The Competition Commission is currently involved in a “Statutory audit services market investigation” and the recent publication of “provisional decision on remedies” has provoked some debate reported in the financial press.
- Audit market competition plans unveiled (BBC News Business 22 July 2013)
- Regulator drops threat to force audit rotation (Financial Times 22 July 2013)
- Competition Commission outlines five-year audit tenders (AccountancyAge 22 July 2013)
The Competition Commission (CC) investigation also includes an Audit public dataset as part of the evidence (Competition Commission, 2012b).
This dataset provides 7960 observations on 856 UK companies from 2000 to 2011. The CC requested data from all firms that had audited a FTSE 350 or Top Track 100 company during the period 2006 to 2011. The requested data formed two datasets: the engagement dataset, which is private to the CC investigation, and the public dataset, which includes audit fee, audit qualification and other public data.
The Audit public dataset will be of interest to researchers and the accompanying report provides an excellent description of the data and the work undertaken to check and clean the data (Competition Commission, 2012a). Of particular interest was the following comment on the quality of audit fee information in commercial company information databases.
There are a number of sources that provide the required company-level information, including Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, FAME and ICC. It was the CC’s intention to use one or more of these sources. However, a number of parties raised concerns about the reliability of these datasets including PwC, Deloitte and KPMG, while the problems with FAME were discussed in the OFT’s econometric analysis.13 The CC was told that publicly available data on audit fees is particularly prone to inaccuracies. For example, PwC found that 33 per cent of audit fee entries in a sample of FAME entries that it examined showed significant inaccuracies.
(Competition Commission, 2012a, Paragraph 10 footnotes deleted)
Competition Commission (2012a) Datasets in the market investigation for statutory audit services. Available at: http://www.competition-commission.org.uk/our-work/directory-of-all-inquiries/statutory-audit-services/evidence/audit-public-dataset (Accessed: 28 August 2013)
Competition Commission (2012b) Audit public dataset. Available at: http://www.competition-commission.org.uk/our-work/directory-of-all-inquiries/statutory-audit-services/evidence/audit-public-dataset (Accessed: 28 August 2013)
Worldscope is the global company accounts “database” from Thomson Reuters and thus a key research resource for company information. It is accessed using either Datastream (active and inactive companies) or Thomson One Banker (active companies only).
Worldscope is designed to allow comparison of companies that report under different accounting rules worldwide. In addition, it records company information using four templates: banks, industrial companies, insurance companies and other financial companies. This means that many of Worldscope’s datatypes only have values for a subset of the companies covered (e.g. US companies).
For full details of the Worldscope methodology and the definitions of the datatypes you can consult the Worldscope Data Definitions Guide (Issue 14) available from the Datastream Extranet.
The Worldscope Coverage Report, also available from the Datastream Extranet, for 28th Feb 2013 includes the following coverage information:
- Argentina – total companies 144, active 105, inactive 39
- Australia – total companies 2903, active 1957, inactive 946
- United Kingdom – total companies 5093, active 1890, inactive 3203
- United States – total companies 21130, active 9175, inactive 11955
- All countries – total companies 74757, active 46704, inactive 28053
The Worldscope Data Definitions Guide (Issue 14) and Worldscope Coverage Report are also available in the folder Database Manuals\Worldscope when using the database PCs in the Eddie Davies Library
Related Worldscope posts:
- Worldscope – company accounts data definitions (April 2011)
- Datastream, Worldscope and Units (August 2011)
- Worldscope accounting data – finding data tips (July 2011)
Worldscope is not the only database for company accounts (financials) – for example Compustat, available through WRDS, is very popular with researchers studying US companies and Bloomberg’s Financial Analysis (FA) function gives company account information.
The term “company financials” is often used rather than “company accounts”.
FAME, from Bureau van Dijk, provides financials for all UK (and Republic of Ireland) registered companies from their accounts filed with companies house. It covers public (quoted) and private companies: over 2.8 million active companies and 4.2 inactive companies on 05 June 2012. FAME provides: registered office, website, phone number, size, main activity, key financials (up to 10 years), directors, current subsidiaries, and current shareholders (including controlling shareholders and GUO (Global Ultimate Owner)).
FAME supports searching for companies by a wide set of criteria including name, location, industry, ownership structure, financials, and when the information has been updated. [Note: for small companies very limited information is available because they only have to report limited information with companies house.]
For more details on using FAME see the Library guides (look for FAME in Database guides section) and the online video guides [My Learning Essentials, Down to Business: Finding Business Information, Finding Company Information]. Updated 3 January 2014.
KeyNote is best know as a UK market research database providing reports on a wide range of industrial and consumer based products. However KeyNote company information can be used to research and analyse companies and people. It covers more than 7 million UK companies.
KeyNote company information provides:
- Company search by name (or company number)
- People search for company directors and shareholders
- List builder – select from key search criteria to create a list of companies, add additional output fields if required, and export your spreasheet of results
KeyNote also produces Business Ratio Reports and a UKplc report, based on 22 industry sectors and 141 industries.
KeyNote does not offer the flexibility of FAME when it comes to search criteria and defining your own output format, but its simpler interface is easy to use and it does offer UK company and market research information in a single database.
Public/Quoted UK companies
If you are only researching public UK companies then you may want to consider other databases that cover public companies worldwide, e.g. Bloomberg, Datastream, Thomson Research, Thomson One Banker. See previous post on Company Financial Analysis.
The library has a number of useful resources for the financial analysis of public companies (companies quoted on a stock exchange).
Thomson Reuters’ Worldscope database provides historical accounting data – balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. It is available through Thomson One Banker and Datastream. Bloomberg also has accounting data – command FA (Financial Analysis).
Company Filings (including Annual Reports)
Factiva from Dow Jones is a extensive online news database covering a wide range of sources. (See How Business News can enhance you research for more details.) Bloomberg also provides a wide range of company, financial market and economic news.
For further tips: use tags below to find other posts on these databases, and look at the How to research … guides,
The large number of data items (datatypes) available in Worldscope can make it difficult to find the ones that you want. The following tips might help.
Using the Datastream Navigator:
- Make sure you use reset to clear previous search criteria
- Use menu on left to restrict scope to Worldscope
- Try alternatives when searching by name
- Try restricting search to just key items – (Key WS Item option)
You can also try making a static request for say all Worldscope balance sheet items for industrial companies. See screencast http://screencast.com/t/2Fl1PQszf
Remember – just because a data item exists within Worldscope does not mean that data will be available for all companies – much depends on what the company reports in its annual accounts (and when a company was included in Worldscope – WC11516 Date Added to Product)
You can also use Thomson One Banker:
- Hover over a value in a Worldscope report to get the definition
- Use item lookup on Worldscope in the Report Writer (Web interface) or Report Wizard (TOB Excel add-in) – right-click to access definition
- Access pre-defined Worldscope report in the TOB Excel add-in – select a value and the TOB worldscope name will appear in the description of the cell contents e.g.
=PFDL(“ws.OperatingIncomeAfterDepr“, <date ref>, <comp ref>, <currency ref>)
The Worldscope data definitions guide provides the full detail of the templates for companies (Industrial, Banks, Insurance and Other Financial) and the definitions for all data items. See also:
- http://finabase.blogspot.com/2011/03/datastream-company-accounts-database.html (from Databaser blog)
- Worldscope meets Compustat: A Comparison of Financial Databases by Niels Ulbricht and Christian Weiner may be useful if you are looking to find comparable Worldscope and Compustat data items.
WRDS is regarded as the premier financial research database at business schools worldwide. Strictly, WRDS is not a database itself but a web-based research service. The University of Manchester subscribes to databases (CRSP, Compustat, IBES, etc. ) from their providers, and also to access using WRDS because of the convenience this offers. Several key factors contribute to its popularity:
- Convenient web-based access for databases through WRDS
CCM (CRSP Compustat Merged) example
- Web-based queries follow the same style for all the databases making WRDS easier to learn.
- Access to CRSP and Compustat, the top-rated databases for financial research on the US market
- Service designed by researchers for researchers: online documentation, able to cope with large volumes of data, and online support.
In general, WRDS is the first choice for most researchers so long as it has the data they need. Thomson Reuters Datastream is our most-used database for UK and Worldwide financial market research, where WRDS is heavily US-centric.
The Databaser blog has a good range of tips on using WRDS – For example
Note that the University of Manchester WRDS subscription does not include Compustat Global.