Monthly Archives: July 2017

Debt

Debt is money owed by one party, the borrower or debtor, to a second party, the lender or creditor. The borrower may be a sovereign state or country, local government, company, or an individual. The lender may be a bank, credit card company, payday loan provider, or an individual. Debt is generally subject to contractual terms regarding the amount and timing of repayments of principal and interest. A simple way to understand interest is to see it as the “rent” a person owes on money that they have borrowed, to the bank from which they borrowed the money. Loans, bonds, notes, and mortgages are all types of debt. The term can also be used metaphorically to cover moralobligations and other interactions not based on economic value. For example, in Western cultures, a person who has been helped by a second person is sometimes said to owe a “debt of gratitude” to the second person.

A company may use various kinds of debt to finance its operations as a part of its overall corporate finance strategy. A term loan is the simplest form of corporate debt. It consists of an agreement to lend a fixed amount of money, called the principal sum or principal, for a fixed period of time, with this amount to be repaid by a certain date. In commercial loans interest, calculated as a percentage of the principal sum per year, will also have to be paid by that date, or may be paid periodically in the interval, such as annually or monthly. Such loans are also colloquially called “bullet loans”, particularly if there is only a single payment at the end – the “bullet” – without a “stream” of interest payments during the life of the loan. A syndicated loan is a loan that is granted to companies that wish to borrow more money than any single lender is prepared to risk in a single loan. A syndicated loan is provided by a group of lenders and is structured, arranged, and administered by one or several commercial banks or investment banks known as arrangers. Loan syndication is a risk management tool that allows the lead banksunderwriting the debt to reduce their risk and free up lending capacity. A company may also issue bonds, which are debt securities. Bonds have a fixed lifetime, usually a number of years; with long-term bonds, lasting over 30 years, being less common. At the end of the bond’s life the money should be repaid in full. Interest may be added to the end payment, or can be paid in regular installments during the life of the bond.

A letter of credit or LC can also be the source of payment for a transaction, meaning that redeeming the letter of credit will pay an exporter. Letters of credit are used primarily in international trade transactions of significant value, for deals between a supplier in one country and a customer in another. They are also used in the land development process to ensure that approved public facilities will be built. The parties to a letter of credit are usually a beneficiary who is to receive the money, the issuing bank of whom the applicant is a client, and the advising bank of whom the beneficiary is a client. Almost all letters of credit are irrevocable, i.e., cannot be amended or canceled without prior agreement of the beneficiary, the issuing bank and the confirming bank, if any. In executing a transaction, letters of credit incorporate functions common togiros and traveler’s cheque. Typically, the documents a beneficiary has to present in order to receive payment include a commercial invoice, bill of lading, and a document proving the shipment was insured against loss or damage in transit. However, the list and form of documents is open to imagination and negotiation and might contain requirements to present documents issued by a neutral third party evidencing the quality of the goods shipped, or their place of origin. Companies also use debt in many ways to leverage the investment made in their assets, “leveraging” the return on their equity. This leverage, the proportion of debt to equity, is considered important in determining the riskiness of an investment; the more debt per equity, the riskier.

Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is the recording of financial transactions, and is part of the process of accounting in business. Transactions include purchases, sales, receipts, and payments by an individual person or an organization/corporation. There are several standard methods of bookkeeping, such as the single-entry bookkeeping system and the double-entry bookkeeping system, but, while they may be thought of as “real” bookkeeping, any process that involves the recording of financial transactions is a bookkeeping process. Bookkeeping is usually performed by a bookkeeper. A bookkeeper is a person who records the day-to-day financial transactions of a business. He or she is usually responsible for writing the daybooks, which contain records of purchases, sales, receipts, and payments. The bookkeeper is responsible for ensuring that all transactions whether it is cash transaction or credit transaction are recorded in the correct daybook, supplier’s ledger, customer ledger, and general ledger; an accountant can then create reports from the information concerning the financial transactions recorded by the bookkeeper. The bookkeeper brings the books to the trial balance stage: an accountant may prepare the income statement and balance sheetusing the trial balance and ledgers prepared by the bookkeeper.

A daybook is a descriptive and chronological record of day-to-day financial transactions also called a book of original entry. The daybook’s details must be entered formally into journals to enable posting to ledgers. Daybooks include:

  • Sales daybook, for recording all the sales invoices.
  • Sales credits daybook, for recording all the sales credit notes.
  • Purchases daybook, for recording all the purchase invoices.
  • Purchases Debits daybook, for recording all the purchase Debit notes.
  • Cash daybook, usually known as the cash book, for recording all money received as well as money paid out. It may be split into two daybooks: receipts daybook for money received in, and payments daybook for money paid out.
  • General Journal daybook, for recording journals.

The bookkeeping process primarily records the financial effects of transactions. The difference between a manual and any electronic accounting system results from the former’slatency between the recording of a financial transaction and its posting in the relevant account. This delay—absent in electronic accounting systems due to nearly instantaneous posting into relevant accounts—is a basic characteristic of manual systems, thus giving rise to primary books of accounts such as Cash Book, Bank Book, Purchase Book, and Sales Book for recording the immediate effect of a financial transaction.

In the normal course of business, a document is produced each time a transaction occurs. Sales and purchases usually have invoices or receipts. Deposit slips are produced when lodgements (deposits) are made to a bank account. Checks (spelled “cheques” in the UK and several other countries) are written to pay money out of the account. Bookkeeping first involves recording the details of all of these source documents into multi-column journals (also known as books of first entry or daybooks). For example, all credit sales are recorded in the sales journal; all cash payments are recorded in the cash payments journal. Each column in a journal normally corresponds to an account. In thesingle entry system, each transaction is recorded only once. Most individuals who balance their check-book each month are using such a system, and most personal-finance software follows this approach.

As a partial check that the posting process was done correctly, a working document called an unadjusted trial balance is created. In its simplest form, this is a three-column list. Column One contains the names of those accounts in the ledger which have a non-zero balance. If an account has a debit balance, the balance amount is copied into Column Two (the debit column); if an account has a credit balance, the amount is copied into Column Three (the credit column). The debit column is then totalled, and then the credit column is totalled. The two totals must agree—which is not by chance—because under the double-entry rules, whenever there is a posting, the debits of the posting equal the credits of the posting. If the two totals do not agree, an error has been made, either in the journals or during the posting process. The error must be located and rectified, and the totals of the debit column and the credit column recalculated to check for agreement before any further processing can take place.

Once the accounts balance, the accountant makes a number of adjustments and changes the balance amounts of some of the accounts. These adjustments must still obey the double-entry rule: for example, the inventory account and asset account might be changed to bring them into line with the actual numbers counted during a stocktake. At the same time, the expense account associated with usage of inventory is adjusted by an equal and opposite amount. Other adjustments such as posting depreciation and prepayments are also done at this time. This results in a listing called the adjusted trial balance. It is the accounts in this list, and their corresponding debit or credit balances, that are used to prepare the financial statements.

Finally financial statements are drawn from the trial balance, which may include:

  • the income statement, also known as the statement of financial results, profit and loss account, or P&L
  • the balance sheet, also known as the statement of financial position
  • the cash flow statement
  • the Statement of changes in equity, also known as the statement of total recognised gains and losses

Financial Statement

Financial statements is a formal record of the financial activities and position of a business, person, or other entity. Relevant financial information is presented in a structured manner and in a form easy to understand. They typically include basic financial statements, accompanied by a management discussion and analysis:

  1. A balance sheet or statement of financial position, reports on a company’s assets, liabilities, and owners equity at a given point in time.
  2. An income statement or statement of comprehensive income, statement of revenue & expense, P&L or profit and loss report, reports on a company’s income, expenses, and profits over a period of time. A profit and loss statement provides information on the operation of the enterprise. These include sales and the various expenses incurred during the stated period.
  3. A Statement of changes in equity or equity statement or statement of retained earnings, reports on the changes inequity of the company during the stated period.
  4. A cash flow statement reports on a company’s cash flow activities, particularly its operating, investing and financing activities.

For large corporations, these statements may be complex and may include an extensive set of footnotes to the financial statements and management discussion and analysis. The notes typically describe each item on the balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement in further detail. Notes to financial statements are considered an integral part of the financial statements.  Management discussion and analysis or MD&A is an integrated part of a company’s annual financial statements. The purpose of the MD&A is to provide a narrative explanation, through the eyes of management, of how an entity has performed in the past, its financial condition, and its future prospects. In so doing, the MD&A attempt to provide investors with complete, fair, and balanced information to help them decide whether to invest or continue to invest in an entity. The section contains a description of the year gone by and some of the key factors that influenced the business of the company in that year, as well as a fair and unbiased overview of the company’s past, present, and future. MD&A typically describes the corporation’s liquidity position, capital resources, results of its operations, underlying causes of material changes in financial statement items, events of unusual or infrequent nature, positive and negative trends, effects of inflation, domestic and international market risks, and significant uncertainties.

Financial statements have been created on paper for hundreds of years. The growth of the Web has seen more and more financial statements created in an electronic form which is exchangeable over the Web. Common forms of electronic financial statements are PDF and HTML. These types of electronic financial statements have their drawbacks in that it still takes a human to read the information in order to reuse the information contained in a financial statement. More recently a market driven global standard, XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language), which can be used for creating financial statements in a structured and computer readable format, has become more popular as a format for creating financial statements. Many regulators around the world such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissionhave mandated XBRL for the submission of financial information. The UN/CEFACT created, with respect to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, (GAAP), internal or external financial reporting XML messages to be used between enterprises and their partners, such as private interested parties and public collecting bodies. Many regulators use such messages to collect financial and economic information.

Financial Accounting

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is a private, non-profit organization standard setting body whose primary purpose is to establish and improve generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) within the United States in the public’s interest. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) designated the FASB as the organization responsible for setting accounting standards for public companies in the U.S. The FASB replaced the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ (AICPA) Accounting Principles Board (APB) on July 1, 1973.

In 2009 Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and others claimed that the FASB succumbed to “political pressure” and lobbyists and tweaked mark-to-market accounting to accommodate “banks with toxic assets on their books.” Since 2009 the FASB added the disclosure framework project to its conceptual framework in order to make financial statement disclosures “more effective and coordinated and less redundant. As part of this process, in September 2015 the FASB issued a controversial proposal regarding “the use of materiality by reporting entities” and an amendment of the definition of the legal conceptmateriality. Materiality is “a mainstay of corporate financial disclosure that determines what a company must tell investors about its operations and result. Harvard professor, Karthik Ramanna and lawyer, Allen Dreschel claim FASB’s proposed revised definition of materiality “could put the economy at greater risk of another huge accounting fraud, like Enron or Lehman Brothers” by weakening disclosure which is “the cornerstone of fair and efficient markets.” For example, if the new proposal is enacted—a pharmaceutical company would be allowed to not disclose to its investors that its new drug in the pipeline performed poorly in drug trials because there is a “substantial likelihood” that the information could sway investment decisions. Some Fortune 500 companies and the United States Chamber of Commerce argue that investors and companies suffer from “disclosure overload.”

FASB and the International Accounting Standard Board are working closely together to develop a common Conceptual Framework. The goal is develop standards that are objectives-based, internally consistent, and internationally converged. Currently Statement of Financial Accounting Concepts No. 8 “Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting” is being used in the United States. The Conceptual Framework include: measurement attributes used to measure and report economic transactions, events, and arrangements in financial statements; and accounting principles and assumptions that guide recognition, derecognition, and disclosure, as well as the classification and presentation of information in financial statements.

Fundamental qualitative characteristics, relevance and faithful representation allow for decision usefulness. Information that is capable of making a difference in decisions made by financial statement users is relevant. The three components of relevance are:

  • Predictive Value – information that should help users form expectations about the value
  • Confirmatory Value – information that provides feedback to confirm or correct prior predictions and expectations
  • Materiality – refers to the nature and magnitude of an omission or misstatement of accounting information that would influence the judgment of a reasonable person relying on that information

Faithful representation is when the words and numbers accurately predict the economic substance of what they purport to represent. The three components of faithful representation are:

  • Complete representation – provides a user with full disclosure of all information necessary to understand the information being reported, with all necessary facts, descriptions, and explanations
  • Neutral representation – not biased, slanted, emphasized or otherwise manipulated to achieve a pre-determined result or to influence users’ behavior in a particular direction
  • Free from error – the information is measured and described as accurately as possible, using a process that reflects the best available inputs