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    »What Is Accounting Anyway?«

  • Toronto SEO Keywords 8:58 PM on October 22, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , Balance a Checkbook, , Costs, Income Statements, , , , Multi-Billion Dollar Businesses, , Pprofits, , Profit and Loss Statements, , , , ,   

    What Is Accounting Anyway?

    Anyone who’s worked in an office at some point or another has had to go to accounting. They’re the people who pay and send out the bills that keep the business running. They do a lot more than that, though. Sometimes referred to as “bean counters” they also keep their eye on profits, costs and losses. Unless you’re running your own business and acting as your own accountant, you’d have no way of knowing just how profitable – or not – your business is without some form of accounting.

    No matter what business you’re in, even if all you do is balance a checkbook, that’s still accounting. It’s part of even a kid’s life. Saving an allowance, spending it all at once – these are accounting principles.

    What are some other businesses where accounting is critical? Well, farmers need to follow careful accounting procedures. Many of them run their farms year to year by taking loans to plant the crops. If it’s a good year, a profitable one, then they can pay off their loan; if not, they might have to carry the loan over, and accrue more interest charges.

    Every business and every individual needs to have some kind of accounting system in their lives. Otherwise, the finances can get away from them, they don’t know what they’ve spent, or whether they can expect a profit or a loss from their business. Staying on top of accounting, whether it’s for a multi-billion dollar business or for a personal checking account is a necessary activity on a daily basis if you’re smart. Not doing so can mean anything from a bounced check or posting a loss to a company’s shareholders. Both scenarios can be equally devastating.

    Accounting is basically information, and this information is published periodically in business as a profit and loss statement, or an income statement.

     

  • »Depreciation reporting«

  • TorontoSEO 9:34 PM on September 5, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , , Depreciation reporting, , , machinery, , , , ,   

    Depreciation reporting

    In an accountant’s reporting systems, depreciation of a business’s fixed assets such as its buildings, equipment, computers, etc. is not recorded as a cash outlay. When an accountant measures profit on the accrual basis of accounting, he or she counts depreciation as an expense. Buildings, machinery, tools, vehicles and furniture all have a limited useful life. All fixed assets, except for actual land, have a limited lifetime of usefulness to a business. Depreciation is the method of accounting that allocates the total cost of fixed assets to each year of their use in helping the business generate revenue.

    Part of the total sales revenue of a business includes recover of cost invested in its fixed assets. In a real sense a business sells some of its fixed assets in the sales prices that it charges it customers. For example, when you go to a grocery store, a small portion of the price you pay for eggs or bread goes toward the cost of the buildings, the machinery, bread ovens, etc. Each reporting period, a business recoups part of the cost invested in its fixed assets.

    It’s not enough for the accountant to add back depreciation for the year to bottom-line profit. The changes in other assets, as well as the changes in liabilities, also affect cash flow from profit. The competent accountant will factor in all the changes that determine cash flow from profit. Depreciation is only one of many adjustments to the net income of a business to determine cash flow from operating activities. Amortization of intangible assets is another expense that is recorded against a business’s assets for year. It’s different in that it doesn’t require cash outlay in the year being charged with the expense. That occurred when the business invested in those tangible assets.

     

  • »What is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act?«

  • TorontoSEO 8:52 PM on September 19, 2011 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , Representative Michael G. Oxley, Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Senator Paul Sarbanes, , , , , , What is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act,   

    What is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act?

    The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 is a United States federal law passed in response to the recent major corporate and accounting scandals including those at Enron, Tyco International, and WorldCom (now MCI). These scandals resulted in a decline of public trust in accounting and reporting practices. Named after sponsors Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Representative Michael G. Oxley (R-Oh.), the Act was approved by the House by a vote of 423-3 and by the Senate 99-0. The legislation is wide-ranging and establishes new or enhanced standards for all U.S. public company Boards, Management, and public accounting firms. The first and most important part of the Act establishes a new quasi-public agency, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which is charged with overseeing and disciplining accounting firms in their roles as auditors of public companies. Some of the major provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s include:

    • Certification of financial reports by chief executive officers and chief financial officers
    • Auditor independence, including outright bans on certain types of work for audit clients and pre-certification by the company’s Audit Committee of all other non-audit work
    • A requirement that companies listed on stock exchanges have fully independent audit committees that oversee the relationship between the company and its auditor
    • Significantly longer maximum jail sentences and larger fines for corporate executives who knowingly and willfully misstate financial statements, although maximum sentences are largely irrelevant because judges generally follow the Federal Sentencing Guidelines in setting actual sentences
    • Employee protections allowing those corporate fraud whistleblowers who file complaints with OSHA within 90 days, to win reinstatement, back pay and benefits, compensatory damages, abatement orders, and reasonable attorney fees and costs.
     

  • »What is financial window dressing?«

  • TorontoSEO 8:52 PM on September 15, 2011 Permalink |
    Tags: , deferred maintenance, , , net income, , , , , , , What is financial window dressing, window dressing   

    What is financial window dressing?

    Financial managers can do certain things to increase or decrease net income that’s recorded in the year. This is called profit smoothing, income smoothing or just plain old window dressing. This isn’t the same as fraud, or cooking the books.

    Most profit smoothing involves pushing some amount of revenue and/or expenses into other years than they would normally be recorded. A common technique for profit smoothing is to delay normal maintenance and repairs. This is referred to as deferred maintenance. Many routine and recurring maintenance costs required for autos, trucks, machines, equipment and buildings can be delayed, or deferred until later.

    A business that spends a significant amount of money for employee training and development may delay these programs until the next year so the expense in the current year is lower.

    A company can cut back on its current year’s outlays for market research and product development.

    A business can ease up on its rules regarding when slow-paying customers are written off to expense as bad debts or uncollectible accounts receivable. The business can put off recording some of its bad debts expense until the next reporting year.

    A fixed asset that is not being actively used may have very little current or future value to a business. Instead of writing off the un-depreciated cost of the impaired asset as a loss in the current year, the business might delay the write-off until the next year.

    You can see how manipulating the timing of certain expenses can make an impact on net income. This isn’t illegal although companies can go too far in massaging the numbers so that its financial statements are misleading. For the most part though, profit smoothing isn’t much more than robbing Peter to pay Paul. Accountants refer to these as compensatory effects. The effects next year offset and cancel out the effects in the current year. Less expense this year is balanced by more expense the next year.

     

  • »Measuring Costs«

  • TorontoSEO 8:16 PM on September 6, 2011 Permalink |
    Tags: , Cost accounting, , Measuring, Measuring Costs, product costs, , , specific products, , , ,   

    Measuring Costs

    Measuring profits or net income is the most important thing accountants do. The second most important task is measuring costs. Costs are extremely important to running a business and managing them effectively can make a substantial difference in a company’s bottom line.

    Any business that sells products needs to know its product costs and depending on what is being manufactured and/or sold, it can get complicated. Every step in the production process has to be tracked carefully from start to finish. Many manufacturing costs cannot be directly matched with particular products; these are called indirect costs. To calculate the full cost of each product manufactured, accountants devise methods for allocating indirect production costs to specific products. Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) provide few guidelines for measuring product cost.

    Accountants need to determine many other costs, in addition to product costs, such as the costs of the departments and other organizational units of the business; the cost of the retirement plan for the company’s employees; the cost of marketing and advertising; the cost of restructuring the business or the cost of a major recall of products sold by the company, should that ever become necessary.

    Cost accounting serves two broad purposes: measuring profit and furnishing relevant information to managers. What makes it confusing is that there’s no one set method for measuring and reporting costs, although accuracy is paramount. Cost accounting can fall anywhere on a continuum between conservative or expansive. The phrase actual cost depends entirely on the particular methods used to measure cost. These can often be as subjective and nebulous as some systems for judging sports. Again accuracy is extremely important. The total cost of goods or products sold is the first and usually largest expense deducted from sales revenue in measuring profit.

     

  • »What are other ratios used in financial reporting«

  • TorontoSEO 5:25 AM on September 6, 2011 Permalink |
    Tags: , Book value per share, , , current liabilities, dividend, dividend yield ratio, , , , stock investment, , , , What are other ratios used in financial reporting   

    What are other ratios used in financial reporting

    The dividend yield ratio tells investors how much cash income they’re receiving on their stock investment in a business. This is calculated by dividing the annual cash dividend per share by the current market price of the stock. This can be compared with the interest rate on high-grade debt securities that pay interest, such as Treasure bonds and Treasury notes, which are the safest.

    Book value per share is calculated by dividing total owners’ equity by the total number of stock shares that are outstanding. While EPS is more important to determine the market value of a stock, book value per share is the measure of the recorded value of the company’s assets less its liabilities, the net assets backing up the business’s stock shares. It’s possible that the market value of a stock could be less than the book value per share.

    The return on equity (ROE) ratio tells how much profit a bus8iness earned in comparison to the book value of its stockholders’ equity. This ratio is especially useful for privately owned businesses, which have no way of determining the current value of owners’ equity. ROE is also calculated for public corporations, but it plays a secondary role to other ratios. ROE is calculated by dividing net income by owners’ equity.

    The current ratio is a measure of a business’s short-term solvency, in other words, its ability to pay it liabilities that come due in the near future. This ratio is a rough indicator of whether cash on hand plus the cash to be collected from accounts receivable and from selling inventory will be enough to pay off the liabilities that will come due in the next period. It is calculated by dividing the current assets by the current liabilities. Businesses are expected to maintain a minimum 2:1 current ratio, which means its current assets should be twice its current liabilities.

     

  • »What does an audit report contain?«

  • TorontoSEO 5:18 AM on September 2, 2011 Permalink |
    Tags: adverse opinion, audit report, audit reports, , auditor's report, , , , , , , , , , What does an audit report contain?   

    What does an audit report contain?

    Most audit reports on financial statements give the business a clean bill of health, or a clean opinion. At the other end of the spectrum, the auditor may state that the financial statements are misleading and should not be relied upon. This negative audit report is called an adverse opinion. That’s the big stick that auditors carry. They have the power to give a company’s financial statements an adverse opinion and no business wants that. The threat of an adverse opinion almost always motivates a business to give way to the auditor and change its accounting or disclosure in order to avoid getting the kiss of death of an adverse opinion. An adverse audit opinion says that the financial statements of the business are misleading. The SEC does not tolerate adverse opinions by auditors of public businesses; it would suspend trading in a company’s stock share if the company received an adverse opinion from its CPA auditor.

    One modification to an auditor’s report is very serious – when the CPA firm says that it has substantial doubts about the capability of the business to continue as a going concern. A going concern is a business that has sufficient financial wherewithal and momentum to continue it normal operations into the foreseeable future and would be able to absorb a bad turn of events without having to default on its liabilities. A going concern does not face an imminent financial crisis or any pressing financial emergency. A business could be under some financial distress but overall still be judged a going concern. Unless there is evidence to the contrary, the CPA auditor assumes that the business is a going concern. If an auditor has serious concerns about whether the business is a going concern, these doubts are spelled out in the auditor’s report.

     

  • »What is earnings per share«

  • TorontoSEO 8:10 PM on September 1, 2011 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , , , stock share, , , , What is earnings per share   

    What is earnings per share

    Publicly owned companies must report earnings per share (EPS) below the net income line in their income statements. This is mandated by generally accepted accounting practices (GAAP). The EPS gives investors a means of determining the amount the business earned on its stock share investments. In other words, EPS tells investors how much net income the business earned for each stock share they own. It’s calculated by dividing net income by the total number of capital stock share. It’s important to the stockholders who want the net income of the business to be communicated to them on a per share basis so they can compare it with the market price of their shares.

    Private businesses don’t have to report EPS because stockholders focus more on the business’s total net income.

    Publicly-held companies actually report two EPS figures, unless they have what’s known as a simple capital structure. Most publicly-held companies though, have complex capital structures and have to report two EPS figures. One is called the basic EPS; the other is called the diluted EPS. Basic EPS is based on the number of stock shares that are outstanding. Diluted earnings are based on shares that are outstanding and shares that may be issued in the future in the form of stock options.

    Obviously this is a complicated process. An accountant has to adjust the EPS formula for any number of occurrences or changes in the business. A business might issue additional stock shares during the year and buy back some of its own shares. Or it might issue several classes of stock, which will cause net income to be divided into two or more pools – one pool for each class of stock. A merger, acquisition or divestiture will also impact the formula for EPS.

     

  • »Who uses forensic accountants?«

  • TorontoSEO 8:52 PM on September 20, 2010 Permalink |
    Tags: , forensic accountants, , , , , , , , , , Who uses forensic accountants   

    Who uses forensic accountants?

    Forensic accounting financial investigative specialists work with financial information for the purpose of conveying complicated issues in a manner that others can easily understand. While some forensic accountants and forensic accounting specialists are engaged in the public practice of forensic examination, others work in private industry for such entities as banks and insurance companies or governmental entities such as sheriff and police departments, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

    The occupational fraud committed by employees usually involves the theft of assets. Embezzlement has been the most often committed fraud for the last 30 years. Employees may be involved in kickback schemes, identity theft, or conversion of corporate assets for personal use. The forensic accountant couples observation of the suspected employees with physical examination of assets, invigilation, inspection of documents, and interviews of those involved. Experience on these types of engagements enables the forensic accountant to offer suggestions as to internal controls that owners could implement to reduce the likelihood of fraud.

    At times, the forensic accountant may be hired by attorneys to investigate the financial trail of persons suspected of engaging in criminal activity. Information provided by the forensic accountant may be the most effective way of obtaining convictions. The forensic accountant may also be engaged by bankruptcy court when submitted financial information is suspect or if employees (including managers) are suspected of taking assets.

    Opportunities for qualified forensic accounting professionals abound in private companies. CEOs must now certify that their financial statements are faithful representations of the financial position and results of operations of their companies and rely more heavily on internal controls to detect any misstatement that would otherwise be contained in these financials.

    In addition to these activities, forensic accountants may be asked to determine the amount of the loss sustained by victims, testify in court as an expert witness and assist in the preparation of visual aids and written summaries for use in court.

     

  • »Disclosure«

  • TorontoSEO 8:52 PM on September 16, 2010 Permalink |
    Tags: , , Disclosure, , , , , , , ,   

    Disclosure

    Financial statements are the backbone of a complete financial report. In fact, a financial report is not complete if the three primary financial statements are not included. but a financial report is much more than just those statements. A financial report requires disclosures. This term refers to additional information provided in a financial report. Therefore, any comprehensive and ethical financial report must include not only the primary financial statements, but disclosures as well.

    The chief executive of a business (usually the CEO in a publicly held corporation) has the primary responsibility to make sure that the financial statements have been prepared according to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and the financial report provides adequate disclosures. He or she works with the chief financial officer or controller of the business to make sure that the financial report meets the standard of adequate disclosures.

    Some common methods of disclosures include:

    –Footnotes that provide information about the basic figures. Nearly all financial statements require footnotes to provide additional information for several of the account balances in the financial statements.

    –Supplementary financial schedules and tables that provide more details than can be included in the body of the financial statements.

    –Other information may be required if the business is a public corporation subject to federal regulations regarding financial reporting to its stockholders. Other information is voluntary and not strictly required legally or according to GAAP.

    Some disclosures are required by various governing boards and agencies. These include:

    –The financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has designated many standards. Its dictate regarding disclosure of the effects of stock options is one such standard.
    –The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) mandates disclosure of a broad range of information for publicly held companies.
    –International businesses have to abide by disclosure standards adopted by the International Accounting Standards Board.

     
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