To be useful, information must be relevant to the decision-making needs of users. Information has the quality of relevance when it influences the economic decisions of users by helping them evaluate past, present or future events or confirming, or correcting, their past evaluations.
The predictive and confirmatory roles of information are interrelated. For example, information about the current level and structure of asset holdings has value to users when they endeavour to predict the ability of the enterprise to take advantage of opportunities and its ability to react to adverse situations. The same information plays a confirmatory role in respect of past predictions about, for example, the way in which the enterprise would be structured or the outcome of planned operations.
Information about financial position and past performance is frequently used as the basis for predicting future financial position and performance and other matters in which users are directly interested, such as dividend and wage payments, share price movements and the ability of the enterprise to meet its commitments as they fall due. To have predictive value, information need not be in the form of an explicit forecast. The ability to make predictions from financial statements is enhanced, however, by the manner in which information on past transactions and events is displayed. For example, the predictive value of the statement of profit and loss is enhanced if unusual, abnormal and infrequent items of income and expense are separately disclosed.
The relevance of information is affected by its materiality. Information is material if its misstatement (i.e., omission or erroneous statement) could influence the economic decisions of users taken on the basis of the financial information. Materiality depends on the size and nature of the item or error, judged in the particular circumstances of its misstatement. Materiality provides a threshold or cut-off point rather than being a primary qualitative characteristic which the information must have if it is to be useful.