Copyright © 2023 - Azat's Blog Azat's Blog
The Accountant’s Role
In the view of Aswath Damodaran, it is the role of accounting:
- To check transactions and operations, as they occur
- To record them in a consistent manner
- TO report the results in standardized form
Much as accounting wants to makes itself more relevant and central to businesses, it is not the role of accounting:
- Forecast the future, no matter how tempted.
- Value assets or operations.
Bluntly put, an accountant is a historian, chronicling events that have already occurred, not predicting the future.
The Accounting Questions
- What do you own? List out the assets that a business has invested in, and how much it spent on those investments and perhaps what these assets are worth today.
- What do you owe? Specify the contractual commitments that a business has to meet, to stay in business. Simply put, this should include all borrowings, but is not restricted to those.
- How much money did you make? Measure the profitability of the business, both with accounting judgments on expenses, and based upon cash in cash out,
The Accounting Statements
- The balance sheet, which summarizes what a firm owns and owes at a point in time, as well as an estimate of what equity is worth ( through accounting eyes ).
- The income statement, which reports on how much a business earned in the period of analysis, while providing detail on revenues and expenses.
- The statement of cash flows, which reports on cash inflows and outflows to the firm during the period of analysis and allows for a measure of cash earnings ( as opposed to accounting earnings ) and cash flows.
Long term: > 1 year
Short: within a year.
Statement of Cash Flows
The interconnections of balance sheet, statement of income and statement of cash flow
To make sense a company we need to real all 3 statements and their inter connections.
The Accounting Standards
- Accounting is a rule-driven process, and over time, those rules have been formalized, especially for publicly traded companies. This formalized is driven by two considerations:
- Standardization, to allow for a comparisons across companies
- First principles, to ensure that earnings, asset value and cash flows measure what they are supposed to measure.
- While accounting standards around the world remain different, they have converged ( for the most part ) around two standards:
- GAAP ( Generally Accepted Accounting Principles ), representing rules developed by FASB ( Financial Accounting Standards Board ) to cover US financial reporting.
- IFRS ( International Financial Reporting Standards ), representing rules developed by IASB ( International Accounting Standards Board ) for companies listed globally, follows by about 90 countries as of 2020.
The Bottom Line
- The raw material that we use to do financial analysis and valuation almost always takes the form of accounting statements.
- Consequently, it behooves us all to understand how accountants think ( even if we disagree with them ) in putting these statements together.
- The challenge is that accounting thinking keeps changing, as we move through time, and we have to understand those changes ( both the what and the why ), to keep up with them.