Accountancy Asset Accounts, Asset Accounts Accounting, Asset Accounts Benefits
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In general business, and accounting of it, Asset Accounts are meant as probable future economic benefits controlled by an entity as a result of past transactions or events, and from which future economic benefits may be obtained.
Each account in the Anglo-Saxon chart is classified into one of the five categories:
Assets, Liabilities, Equity, Income and Expenses.
A chart of accounts is a listing of the names of the accounts that a company has identified.
The company makes these accounts available for recording transactions in its general ledger.
A company has the flexibility to tailor its own chart of accounts to best
suit its needs, including adding accounts as needed.
Asset, and accounts it contains, is something possessed by a business entity from which future economic benefits may be obtained.
Assets have three essential characteristics:
- The future benefit that involves a capacity, singly or in combination with other
assets, in the case of profit oriented enterprises, to contribute directly
or indirectly to future net cash flows, and, in the case of not-for-profit organizations,
to provide services.
- The entity can control access to the benefit.
- The transaction or event giving rise to the entity's right to, or control of, the benefit has already occurred.
It is not necessary, in the financial accounting sense of the term, for control
of assets to the benefit to be legally enforceable for a resource to be an
asset, provided the entity can control its use by other means.
It is important to understand that in an accounting sense an asset is not the same as ownership. In accounting, ownership is described by the term "equity," (see the related term shareholders' equity). Assets are equal to "equity" plus "liabilities".
The accounting equation relates assets, liabilities, and owner's equity:
- Assets = Liabilities + Owners' Equity.
The accounting equation is the mathematical structure of the balance sheet.
Assets are usually listed on the balance sheet. It has a normal balance,
or usual balance, of debit (i.e., asset account amounts appear on the left side
of a ledger).
Similarly, in economics an asset is any form in which wealth can be held.
Probably the most accepted accounting definition of asset is the one used by the International Accounting Standards Board. The following is a quotation from the IFRS Framework: "An asset is a resource controlled by the enterprise as a result of past events and from which future economic benefits are expected to flow to the enterprise".
Assets are formally controlled and managed within larger organizations via the use of asset tracking tools. These monitor the purchasing, upgrading, servicing, licensing, disposal etc., of both physical and non-physical assets.
Classification of Accounts
Assets may be classified in many ways. In a company's balance sheet certain divisions are required by generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), which vary from country to country.
Current Assets are cash and other assets expected to be converted to cash, sold, or consumed either in a year or in the operating cycle. These assets are continually turned over in the course of a business during normal business activity. There are 5 major items included into current assets:
- Cash and cash equivalents — it is the most liquid asset, which includes currency,
deposit accounts, and negotiable instruments (e.g., money orders, cheque, bank drafts).
- Short-term investments — include securities bought and held for sale in the near
future to generate income on short-term price differences (trading securities).
- Receivables — usually reported as net of allowance for uncollectible accounts.
- Inventory — trading these assets is a normal business of a company. The inventory
value reported on the balance sheet is usually the historical cost or fair market
value, whichever is lower. This is known as the "lower of cost or market" rule.
- Prepaid expenses — these are expenses paid in cash and recorded as assets before they are used or consumed (a common example is insurance). See also adjusting entries.
The phrase net current assets (also called working capital) is often used and refers to the total of current assets less the total of current liabilities.
Often referred to simply as "investments". Long-term investments are to be held for many years and are not intended to be disposed in the near future. This group usually consists of four types of investments:
- Investments in securities, such as bonds, common stock, or long-term notes.
- Investments in fixed assets not used in operations (e.g., land held for sale).
- Investments in special funds (e.g., sinking funds or pension funds).
- Investments in subsidiaries or affiliated companies.
Different forms of insurance may also be treated as long term investments.
Also referred to as PPE (property, plant, and equipment), or tangible assets, these
are purchased for continued and long-term use in earning profit in a business. This
group includes land, buildings, machinery, furniture, tools, and certain wasting
resources e.g., timberland and minerals. They are written off against profits over
their anticipated life by charging depreciation expenses (with exception of land).
Accumulated depreciation is shown in the face of the balance sheet or in the notes.
These are also called capital assets in management accounting.
Intangible assets lack physical substance and usually are very hard to evaluate.
They include patents, copyrights, franchises, goodwill, trademarks, trade names,
etc. These assets are (according to US GAAP) amortized to expense over 5 to 40 years
with the exception of goodwill.
Some assets such as websites are treated differently in different countries and may fall under either tangible or intangible assets.
This section includes a high variety of assets, most commonly:
- Long-term prepaid expenses.
- Long-term receivables.
- Intangible assets (if they represent just a very small fraction of total assets).
- Property held for sales.
In a lot of cases this section is too general and broad, because assets could be classified into four above categories.
Some tips on how to avoid business failure:
- Don't underestimate the capital you need to start up the business.
- Understand and keep control of your finances - income earned is not the same as
cash in hand.
- More volume does not automatically mean more profit - you need to get your pricing
- Make sure you have good software for your business, software that provides you with a good reporting picture of all aspects of your business operations.
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