INTRODUTION TO ACCOUNTING
NATURE OF ACCOUNTING
Accounting is defined as the process of identifying, measuring and reporting economic information to the users of this information to permit informed judgment
Many businesses carry out transactions. Some of these transactions have a financial implication i.e. either cash is received or paid out. Examples of these transactions include selling goods, buying goods, paying employees and so many others.
Accounting is involved with identifying these transactions measuring (attaching a value) and reporting on these transactions. If a firm employs a new staff member then this may not be an accounting transaction. However when the firm pays the employee salary, then this is related to accounting as cash involved. This has an economic impact on the organization and will be recorded for accounting purposes. A process is put in place to collect and record this information; it is then classified and summarized so that it can be reported to the interested parties.
USERS OF ACCOUNTING INFORMATION
Accounting information is produced in form of financial statement. These financial statements provide information about an entity financial position, performance and changes in financial position.
Financial position of a firm is what the resources the business has and how much belongs to the owners and others.
The financial performance reflects how the business has performed, whether it has made profits or losses. Changes in financial positions determine whether the resources have increased or reduced.
The users of accounting information have an interest in the existence of the firm. Therefore the information contained in the financial statements will affect the decision making process.
The following are the users of accounting information:
They have invested in the business and examples of such owners include sole traders, partners (partnerships) and shareholders (company). They would like to have information on the financial performance, financial position and changes in financial position.
This information will enable them to assess how the managers of the business are performing whether the business is profitable or not and whether to make drawings or put in additional capital.
Customers rely on the business for goods and services. They would like to know how the business is performing and its financial position.
This information would enable them to assess whether they can rely on the firm for future supplies.
They supply goods or services to the firm. The supplies are either for cash or credit. The suppliers would like to have information on the financial performance and position so as to assess whether the business would be able to pay up for the goods and services provided as and when the payments falls due.
The managers are involved in the day-to-day activities of the business. They would like to have information on the financial position, performance and changes in financial position so as to determine whether the business is operating as per the plans.
In case the plan is not achieved then the managers come up with appropriate measures (controls) to ensure that the set plans are met.
They have provided loans and others sources of capital to the business. Such lenders include banks and other financial institutions. They would like to have information on the financial performance and position of the business to assess whether the business is profitable enough to pay the interest on loans and whether it has enough resources to pay back the principal amount when it is due.
The Government and its agencies
The Government is interested in the financial performance of the business to be able to assess the tax to be collected in the case there are any profits made the business.
The other government agencies are interested with the financial position and performance of the business to be able to come with National Statistics. This statistics measure the average performance of the economy.
The Financial Analyst and Advisors
Financial analyst and advisors interpret the financial information. Examples include stockbrokers who advise investors on shares to buy in the stock market and other professional consultants like accountants. They are interested with the financial position and performance of the firm so that they can advise their clients on how much is the value their investment i.e. whether it is profitable or not and what is the value.
Others advisors would include the press who will then pass the information to other relevant users.
They work for the business/entity. They would like to have information on the financial position and performance so as to make decisions on their terms of employment. This information would be important as they can use it to negotiate for better terms including salaries, training and other benefits.
They can also use it to assess whether the firm is financially sound and therefore their jobs are secure.
Institutions and other welfare associations and groups represent the public. They are interested with the financial performance of the firm. This information will be important for them to assess how socially responsible is the firm.
This responsibility is in form the employment opportunities the firm offers, charitable activities and the effect of firm’s activities on the environment.
THE ACCOUNTING EQUATION
A business owns properties. These properties are called assets. The assets are the business resources that enable it to trade and carry out trading. They are financed or funded the owners of the business who put in funds.
These funds, including assets that the owner may put is called capital. Other persons who are not owners of the firm may also finance assets. Funds from these sources are called liabilities.
The total assets must be equal to the total funding i.e. both from owners and non-owners. This is expressed inform of accounting equation which is stated as follows:
ASSETS = LIABILITIES + CAPITAL
Each item in this equation is briefly explained below.
An asset is a resource controlled a business entity/firm as a result of past events for which economic benefits are expected to flow to the firm.
An example is if a business sells goods on credit then it has an asset called a debtor. The past event is the sale on credit and the resource is a debtor. This debtor is expected to pay so that economic benefits will flow towards the firm i.e. in form of cash once the customers pays.
Assets are classified into two main types:
- Non- current assets (formerly called fixed assets).
- Current assets.
Non- current assets are acquired the business to assist in earning revenues and not for resale. They are normally expected to be in business for a period of more than one year.
Major examples include:
- Land and buildings
- Plant and machinery
- Fixtures, furniture, fittings and equipment
- Motor vehicles
Current assets are not expected to last for more than one year. They are in most cases directly related to the trading activities of the firm. Examples include:
- Stock of goods – for purpose of selling.
- Trade debtors/accounts receivables – owe the business amounts as a resort of trading.
- Other debtors – owe the firm amounts other than for trading.
- Cash at bank.
- Cash in hand.
These are obligations of a business as a result of past events settlement of which is expected to result to an economic outflow of amounts from the firm. An example is when a business buys goods on credit, then the firm has a liability called creditor. The past event is the credit purchase and the liability being the creditor the firm will pay cash to the creditor and therefore there is an out flow of cash from the business.
Liabilities are also classified into two main classes.
- Non-current liabilities (or long term liabilities)
- Current liabilities.
Non-current liabilities are expected to last or be paid after one year. This includes long-term loans from banks or other financial institutions. Current liabilities last for a period of less than one year and therefore will be paid within one year. Major examples:
- Trade creditors/
or accounts payable – owed amounts as a result of business buying goods on credit.
- Other creditors – owed amounts for services supplied to the firm other than goods.
- Bank overdraft – amounts advanced the bank for a short-term period.