Assets in Accounting

What are Assets in Accounting?

Assets in accounting are the medium through which business can be undertaken, are either tangible or intangible and have a monetary value that can be associated with it due to the economic benefits that can be derived from them. Examples of Assets include Property, Plant and Equipment, Vehicles, Cash and Cash Equivalents, Accounts Receivables, and Inventory.

Following are the characteristics of assets:

  • It is owned and controlled by the enterprise.
  • It provides a probable future economic benefit.

Types of Assets in Accounting

Assets can be of 2 types:

  1. Current Assets
  2. Non-Current Assets.

Based on the maturity of the asset, it can be classified as Current (if maturing in 12 months from the reporting date) or as Non-Current (if maturing beyond 12 months from the reporting date).

There are various kinds of components of Current as well as Non-Current assets, which are as follows:

Current Assets Non-Current Assets
Cash and Cash Equivalent Property, Plant, and Equipment
Trade Receivables Intangibles
Readily Marketable securities Long term Lease obligations
Stock in trade Investment in Subsidiaries
Deposits Deferred Tax Assets
Prepaid Liabilities Derivative Assets

Accounting of Assets

Globally, all corporates have to calculate their assets as well as liabilities based on the given set of instructions and guidelines. They have given a set of instructions for each of the above components,s which is to be followed while calculating them.

However, the total asset figure is the sum total of all the above-mentioned components of the assets duly calculated as per the set of rules. Let’s understand some examples of assets accounting.

Assets in Accounting

Example #1

The following are the components of the assets of Amazon.com, Inc as of 31st Dec 2017.

Cash of $ 19334 Mn, Marketable Securities of $ 6,647 Mn, Inventories of 11,461 Mn, Trade receivable of $ 8,339 Mn, Property Plant and Equipment of $ 29,114 Mn, Goodwill of $ 3,784 Mn and Other assets of 4,723 Mn.

Calculation of Total assets in accounting is as follows,

Example 1

Total Assets of the company = $19,334 Mn + $ 6,647 Mn + $ 11,461 Mn + $ 8,339 Mn + $ 29,114 Mn + $ 3,784 Mn + $ 4,723 Mn = $ 83,402 Mn

Hence, Amazon.com, Inc has total assets of $ 83,402 Mn as of 31st Dec 2017.

Example #2

Following are the components of the BP group of companies as on 31st Dec 2017, please calculate current assets, Non-current assets, and Total Assets:

Property Plant and Equipment of $ 129,471 Mn, Intangibles of $ 29,906 Mn, Investment in Subsidiaries of $ 26,230 Mn, Derivative Financial Instruments of $ 4,110 Mn, Deferred Tax payments of $ 4,469 Mn, Inventories of $ 19,011 Mn, Trade Receivable of $ 24,849 Mn, Cash and Cash Equivalent of $ 25,586 Mn.

Calculation of current assets in accounting is as follows,

Example 2.1

Current Assets= $ 19,011 Mn + $ 24,849 Mn + $ 25,586 Mn = $ 69,446 Mn

Calculation of non current assets in accounting is as follows,

Example 2.2

Non-Current Assets = $ 129,471 Mn + $ 29,906 Mn+ $ 26,230 Mn + $ 4,110 Mn + $ 4,469 Mn = $ 194,186 Mn

Calculation of Total assets in accounting is as follows,

Example 2.3

Thus, Total Assets= $ 263,632 Mn

Hence, the BP group of companies has total assets worth $ 263,632 Mn as of 31st Dec 2017.

Limitations

  • Consideration to only Monetary Factors, it ignores non-monetary factors. Hence intangibles such as self-developed patent valuation will always be in doubt of improper calculation.
  • Historical based accounting, hence present market value is not available in the financial statement.
  • Depreciation method, it is on the management to choose the depreciation method for property plant and equipment. Due to this, comparability is not possible.
  • Estimates are considered while assuming the useful life, scrap value, etc. professional judgments are used to estimate the figures, which are highly subjective in nature.

Change in Assets in Accounting

The value of assets keeps on changing from year to year. There are numerical factors that can affect the values of the assets.

  • Depreciation and amortization – One has to determine the method of depreciation of PPE by considering the nature of assets, their useful life, and scrap value. For amortization, one has to consider the nature of intangibles, its ownership, and how the intangibles will help the entity in gaining revenue.
  • Impairment of assets– Impairment means to deplete the value based on the change in market factors. It is considering when the book value of the asset is less than the market value of the asset.
  • Obsoleting of technology – Machinery is highly dependent on the version of the technology prevailing in the market. Hence, any depletion, obsolescence will lead to a change in the value.
  • Sale of an asset– This is one of the most common scenarios in which an entity sells the assets either for replacement or for the diversification. The main thing one has to determine while recording the sale of an asset is gain on sale, market rate, and stamp duty value.
  • Change in the useful life of the asset – Many factors like depreciation, impairment, or capacity of assets are highly dependent on the useful life estimate. Any change in the same will be needed to be considered judiciously. Also, taking professional or actuarial opinions while estimating the useful life will add to the authenticity of the estimates.
  • Change in the statutory requirement to change the disclosure – Accounting of the assets is always happen under the strict guidelines of IFRS, GAAP, and local laws. Disclosure and valuation will be dependent on these rules. Any change in them will directly require a change in the disclosure and valuation in the statements.

Conclusion

Assets represent the owned assets that an entity is having, utilizing which company will be able to meet its all the future liabilities. Hence, it is of utmost critical in determining the value of assets and to check the assumptions used in calculating the same.

In the past, there are several instances that assets were misrepresented, and financial statements were window dressed in order to obtain the funding’s from the financial institutions. Hence, while reading the assets in balance sheets, one should read notes to accounts accurately, considering all the disclaimers provided by auditors and board of directors.

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This has been a guide to What are Assets in Accounting. Here we discuss types and examples of assets in accounting, its limitations as well as factors that affect the value of assets.  You can learn more about accounting from the following articles-

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