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What is an Accounting Standard?

Accounting standards are the practices which make financial information uniform and normalized between various businesses and accounting firms. Accounting standards constitute what is known as GAAP: Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. These may apply to how revenue is recognized, how assets are classified, acceptable methods of depreciating assets, and so on. Some of these are based on IRS opinions and the jurisprudence of the law, some are just industry best-practices that are widely used. Continue reading...

What is the foreign corrupt practices act?

What is the foreign corrupt practices act?

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act attempts to reduce the possibility that a corporation with American affiliations will engage in the bribery of foreign officials. The act was created in 1977 and has since been amended and expanded several times. The SEC and the Department of Justice are both responsible for enforcing the FCPA, which is a law designed to prevent US-based companies from engaging in corrupt practices abroad. Continue reading...

What are Accounting Policies?

Accounting policies are the internal controls of a company which stipulate the methods by which the books will be kept. Accounting policies are the agreed-upon accounting methods, conventions, and practices of an accounting cycle. A business must establish guidelines and training to ensure that accounts are kept in ways that satisfy their needs for documentation, security, liquidity, management, and the observation of applicable laws. Continue reading...

What is Accounts Payable for Accounting?

Accounts Payable is part of the Current Liabilities section of a company’s books. Accounts Payable are the short-term expenses and debts that a company must pay out in the near future. These might include utility bills and regular expenses, debt service, and bills to regular suppliers and vendors. The amounts that appear in the Payables, as they are also called, have not been paid out yet, but are scheduled to be paid within the current quarter, generally. Continue reading...

What is Accounts Receivable for Accounting?

Also simply called Receivables, the Accounts Receivable line on a General Ledger will contain the amounts owed to the company which are due to be received in the near future. If a company offers financing for the items it sells, or it has regular payments coming in for things such as rent, leases, monthly subscription or membership fees, and so on, they will have substantial numbers in their accounts receivable. Continue reading...

What is Account Reconcilement?

Account reconcilement is the act of comparing and affirming multiple records of the same financial information. To “reconcile the books” is to compare different records of the same accounts to ensure that they match up. One might reconcile all the different record-keeping for the same account, such as copies of checks and receipts, to be sure that they add up to the balance and ledger shown on a bank account statement. It could be that the recipient of a check has not yet cashed it, and it is important to keep all records “synced” with one another. Continue reading...

What is Account History?

Account history is a term especially useful for investment accounts, where transactions beyond a current month or year’s records are useful for reference. Most people are familiar with the transaction history that is available for the current month, quarter, or year on an individual’s savings, checking, and credit card accounts. These are often called “activity ledgers” or something similar. Account history that reaches further back might be more useful for investment accounts, where the current value of investments, and their cost basis, will depend heavily on account history from potentially years in the past. This sort of query can be made easily with online investment account viewing software from a broker or custodian company. Continue reading...

What is foreign exchange intervention?

What is foreign exchange intervention?

If a central bank takes actions that intentionally and artificially affect the value of a currency, particularly its own, it is engaging in what is known as a Foreign Exchange Intervention, or an interventionist policy. Central banks occasionally use interventions in foreign exchange markets to achieve a desirable end. The banks will intentionally make trades and hold certain amounts of currencies or derivatives with the sole purpose of manipulating the value of their domestic currency. The reasons for that manipulation might be to slow down inflation or to make their county’s exports look more attractive by pushing the value of their currency lower. Continue reading...

What is an Account Hold?

An Account Hold is similar to the term Account Freeze, as both imply that transactions have been suspended for an account. A client’s financial institution might put a hold on his or her account if the individual is suspected of illegal activity, if the account is overdrawn, or if it is requested by a government entity, such as in a lien by the IRS, among other things. This is slightly different than a “freeze” or “moratorium” on the account. In a freeze, all pending transactions will be canceled and no new requests will be honored. Continue reading...

What is Account Settlement?

Settling an account is laying all outstanding business on an account to rest. Account settlement is an idea that can take a few forms. Settlement is when acceptable “consideration” (compensation or pay) has been provided and both parties agree that the matter is settled, resolved, and no further debts or obligations exist for that item of business. Many people have heard the term “settlement” with regards to legal matters, in which the defendant pays off the plaintiff before an actual trial and usually can avoid officially admitting guilt. Continue reading...

What is Cash Accounting?

Cash Accounting is the accounting method where only finalized transactions are documented. Larger, publicly traded companies are actually not allowed to use Cash Accounting because it can’t keep up with all the Payable, Receivables, and so forth that large companies have to keep on their books. Instead, larger companies are required by the SEC to use Accrual Accounting, which makes ledger entries for cash that has not yet be paid or received, among other things. Continue reading...

What is a Margin Account?

What is a Margin Account?

A margin account is one in which an investor uses borrowed money to purchase additional securities. An investor is almost always required to use the securities in the account as collateral for the borrowed money. The objective of a margin account is for the investor to magnify gains, but the opposite can also be true, and losses may lead the investor to have to sell securities in the account to cover the loan balance. There’s more upside in a margin account, but there’s more downside too. Continue reading...

What is a Lifeline Account?

Lifeline accounts are offered by some banks, and are required in some states to be offered by all banks — they give low-income individuals an opportunity to bank without paying fees or observing a minimum balance. This is done in an effort to promote social mobility by giving everyone access to banking services. You are likely to be able to find a bank that offers free checking accounts anyway, but some states have mandated that banks allow for so-called “lifeline accounts,” which have fewer features than other checking accounts but which may be the only banking option available for low-income banking customers. Continue reading...

What are Accounts Payable?

On a balance sheet, Accounts Payable is a section under ‘Liabilities’ that details the obligations the company has to pay off short-term debts. Goods and services rendered to a company by suppliers, banks, utilities, and so forth will need to be paid for in the short term, and these bills are accounted for in the Accounts Payable. In a Company's Balance Sheet, the Payables will appear in the Current Liabilities section, and these tend to have cycles of 30-90 days in which they should be paid. Continue reading...

What are Accounting Controls?

Internal control systems and procedures can ensure the accuracy and reliability of financial accounts at a business. Accounting controls are meant to ensure that the numbers being put onto the books are accurate. Internal controls are the practices that employees are trained to do, and may be audited on, which general involve some oversight or double-checking to filter out mistakes. This not only prevents mistakes, but also malfeasance, embezzlement and fraud. Accounting done wrong can result in criminal penalties, bankruptcy, and tax problems. Continue reading...

What is an Account Executive?

An account executive is an individual who has executive responsibility of the maintenance of client account. In certain businesses, some client accounts have a high degree of importance and priority with regards to sales and operations, perhaps because they generate significant revenue for the company. Examples of such businesses might be advertising, office products, and investment services. The title of account executive is especially fitting if there is a staff which supports the lead account executive in maintenance of the client relationship and account service, but a staff is not required to hold this title. In other businesses this position might be called an account manager. Continue reading...

What are Accounting Records?

Accounting records are the supporting documents that verify the history of transactions, audits, and reports. Accounting documents are sometimes required to be kept on file for a certain number of years. They may be paper or electronic records. Records may include point-of-sale documents such as receipts and invoices, as well as inventory delivery and audit records, and the results of internal and third-party audits from various periods. Continue reading...

What are Accounts Receivable?

Accounts Receivable is part of the Assets on a Balance Sheet, and it details the money due to the company from its customers or debtors in the near future. Accounts Receivable will include money which should be received by the company from those who owe it. This appears in the Current Assets section of the Balance Sheet. The money should be receivable within the next 30 or 90 days, generally. This might be rent payments or other bills which are paid regularly or after the goods or services have been rendered. An account receivable also might include interest due. Continue reading...

What is the Accounting Cycle?

The Accounting Cycle includes all of the documentation that is collected and all of the controls and systems in place to ensure accurate accounting. The Accounting Cycle begins with the point of sale, with documentation for the transaction (invoice or receipt) and the internal expenses and inventory. There are conventions, controls and systems in place to account for and control the flow of information in a company at each stage of the process to ensure that accounts are as accurate as possible. The Accounting Cycle may refer to the length of time between trial balances, such as monthly, quarterly, or annually. Continue reading...

What is an Account Number?

An account number is a serialized identifier which is ascribed to a particular account holder or account at a financial institution, retailer, or other entity. Account numbers may include letters or numbers and may be of various length, but they usually exceed 5 characters. An account number is a way for a company or organization to uniquely identify the accounts associated with each individual customer. Continue reading...