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The future of accounting
The traditional view of accountants as merely 'bean counters' is slowly becoming a thing of the past. For centuries, accountant have been employed to report on the numbers. They have sat there in their little corner, surrounded by stacks of paper and computer printouts, and have told us whether or not we have made a profit. But more and more, accountants are finding that management doesn't need them to report on the numbers. With today's technology, management already has access to software programs which do this work for them.
So what will the future accountant do? According to Mr Hamilton-Smythe, the Managing Director of KHZ Enterprises, the large international rnanufacturing company, accountants will be employed "to help companies change the numbers. Their expertise, and knowledge of the business will be called upon to prepare strategies. They will become consultants and advisers. And their skills will need to change accordingly. They will be involved in international meetings, in giving presentations, running international teams, writing reports, and making decisions.''
This is going to require a significant change in the general public's opinion of accountants, who in turn will need to develop skills not traditionally associated with the job. The image of the guy in the corner with the slacks of paper will change to one of a high flyer, someone who is critical to the success of the organization.
Now try to use phrases from above to answer questions below :).
1. What skills will you need to be successful in this profession?
2. How will you prepare yourself for the future? [1, p. 41]
Did you know?
The U.K. and the U.S.A. often have different for the same thing. Here are some important examples. Can you think of any others? [1, p.16]
Profit and Loss Statement
Statement of Financial Position
Statement of Earnings
Assets, liabilities and the balance sheet
An asset is something that has value, or the power to earn money. These include:
- current assets: money in the bank, investments that can easily be turned into money, money that customers owe, stocks of goods that are going to be sold.
- fixed assets: equipment, machinery, buildings and land.
- intangible assets: things which you cannot see. For example, goodwill: a company's good reputation with existing customers, and brands: established brands have the power to earn money.
If a company is sold as a going concern, it has value as a profit-making operation, or one that could make a profit.
Look at the text above. What kind of asset is each of the following? Which three are not assets?
1 Vans which a delivery company owns and uses to deliver goods.
2 Vans for sale in a showroom.
3 A showroom owned by a company that sells vans.
4 A Showroom rented by a company that sells cars.
5 Money which customers owe, that will definitely be paid in the next 60 days.
6 Money which a bankrupt customer owes, that will certainly never be paid.
7 The client list of a successful training company, all of which are successful businesses.
8 The client list of a training company, with names of clients that have all gone bankrupt
Joanna Cassidy is head of IT (Information Technology) in a publishing company:
"Assets such as machinery and equipment lose value over tune because they wear out, or are no longer up-to-date. This is called depreciation or amortization. For example, when we buy new computers, we depreciate them or amortize them over a very short period, usually three years, and a charge for this is shown in the financial records: the value of the equipment is written down each year and written off completely at the end. The value of an asset at any one time is its book value. This isn't necessarily the amount that it could be sold for at that time. For example, land or buildings may be worth more than shown in the accounts, because they have increased in value. But computers could only be sold for less than book value.'
Liabilities are a company's debts to suppliers, lenders, the tax authorities, etc. Debts that have to be paid within a year are current liabilities, and those payable in more than a year are long-term liabilities, for example bank loans.
A company's balance sheet gives a picture of its assets and liabilities at the end of a particular period, usually the 12-month period of its financial year. This is not necessarily January to December.
Use the correct forms of words from text above to complete these sentences.
1 The bank had lent too much and was left with a mountain of bad debts: £4.3 billion was .............. (write off / wrote off / written off) last year.
2 Most highway building programs in the US are ....................(amortization / amortize / amortized) over 30 years or more.
3 The company reported a record income of $251.2 million, after a $118 million................ (charge / charged / charges) for reduction in the ...................(book value / books value / booked value) of its oil and gas properties.
4 Under the new law, businesses face five different............. (depreciate / depreciation / depreciations) rules for different types of equipment.
5 The company reported a loss of $ 12.8 million, partly due to a special charge of $1.5 million to .....................(write down / wrote down / written down) the value of its spare parts inventory [2, p.68-69].
Dialogue: profit and cash flow
Read the extract from an international meeting. Two managers (one financial, the other marketing) are discussing the company's cash flow problems.
Michael: We've had a look at the profitability side and we both seem to agree that this year's Profit & Loss Account looks very healthy on the face of it. However, we have continued to have serious cash flow problems and we've got to do something about it. In my opinion, the fundamental problem is our deferred terms of payment - we've still got too big a gap - about 60 days - between paying by our suppliers and receiving payment for sales.
Philip: Yes, that's probably true but I feel there are other underlying problems. One is the asset side of our business - our recent cash flow crisis is particularly due to sudden investment in information technology. Our profitability in a way has been kept artificially high by very low depreciation over the last few years. Now, we can't afford not to invest and it's draining our cash resources.
Michael: I think you're exaggerating, Philip. Depreciation will reduce our profits more during me next couple of years but not to a significant extent. No, in my opinion we're still under-capitalised and we've been over-trading this last year.
Philip: I can't agree with you. Our turnover has increased substantially but our margins have improved dramatically. We've controlled our costs and we've worked hard in the Sales Department to improve our credit control. No, in my view, we are not planning well enough. Look at the crisis we had a few months ago when we received the massive tax bill. I'd like to know why we hadn't retained sufficient funds to pay it. Why did it come as such a shock?
Michael: It didn't come as a shock. It's quite simple. We did retain for tax, but the retention was soaked up as working capital to help fund the sort of growth we've had over the last six months.
Philip: That's exactly my point. No financial planning!
Michael: I resent that. In the circumstances, I think my department is doing its best to ...
Complete Chart 1 by ticking the problems which Michael and Philip analyse as the causes of the cash flow problem [3, p.132-133].
1. Evan Frendo Sean Mahoney. English for Accountin. Express series // Oxford Univesity Pres. - 64 p.
2. Bill Mascull. Business Vocabulary in Use. Intermediate // Cambridge University Press. - 172 p.
3. Ушакова В.Т., Сініцина Н.М. Ділова англійська мова для економістів: Навч. посіб. - У 4-х ч. - Ч. 3. Питання бухгалтерського обліку. - К.: КНЕУ, 2005. - 308 с.