Financial Assets

What are Financial Assets?

The financial assets can be defined as an investment asset whose value is derived from a contractual claim of what they represent. These are liquid assets as the economic resources or ownership can be converted into something of value, such as cash. These are also referred to as financial instruments or securities. They are widely used to finance real estate and ownership of tangible assets.

These are legal claims, and these legal contracts are subject to future cash at a predefined maturity value and predetermined time frame.

Financial-Assets

Types of Financial Assets

These all can be classified in different categories according to the features of the cash flow associated with them.

#1 – Certificate of Deposit (CD)

This financial asset is an agreement between an investor (here, company) and a bank institution in which the customer (Company) keep a set amount of money deposited in the bank for the agreed term in exchange for a guaranteed rate of interest.

#2 – Bonds

This financial asset is usually a debt instrument sold by companies or the government to raise funds for short-term projects. A bond is a legal document that states money the investor has lent the borrower and the amount when it needs to be paid back (plus interest) and the bond’s maturity date.

#3 – Stocks

Stocks do not have any maturity date. Investing in stocks of a company means participating in the ownership of the company and sharing its profits and losses. Stocks belong to shareholders until and unless they sell them.

#4 – Cash or Cash Equivalent

This type of financial asset is the cash or equivalent reserved with the organization.

#5 – Bank Deposits

These are the cash reserve of the organization with Banks in saving and checking accounts.

#6 – Loans & Receivables

Loans and Receivables are those assets with fixed or determinable payments. For banks, loans are such assets as they sell them to other parties as their business.

#7 – Derivatives

Derivatives are financial assets whose value is derived from other underlying assets. These are basically contracts.

All the above assets are liquid assets as they can be converted into their respective values as per the contractual claims of what they represent. They do not necessarily have inherent physical worth like land, property, commodities, etc.

Financial Assets Classification

There is no single measurement classification technique that is suitable for all these assets. It can be classified as Current Assets or Non-Current Assets on a company’s balance sheet.

#1 –  Current Assets

It contains those investment assets which are short term in nature and are liquid investments.

Financial Asset - Current Assets

source: Microsoft.com

#2 – Non-Current Assets

Non-Current assets like shares of other companies or debt instruments held in portfolio for more than a year.

Financial Asset - Long Term assets

source: Microsoft.com

Advantages

  • Some of these assets, which are highly liquid, can easily be used to pay bills or to cover financial emergencies. Cash and cash equivalents come under this category. On the other hand, one may have to wait for the stock to get money as they have to be sold in exchange first, followed by settlement.
  • For investors, it gives them more security when they have more capital parked in liquid assets.
  • It serves as a major economic function of financing tangible assets. It becomes possible with the transfer of funds from those who have a surplus of it to where it is needed for such financing.
  • Financial assets distribute the risk as per preferences and risk appetite of the parties involved in the intangible asset’s investment. It represents legal claims to future cash expected generally at a defined maturity and defined rate. The counter-parties involved in the agreement are the company that will pay the future cash (issuer) and the investors.

Disadvantages and Limitations

  • Financial assets (liquid assets) like deposits in savings accounts and checking accounts with banks are greatly limited when it comes to its return on investment, as there are no restrictions for their withdrawal.
  • Furthermore, these assets like CDs and money market accounts may prevent withdrawal for months or years as per the agreement, or they are callable.
  • It majorly comes with a maturity date in the contract, attempting to cash out assets before maturity calls for penalties and lower returns.

Important Points

  • The value of this asset is determined by the demand and supply of such assets in the market.
  • These assets are valued as per the cash required to convert them, which again is decided based on certain parameters. The value of people’s financial assets can change significantly, especially in the case they have invested majorly in stocks.
  • The measurement of financial assets cannot be done using a single measurement method. Suppose we measure stocks when investments are small in quantum, the market price can be considered to measure the value of the stock at that time. However, if a company owns a large number of shares of other companies, the market price of the share is not relevant because the investor holding majority shares may not sell them.
  • Every financial asset has different risks and returns for its purchaser. For instance, a car company usually has no idea of the sale of its cars, so the value of stocks of the company may increase or decrease. A bond can default as issuers may fail to pay back the par value of a bond. Even cash and savings accounts have risks associated, as inflation may have an impact on purchasing power.

Conclusion

These are a crucial part of any organization. It always needs to have a good record of its financial assets so that is can be put to use whenever needed, like in financial emergencies. It is helpful to keep a check on the availability of such assets.

Each and every financial asset has a different but particular goal for the holder, each has a different amount of risk associated with it, and thus, returns are also different based on risk for the purchaser of such asset. Since each type of asset has some reward & risk associated with it, it’s always advisable to keep a mix of different asset types to have an optimal portfolio. It helps in the proper functioning of the organization without any dearth of assets.

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