Accounting concepts and conventions
In drawing up accounting statements, whether they are external "financial accounts" or internally-focused "management accounts", a clear objective has to be that the accounts fairly reflect the true "substance" of the business and the results of its operation.
The theory of accounting has, therefore, developed the concept of a "true and fair view". The true and fair view is applied in ensuring and assessing whether accounts do indeed portray accurately the business' activities.
To support the application of the "true and fair view", accounting has adopted certain concepts and conventions which help to ensure that accounting information is presented accurately and consistently.
The most commonly encountered convention is the "historical cost convention". This requires transactions to be recorded at the price ruling at the time, and for assets to be valued at their original cost.
Under the "historical cost convention", therefore, no account is taken of changing prices in the economy.
The other conventions you will encounter in a set of accounts can be summarised as follows:
Accountants do not account for items unless they can be quantified in monetary terms. Items that are not accounted for (unless someone is prepared to pay something for them) include things like workforce skill, morale, market leadership, brand recognition, quality of management etc.
This convention seeks to ensure that private transactions and matters relating to the owners of a business are segregated from transactions that relate to the business.
With this convention, accounts recognise transactions (and any profits arising from them) at the point of sale or transfer of legal ownership - rather than just when cash actually changes hands. For example, a company that makes a sale to a customer can recognise that sale when the transaction is legal - at the point of contract. The actual payment due from the customer may not arise until several weeks (or months) later - if…