction details, amounts involved, pricing policies, and other information considered necessary for understanding the transactions' potential impact.

  • The goal is to give financial statement users more insight into transactions that may not be conducted under normal market terms and could potentially impact the reporting entity's financial position or performance.

In summary, related party transaction disclosures aim to highlight business deals between affiliated entities so that those relying on the financial statements can ascertain whether they were carried out at arms-length or not. This allows for better assessment of any conflicts of interest and the true economic substance of such relationships reflected on the balance sheet and income statement.

Are disclosures part of financial statements?

Disclosures are an important part of financial statements, providing additional information to supplement the core financial data. They come at the end of financial statements, typically in the notes section.

Disclosures serve several key purposes:

  • They provide context and details to help readers interpret the financial numbers accurately. For example, disclosures may explain one-time events, changes in accounting methods, business combinations, contractual obligations, etc.

  • They ensure financial transparency by revealing financial exposures, risks, uncertainties, and commitments that may impact the company's performance. This includes things like lawsuits, loss contingencies, credit risks, derivatives, debt covenants, etc.

  • They help meet regulatory requirements for financial reporting. Various accounting standards and regulations mandate certain disclosures based on materiality thresholds. These ensure standardization in reporting.

In summary, disclosures enable readers to grasp the company's true financial position. They prevent financial statements from being misleading and provide the necessary details for decision making. While not part of the recorded financial data directly, disclosures are an integral part of high quality financial reporting.

The key accounting standard for related party disclosures is IAS 24 - Related Party Disclosures. The objective of IAS 24 is to ensure that an entity's financial statements contain the disclosures necessary to draw attention to the possibility that its financial position and profit or loss may have been affected by the existence of related parties and by transactions and outstanding balances with such parties.

Some key requirements of IAS 24 include:

  • Disclosure of the relationships between a reporting entity and its related parties, including the identity of the related party and the nature of the relationship. Common related party relationships include subsidiaries, associates, joint ventures, key management personnel, close family members, and entities controlled by key management personnel or their close family members.

  • Disclosure of the types of transactions that have occurred between the reporting entity and its related parties, such as purchases, sales, loans, leases, guarantees, management contracts, etc.

  • Disclosure of outstanding balances with related parties at the reporting date, including amounts of loans, receivables, payables, provisions for doubtful debts, expense recognized from bad or doubtful debts, etc.

  • Disclosure of commitments between the reporting entity and its related parties, such as commitments to lend or provide other financial support.

The objective is to provide transparency around these relationships and transactions so that financial statement users can assess the potential impact on the reporting entity's financial position and performance.

Disclosing related party relationships and transactions in financial statements is important for two key reasons:

  1. It provides transparency into potential conflicts of interest. Related party transactions may not be conducted at fair market value, so disclosing them allows financial statement users to assess whether these transactions unfairly benefit insiders. This transparency helps build trust in the financial reporting.

  2. It improves assessment of financial position and performance. Since related party transactions can impact profits and the balance sheet, disclosing them gives financial statement users better context to interpret the financial results. For example, a loan to an executive at below market rates would impact interest income and receivables.

By mandating disclosure of material related party relationships and transactions, accounting standards aim to provide transparency and improve decision usefulness of financial reporting for investors, creditors, and other stakeholders.


Financial statements should provide transparency into related party relationships and transactions that could impact the financial health of an organization. As per accounting standards like ASC 850 (Related Party Disclosures), companies must disclose relevant details to allow financial statement users to evaluate these relationships.

To determine which parties qualify as related under ASC 850, companies should review affiliations between:

  • Major shareholders and executives
  • Subsidiaries, affiliates, and joint ventures
  • Any entities that can exercise significant influence

Control relationships and economic dependencies that could lead to transactions favoring related parties should also be assessed.

Once identified, details on the nature of these related party relationships must be disclosed.

If material amounts are due from related parties like subsidiaries, affiliates, principal owners, management, or other related entities, separate line items must be reflected on the balance sheet.

Descriptions should clarify the relationship and provide context on repayment terms, intended actions, and potential risks or uncertainties associated with collection of these receivables.

The notes to financial statements should include a description of material related party transactions, including:

  • The relationship between the transacting parties
  • A description of the transaction(s)
  • The recorded amount of the transaction(s)
  • Any other elements necessary to understand the transaction(s)

For example:

"The Company has a consulting agreement with a member of the Board of Directors, paying $100,000 annually for advisory services. This agreement has been in place for the past two years."

Such disclosures provide transparency into transactions that could improperly benefit related parties.

Related party transactions can take many forms, from sales and purchases of goods to transfers of assets or liabilities. To comply with accounting standards like ASC 850, companies must properly disclose related party relationships and transactions in their financial statements.

Reviewing examples of actual disclosures can illustrate best practices for compliance, transparency, and decision usefulness.

When examining related party disclosure examples from financial statements, key items to assess include:

  • Completeness - Have all material related parties and relationships been identified?
  • Clarity - Are the nature and business purpose of the relationships and transactions clearly described?
  • Quantification - Are amounts, terms, and other details adequately disclosed?
  • Compliance - Do the disclosures adhere to ASC 850 and other accounting standards?

Common pitfalls include vague boilerplate language, failure to disclose all material transactions, and lack of specifics around relationship definitions, terms, and amounts.

Case Study: Sample Disclosure in an Annual Report

As an example, consider the following excerpt from the related party disclosures in XYZ Company's 20X1 Annual Report:

One of the Company's directors serves as CEO of ABC Corp. ABC Corp sold $2.3 million of inventory to the Company during 20X1 on credit terms consistent with other third-party suppliers. The Company had accounts payable due to ABC Corp of $230,000 as of December 31, 20X1. Additionally, the Company's CEO owns a 20% stake in 123 LLC. The Company purchased $1.1 million of consulting services from 123 LLC during 20X1.

This disclosure specifically identifies the related parties (ABC Corp and 123 LLC), quantifies the transactions in dollars, describes the nature of the relationships, and discloses relevant terms and amounts owed. By benchmarking against requirements like ASC 850, this example exhibits many best practices for related party disclosures.

Quantitative Disclosure Requirements

Related party transactions that meet certain materiality thresholds must be quantitatively disclosed in financial statements. Specifically, the financial statements should disclose:

  • The nature of the relationship between the related parties (e.g. parent company and subsidiary, entities under common control, etc.)
  • A description of the transactions between the related parties, including goods or services provided, payment terms, etc.
  • The dollar amount of the transactions during the reporting period and any outstanding balances
  • Amounts due from or to related parties and, if not otherwise apparent, the terms and manner of settlement

Providing the specific dollar values and volumes of related party transactions allows financial statement users to evaluate their financial effect.

Qualitative Disclosure Requirements

In addition to quantitative data, companies must also provide qualitative disclosures to give proper context around related party transactions, such as:

  • The basis used to account for the transactions (e.g. cost, market value, etc.)
  • Details of any contractual obligations or commitments between the related parties
  • Terms and manner of settlement for outstanding balances
  • Guarantees provided or received for any related party receivables or payables
  • Provisions for uncollectible amounts related to related party transactions

These descriptive disclosures help explain the business rationale and risks associated with the related party relationships and transactions. They provide transparency into issues like special pricing terms, repayment issues, or other terms that may not reflect arm's length transactions.

Together, the quantitative and qualitative related party disclosures offer financial statement users a complete picture to evaluate these transactions that have a higher risk of manipulation due to the related party relationship. Adhering to disclosure rules is critical for maintaining the credibility of financial reporting.

Managing Risks and Conflicts of Interest

Related party transactions can present risks of conflicts of interest that need to be properly managed and disclosed. Here are some best practices:

Importance of Oversight for High-Risk Transactions

  • Related party transactions involving significant assets or liabilities should have independent oversight from the board of directors or audit committee.
  • Lack of proper governance over these deals can enable abuse and accounting manipulation.
  • The board should carefully review terms for fairness, necessity of transaction, and impact to the company.
  • Special focus should be given to deals involving company insiders that may improperly influence terms or pricing.

Implementing Conflict of Interest Policies

  • Adopt a formal conflict of interest policy covering all employees and board members.
  • Require periodic disclosure of potential conflicts through questionnaires.
  • Prohibit deals benefiting an insider unless expressly approved by disinterested parties.
  • Institute approval processes ensuring thorough diligence and competitive pricing.
  • Mandate robust related party disclosures meeting all accounting rule requirements.

Following governance best practices and transparency standards can mitigate risks from related party transactions. Oversight and disclosures build trust with stakeholders.

Properly disclosing related party transactions in financial statements provides transparency and builds trust with stakeholders. By clearly reporting relationships and material transactions between a company and related entities, financial statement users get a more complete picture of operations.

Importance of Disclosure for Transparency

  • Disclosing related party transactions, balances, commitments, and relationships gives financial statement users better context to interpret performance.
  • It reduces instances of abusive transactions that unfairly benefit insiders.
  • Failing to properly disclose related parties erodes confidence in management and oversight.

Best Practices to Ensure Compliance

  • Maintain a comprehensive list of related entities based on ownership, managerial control, and influence. Update regularly.
  • Implement controls for identifying, tracking, and reporting transactions with listed related parties.
  • Disclose the nature of relationships, types of transactions, amounts involved, terms and conditions, and other details.
  • Review disclosure requirements under relevant accounting standards regularly.
  • Work closely with auditors to validate completeness of related party disclosures.

Proper related party disclosure provides transparency that builds trust with stakeholders. Companies should implement ongoing procedures to comply with disclosure rules.

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