Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Using the work of an expert

In audit, it is not uncommon for management to rely on the work's of expert to assist in preparing the financial statement of the Company. The common work of experts relied by management are as follows:

- engaging external valuer to perform valuation of property ( for impairment assessment of the property)
- engaging corporate finance expert to assist in Purchase Price Allocation review
- engaging actuary to estimate the defined benefit plan of the Company
- engaging corporate finance expert to assist in impairment assessment of goodwill / brand / etc

Generally, management relied on the subject matter expert to provide their opinion on certain aspects.What did we do as an auditor to address this matter?

International Standard of Auditing specifically mention that we need to review and/or evaluate the independence, competency and objectivity of these experts. It is important for us to carry a rigid assessment on the external valuer and its work to ensure that the results is not unreasonable. For instance, we need to check that the valuer is independent from management, such that the opinion provided by expert is independent and not under the influence of management.

When the work performed by subject matter expert become very technical, we may consider to consult our in-house expert (e.g. transaction service department/ valuation team). This is to check that the methodology / work performed by subject matter expert is not unreasonable. The opinion provided by subject matter expert could affect our audit opinion directly. Hence, we urge all auditors to ensure that all mandatory procedures are performed and all factors are consider to deal with this.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Transfer pricing: inter-company charges/ inter-company sales or purchases/ management fees/

Transfer pricing is a hot topic among accountant in almost every countries. Transfer pricing become a significant topic following the globalization foot-step, where cross-border transactions become more and more common. Your audit client may have a head office in Singapore, a packaging plant in Malaysia, while a main manufacturing plant in China. The supply chain of the audit client can span accross different countries.

Of course, when a inter-company / related company rendered service for other inter-companies / related companies, a price will be charged. The question is: how much to be charged? on what basis should the audit client determine the pricing / gross margin ( in circumstances of cost plus company) on inter-company transactions.

It is important for us to highlight to client to have a basis on determining the inter-company charges (including: sales transaction, purchase transaction). The inter-company transactions should be conducted on an arms length basis (i.e. the pricing should not differ materially from the market price). This is because local tax authority is concern on potential tax manipulation to record higher margin at lower tax rate country / region.

Hence, a proper documentation on transfer pricing is important to support all inter-company transaction. Management should always make reference to market price to assess if transfer pricing is conducted on an arms length basis.

In addition, it is common for holding company / other entities within the Group to charge managment fee to other inter-companies for certain centralised function  (e.g. shared service centre)/ corporate service. Likewise, a proper documentation and computation is required to support the basis of determining the management fee.

As auditor , we need to understand the basis of management in coming up the transfer pricing documentation and  to reivew for high level reasonableness.

Monday, October 15, 2012

IFRS 7: Financial Instruments- Disclosure: Receivables that are past due but not impaired

IFRS 7 set out certain disclosure requirements relating to financial instrument of the entity. One of the key requirements is: our audit client is require to disclose the analysis of the age of the financial assests that are past due but not impaired.

In general, this relates to trade receivables / other receiables from custoemrs or other third parties. This disclosure allowed financial statement users to have more information relating to the aging profile of the Company, especially those debts that are past due, but not impaired.

A general things to highlight to audit client is to emphasize that the aging table should be prepared based on the due date of the debts, instead of the age of the invoice. Auditor is required to perform testing ot the aging profile, as well as performing high level review on the aging profile prepared by client. This shall be cross checked against the debtors' turnover of the Company.

To illustrate, if our audit client has a debtors' turnover of 90 days, we will then expect the aging profile to have certain debts that are more than 90 / 120 days.

Please feel free to contact us at if you need more insight on this.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Internaitonal Standard on Auditing: Communication with those charged with governance

International Standard on Auditing ("ISA") 260 deals with the "Communication with those charged with governance".

For the purpsoe of ISA 260, the standard has defined the following:

10. For purposes of the ISAs, the following terms have the meanings attributed below:

(a) Those charged with governance – The person(s) or organization(s) (for

example, a corporate trustee) with responsibility for overseeing the

strategic direction of the entity and obligations related to the

accountability of the entity. This includes overseeing the financial

reporting process. For some entities in some jurisdictions, those charged

with governance may include management personnel, for example,

executive members of a governance board of a private or public sector

entity, or an owner-manager. For discussion of the diversity of

governance structures, see paragraphs A1-A8.

(b) Management – The person(s) with executive responsibility for the conduct

of the entity’s operations. For some entities in some jurisdictions,

management includes some or all of those charged with governance, for

example, executive members of a governance board, or an owner-manager.   ISA 260 has stated the matters required to be communicated to those charged with governance, as below: - Auditor's responsbilities in relation to the financial statement audit; - planned scope and timing of the audit; - significant findings from the audit; - Auditor independence   This is a very important auditing standard, whereby all the audit team members, especially audit executive need to master. This standard clearly defines on the audit matters to be communicated, to whom to be communicated, and the communication process. Hence, we suggest all audit executives to read through this ISA 260 to ensure that the audit team has complied with the standard.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Purchase Price Allocation Review- Intangible Assets- A Cross Check

Meger & acquisition activities never disappear, even when the economy appears to be slowed down. Entity with strong balance sheet and with huge cash on hand will acquire certain companies when the valuation is relatively cheaper.

When your audit client acquire a company. They are required to perform Purchase Price Allocation review, which allocates the consideration to the relative fair value of the tangible and intangible assets / liabilities acquired, with the remaining amounts recorded as goodwill/ bargain purchase.

Usually, an audit client will engage an external valuer to value the tangible assets / liabilities and intangible assets acquired. In general, intangible assets (such as: brand name/ customer list) is not recorded on acquiree' balance sheet.

We will talk more about the details of purchase price allocation review in our future posts. A very way to understand the business rationale of acquiring the target is to compare the net asset of the target company to total consideration paid by your audit client.

To illustrate, audit client has paid US$10mil to acquire a target company with a net asset value of US$1mil. It appears to you that the Company has paid US$9mil to acquire certain intangible assets or certain items not recorded at fair value on target's balance. There is a number of possible reason:

- target company has strong brand name;
- target company has comprehensive list of customer relationship;
- land & building was recorded at cost and not at fair value (note: this is allowed under accounting standard);
- a goodwill the Company is willing to pay for; etc etc

By comparing the total consideration against the net asset of the target company, you will be able to find out the business rationale of acquiring the target company and assess if the acquisition fits into the client's long term business objective. Please, never fail to understand the business rationale while you perform the auditing.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Value of engaging Big 4 accounting firms

In previous post, we invited opinions/ comments from our reader to discuss the value of engaging Big 4 accounting firms. After considering the opinions/ comments received from Accounting & Auditing blog's reader, we would like to share with you our thought:

- established reputation / recognition by the financial markets ( majority of the Blue Chip companies appointed Big 4 as their auditor);
- established audit methodology developed by respective firms (i.e. existence of technical department, etc);
- stronger support from administrative department;
- integrated support from member firms globally to ensure that audit of foreign subsidiaries are carried out smoothly;
- internal quality review policy carried out to review that quality of the audit meet the firm standard

Of course, while there is a value of engaging Big 4, there is a premium need to be paid for. Fee charged by Big 4 accounting firms is, on average, higher than those medium tier audit firm (e.g. BDO, Horwath, etc). Please feel free to drop us an email at if you woud like to find out more from us.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Discussion: Value of engaging Big 4 audit firm as auditor

It is known in the commercial world that the auditing industry for the world is dominated by Big 4 audit firms, namely: Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC). The number of listed companies (including most of the blue chip corporates) are audited by Big 4. The audit fees charged by Big 4 are usually higher than other non-big 4 audit firms (i.e. there is a premium on Big 4's audit fee).

What are the reasons for Big 4 to command a premium on its audit fees? Have you thought about it? We encourage our readers to submit their answers to us, such that we can discuss the value of engaging a Big 4 as audit firm together.

You may leave a comment to the blog post or send the email to our account:

Dividend income from subsidiary, and its withholding tax

We receive questions from a reader, who just started to learn the principle of consolidation.

"The question was will dividend income from subsidiary remain in the Group consolidation account"

The basis principle of consolidation is to prepare a consolidated account that captures the transactions of a Group with extrenal party. Any transaction within the Group will not be captured in the consolidation account.

To answer his/ her question: the dividend income received from a subsidiary by the holding company relates to a transaction within the Group. As such, this transaction will be eliminated during the consolidation process. Hence, the dividend income from a subsidiary will not be captured in consolidated account. However, we would like to highlight that, the holding company often suffer witholding tax while the subsidiary remit dividend to holding company, who might be at different country.

The with holding tax sufferred is not eliminated, as it represents the amonut payable to local tax authority of the subsidiary.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

PCAOB in tentative deal to observe China official auditor' inspections

Chicago Tribune reported that the a tentative agreement has been reached by PCAOB of U.S. to observe official auditor inspection in China.


After the infamous Sino Tech Engergy Ltd incident, US investors are cautious in dealing with the trading of China-based companies listed on U.S. Exchanges. PCAOB announced that “We are working toward and have tentatively agreed on observational visits".

This is a move for PCAOB to observe the audit firms’ quality control over the auditing industry within China.

We, Accounting & Auditing blog, view this move positively. As the observation will allow PCAOB to develop understanding of the audit firms’ quality, high level understanding of audit procedures’, controls exercised by China relevant regulatory authority. Any difference in expectation may be communicated by PCAOB to China authority, in order to allow the China authority to close any gap.

In the long term, we expect close border listing to become more common and frequent, an overview by the authority from U.S. stock exchange may assist in clearing the obstacles / anxiousness the market may have towards the China-based company. We hope to hear more good progress in the future.

Critical review of Gross Margin Analysis

Dealing with gross margin analysis, academic often provide the following guidances for analyst / auditor in the approach on how to analyse:
- compare gross margin of a subject company to competitors within the industry
- compare gross margin of a subject company to prior period
- compare gross margin of a subject company to our expectations (i.e. increase in fuel costs would likely result in the decrease in the subject company's gross margin)

The above analysis is fundamental and provide insight for analyst / auditor of the subject Company. We, Accounting & Auditing blog, propose the auditor to critically review the component of gross margin and the movement within each key compoent, to reflect the gross margin of the Company factually and within reasonable expectation of a financial statement user.

Gross margin represents the difference between sales revenue and cost of goods sold. Sales revenue represents the revenue the Company generated after transferring the significant risk and rewards/ title of the goods. Cost of goods sold include all costs of purchase, costs of conversion and other costs incurred in bringing the inventories to their present location and condition. Costs of goods made by the business include material, labor, and allocated overhead.

Management may have incentive to change the classification of its cost component, such that the gross margin appears to be favorable. For instance, management of a manufacturing may decide to include freight inward as selling and distribution costs, while in fact, freight inwards is the cost incurred in bringing in raw materials for its production purpose. By excluding freight inward from being a component of cost of goods sold, the gross margin will appear to be higher.

As the auditor, it is recommended to review through the cost of goods sold component of our audit client, to critically review the reasonableness of the cost of goods solds. The analysis need to be supplemented by our understanding of the business and discussion with management. Engaging different client personnel from different departments/ operations assist in developing our understanding of the business better.

Gross margin analysis should not be limited to comparing to prior period, comparing to industry norm, as this is not sufficient to understand a business better. We, as the auditor, has the responsibility to re-assess what we have done in the past and critically review the existing account against the changing business environment to make sure that the financial statment reflect the financial affair of the audit client reasonably within the current business context.

Monday, September 17, 2012

International Standard on Auditing 540: Auditing Accounting Estimates

International Stanard on Auditing ("ISA") 540 discuss about the auditing of accounting estimates, including fair value accounting estimates and related disclosures. This is a crucial auditing standard for all auditors as auditing accounting estimates is not straight forward, involve critical review of assumptions and management's assessment, and the results have a significant impact on the financials of our audit client.

ISA 540 defines the natuer of accounting estimates as follows: Some financial statement items cannot be measured precisely, but can only be estimated.The nature and reliability of information available to management to suport the making of an accounting estimate varies widely, which thereby affects the degree of estimation uncertainty associated with accounting estimates. The degree of estimation uncertainty affects, in turn, the risks of material misstatement of accounting estimates, including their susceptibility to unintentional or intentional management bias.

To illustrate, while reviewing through the debtors' aging summary of your audit client, you noted a number of debtors has long outstanding debts overdue more than 120 days. Based on your understanding of the industry, the norm of the debtors' turnover is about 90 days. Management need to make an estimation on the provision for doubtful debts. The estimations based on a number of factors: repayment history of the particular customer, financial position of the customer, availability of repayment plan, etc. Auditor, need to carry out the review objectively to review for the reasonableness of management's estimation assessment.

Management may have incentive of not providing provision in order to make sure that their profitability appears to be favorable. As a result, a thorough review need to be carried out.

ISA 540 also mentions that the measurement objective for certain accounting estimates if to forecast the out come of one or more transactions, events or conditions giving rise to the need for the accounting estimate. For other accounting estimates, including many fair value accounting estimates, the measurement objective is different, and is expressed in terms of the value of a current transaction or financial statement item based on conditions prevalent at the measurement date.

Friday, September 14, 2012

What is accounting?

Some non-business friends of mine came to me and ask me: what is accounting?

Accounting is a system/ mechanic used to record (i.e. account) transactions of a business. To illustrate, an owner of a small-business-enterprise records its daily revenue information. At the end of every period (e.g. end of every month, end of every year), the accounting information is accumulated and summarised in a report, i.e. balance sheet statement, income statement, cash flow statement.

Management can determine business decision based on balance sheet statement/ income statement. The financial statements prepared reflect the financial state of affairs and performance of a business. Financial statement users make decisions based on the financil statements

There is a systematic method to account for the transactions to ensure consistencies in recording the transactions. Consistency allowed the readers of accounting records to make useful comparison to understand the changes of a business between the comparative period.

Understanding accounting / financial statements is crucial in understanding a business crucially. It is important for every single investor to appreciate the accounting.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What do you do when you noted overprovision/underprovision for prior years' tax

While reviewing through financial statement or tax schedule, you may note overprovision/ underprovision for prior years' tax. What will you do as an auditor?

First let us understand, what will trigger the accounting entries for over / underprovision for tax:

The over / under provision maybe resulted from:
- tax correspondences (i.e. notice of assessment) from tax authority showing a revised tax payable
- tax agent / client a computation error in prior year tax computation
- tax agent/ client become aware of new evidences which may suggest that prior tax computation need to be revised
- clarification of new ruling being published recently
- etc

It is important for an auditor to understand the nature of overprovision/ underprovision. Why?

By understanding the nature of overprovision/ underprovision, we can cross-check to current year tax computation to make sure that the basis of computation has been rectified such that current year tax computation is in line with appropriate ruling/ basis. For instance, during the year, tax authority may disagree with claiming professional fee as deductible expense. As such, it will result in underprovision in respect of prior year tax. In current year tax computation, management should deem the same nature of professional fee to be non-deductible expense. This will prevent the underprovision of tax in the future.

In short, it is important to understand the nature of any over/underprovision of tax, and check that the basis of current year tax computation has been updated such that it is in accordance with latest tax ruling.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Accounting for intangible assets - Self-generated intangible assets

Recently, while browing through the financial article, we noticed one interesting article from relating to intangible assets. We have extracted some paragraphs as below:

"Any business professor will tell you that the value of companies has been shifting markedly from tangible assets, "bricks and mortar", to intangible assets like intellectual capital. These invisible assets are the key drivers of shareholder value in the knowledge economy, but accounting rules do not acknowledge this shift in the valuation of companies. Statements prepared under generally accepted accounting principles do not record these assets. Left in the dark, investors must rely largely on guesswork to judge the accuracy of a company's value.
But although companies' percentage of intangible assets has increased, accounting rules have not kept pace. For instance, if the R&D efforts of a pharmaceuticals company create a new drug that passes clinical trials, the value of that development is not found in the financial statements. It doesn't show up until sales are actually made, which could be several years down the road. Or consider the value of an e-commerce retailer. Arguably, almost all of its value comes from software development, copyrights and its user base. While the market reacts immediately to clinical trial results or online retailers' customer churn, these assets slip through financial statements.

As a result, there is a serious disconnect between what happens in capital markets and what accounting systems reflect. Accounting value is based on the historical costs of equipment and inventory, whereas market value comes from expectations about a company's future cash flow, which comes in large part from intangibles such as R&D efforts, patents and good ol' workforce "know-how". "

Our audit client may have invested research & development costs, payroll costs in developing intangible assets, e.g. new drugs, software, new machines. The invention may subsequently lead the Company to apply for patents, which is essentially the intangible assets of the Company. According to IFRS, internally generated goodwill should not be recognised on the balance sheet of the Company. Some of the readers may wonder why this asset should not be recognised on the balance sheet of the Company.

Let us answer this question by giving you a scenario by assuming intangible assets can be recognised. The Company would capitalise the costs incurred as an intangible assets, i.e.

Dr. Intangible Assets
Cr. Costs (i.e. R&D costs, payroll costs)

By capitalising the intangible assets, the Company will be able to reduce the costs and increase the profitability. There's a incentive for certain Company to capitalise intangible assets as much as possible, in order to reduce the costs incurred, even for certain costs that may not yiled economic benefits to the Company.

Sometimes, it is hard to measure the real economic benefit of an intangible assets. A Company should not recognise intangible assets if it is not econmical benificial to the Company. This is the issue with the recognition. Also, for the measurement, how should intangible assets be measured. Some might argue that, it should be the full amount of costs incurred. However, what if the full amonut of costs is not 100% beneficial to the Company? Do we still recognise the full amount?

It will be a challenge for the accountant, auditor, and even general invenstor to understand the nature or amount of the intangible assets being recognised on the balance sheet. Hence, in order to protect financial statement user, self generated intangible assets should not be recognised. However, this amount can be disclosed in the financial statement for financial statement user to understand the Company better.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Guarantee of inter-company's loans

It is common for our audit client to provide corporate guarantee to a bank in favour of related companies for the loan drawn down by the related companies. Generally, your audit client may guarantee timely repayment of interest and guarantee to repay amount due should the related company default in repaying.

A bank may ask for guarantee, if:
- the borrower is not in financially sound position; or
- the loan amount is substantial to the borrower perspective; or
- the borrower is trying to ask for a discount on its interest rate

This guarantee represents a potential / contingent exposure to our audit client. This has to be disclosed in the financial statement of our audit client. The disclosure should, at a minimal, include:
- the nature of the guarantee;
- the amount guaranteed; and
- contingent exposure as of balance sheet date (i.e. the amount guaranteed maybe US$100mil on a facility, while the outstanding loan amount drawn down by related company is US$80mil as of balance sheet date).

This disclosure helps to inform the financial statement user on the contingent libility the Company has, and this could be a key concern for some of the financial statement users.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Accounting entries for share buy back

In today market, it is common for a listed company to buy back their own shares from the open, to the extent that it does not violate the rules of the listing authority. There is a number of reason why the management of listed companies want to buy back their own shares. It could be due to:

- the share price is deemed to be consistently lower than the intrinsic value (e.g. net tangible asset per share is greater than the share price);
- there is huge cash balances held by the holding company;
- share price is at exceptionall low level, and it is good to buy back the share from the market

What is the accounting entries for share buy-back then?

There are two possible answers for the question above, depends on management's intention:

<1> If the listed company want to buy back the share and cancel the share, the acconting entries are:

Dr. Share Capital
Cr. Cash

<2> If the listed company want to buy back the share for future re-issuance purpose (e.g. issue share option to employees):

Dr. Retained Earning- Treasury Shares
Cr. Cash

To clarify further: treausry shares account would be a debit balance. From legal perspective, it is a sub-set of Retained Earning. For financial statement disclosure purpose, it will be reflected separately from normal Retained Earning.

Please feel free to drop us an email at for further clarification.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Presentation & Disclosure: Gross revenue vs net revenue - Principal vs Agency Relationship

Revenue recognition is a crucial and important topic in the auditing profession. One of the key challenges auditor face is: auditor need to review the substance of the transaction to determine if an entity is a principal or an agent in certain business arrangement. An entity need to present the revenue on a gross basis if the entity is deemed to be a principal, whereas an entity need to present the revenue on a net basis if the entity is deemed to be an agent.

To illustrate, insurance agent is selling insurance contract worth US$300 dollar. Insurance agent is able to earn a commission of US$20 dollar by selling such contract. What should be the revenue for insurance agent upon successful selling of this insurance contract ? US$300 or US$20? IAS18 states that 'in an agency relationship, the gross inflows of economic benefits include amounts collected on behalf of the principal and which do not result in increases in equity for the entity. The amounts collected on behalf of the principal are not revenue. Instead, revenue is the amount of commission.

Determining whether an entity is acting as a principal or as an agent requires judgement and consideration of all relevant facts and circumstances. An entity is acting as a principal when it has exposure to the significant risks and rewards associated with the sale of goods or the rendering of services.

Features that indicate that an entity is acting as a principal include: (a) the entity has the primary responsibility for providing the goods or services to the customer or for fulfilling the order, for example by being responsible for the acceptability of the products or services ordered or purchased by the customer; (b) the entity has inventory risk before or after the customer order, during shipping or on return; (c) the entity has latitude in establishing prices, either directly or indirectly, for example by providing additional goods or services; and (d) the entity bears the customer's credit risk for the amount receivable from the customer.

An entity is acting as an agent when it does not have exposure to the significant risks and rewards associated with the sale of goods or the rendering of services. One feature indicating that an entity is acting as an agent is that the amount the entity earns is predetermined, being either a fixed fee per transaction or a stated percentage of the amount billed to the customer. In the example above, insurance agent should recognise US$20 as its revenue (instead of US$300) as the insurance agent is not entitled to the full economic benefit of entire US$300.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

What is provision for reinstatement costs and how to account for it

It's common for an audit client to enter into rental lease agreement to lease the office building, warehouse, etc with the landlord of certain premises for certain period (e.g. 5 years). For operation purpose, the client may renovate the lease premises, such as installing cubicle in the said lease office.

 A landlord might require the our audit client (i.e. the audit tenant) to reinstate the office building upon moving out from the office while the lease has expired. Audit client may have to incur certain costs to reinstate the lease premises to its original state. Hence, a clause will be stated in the agreement to state cleary that the audit client is required to reinstate the lease premise to its original state. [ note: auditor must read the agreement in a cautiour manner to review of the obligations of our audit client].

In this instance, audit client is required to accrue for reinstatement cost. The question is, how to accrue for it, and who much to accrue for it? Audit client is required to obtain a quote from relevant contractor to estimate the reinstatement cost required to reinstate the premise to its original state (after factoring in the inflation in the future years till the end of the lease period). T

he following accounting entries need to be recorded: Dr. Reinstatement Cost (to be recorded in Fixed Asset) Cr. Provision for reinstatement cost (to be recorded in Accrual) The reinstatement csot capitalised as fixed asset need to be depreciated over the lease period. Consequently, it is evident that the reinstatement cost is expensed off on a straight line basis till the end of the lease period.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Is a person having significant influence (to an entities) considered a related parties

We received a very good question from our Accounting & Auditing blog's royal readers with regard to related parties, as follows:

"I would like to inquire that related company or related party does not necessary to own shares in the other company but also have great influence in the decision making. Am I right? What if they do not own shares but has great influence in the decision making, does it still consider as related?"

According to International Accounting Standard 24, the definition of a related party does not only include shareholders, but also many other parties. A person who may exercise significant influence over the entity's decision making is also considered a related party.

Why is it important to identify an individual having significant influence as a related party? This is because we need to consider whether the transaction entred into between the Company and the invidiual ( having significant influence) are conducted on an arms-length basis. There are instances / cases where the said transactions were not entered into on an arms-length basis but not detected by audit committee or auditors.

Hence, the responsiblity of auditors include obtaining the list of related parties from audit client, identify potential related parties not identified by management, pay reasonably sufficient attention to related parties transactions, and ensure that related party transactions are disclosed appropriately in accordance with IAS 24.

Recommendation of new accounting procedures: Investment-equity reconciliation

A good exercise can be undertaken by the holding company is to prepare appropriate documentation to reconcile investor's cost of investment to investee's share capital for any investment-equtiy relationships within the Group.

The procdure appears to be straight forward, simple and non-complex on first thought. However, the reconciliation can turn into a complex procedure, due to:

- impairment been recorded for cost of investment
- difference exchange rate was used to translate the funding (i.e. investor used exchange rate A, while investee used exchange rate B)
- funding remitted / received is not recorded in appropriate account, etc

This recommended procedure is particularly useful for entities with significant number of subsidiaries. Discrepancies (between cost of investment and share capital) are usually expected for large group of entities.

This reconciliation excercise help to ensure that appropriate figures are recorded in respective source ledger, and ensure that appropriate elimination are done at group level.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Accounting treatment for fraud- losses

We received question from our Accounting & Auditing readers on what would be the accounting entries for losses arising from fraud incidence.

In most of the circumstances, the losses arising from fraud wil be recorded in profit & loss statement. For instance, if a Company sufferred misappropriation of cash, the following accounting entries should be recorded:

Dr. Loss (Profit & Loss)
Cr. Cash

If the losses arising from fraud incident is material, this fact (i.e. fraud incident) need to be disclosed in the financial statement of the Company. Management of the Company need to consider the local laws & regulations on the disclosure requirement of fraud.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What is financial auditing?

We received a lot of question asking us what is financial audit? What does a financial audit involved? We will try to explain in a layman term.


Company ABC is a publicly listed company. They have hired their own accountants to preare the financial statements, including: income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement on a monthly basis.


How does the public know if the financial statement prepared by Company ABC is appropriate and in accordance with accounting standard.

Financial audit:

This is when the financial auditor come in and play a major role, where they review the financial statemetn close process of the Company's, review the accouting treatments and policies, and give you their own opinion on the financial statement. The opinion of the auditor is whether " the financial statement is fairly stated". "Fairly stated", in substance, implies that certain tolerable errors are expected.

Life without auditor:

The financial statement prepared by Company ABC may be prepared on a inappropriate manner/ not in accordance with accounting standard. However, since no professional personnel is conducting a review on the financial statement, the inappropriate financial statement will be accepted by the public.

Consequence of life without auditor:

The incorrect financial statement led to wrong decision being made by financial statement user.

Treasury Shares

Definition of a Treasury Shares

What is a Treasury Share?

A company may hold its own equity instruments, often referred to as “treasury shares”. Such treasury shares may be acquired and held by the issuing enterprise itself or by its subsidiaries, depending on the jurisdiction.

Presentation of Treasury Shares on the financial statement

Treasury shares should be presented in the balance sheet as a deduction from equity. The acquisition of treasury shares should be presented in the financial statements as a change in equity.

IAS 32 paragraph 33 states that: If an entity reacquires its own equity instruments, those instruments (‘treasury shares’) shall be deducted from equity. No gain or loss shall be recognised in profit or loss on the purchase, sale, issue or cancellation of an entity’s own equity instruments. Such treasury shares may be acquired and held by the entity or by other members of the consolidated group. Consideration paid or received shall be recognised directly in equity.

As evidenced above, under International Financial Reporting Standard: no gain or loss should be recognised in the income statement on the sale, issuance, or cancellation of treasury shares. Consideration received should be presented in the financial statements as a change in equity.

The amounts of reductions to equity for treasury shares held should be disclosed separately either on the face of the balance sheet or in the notes.

In addition, an enterprise should provide disclosure, in accordance with IAS 24, if the enterprise or any of its subsidiaries re-acquires its own shares from parties able to control or exercise significant influence over the enterprise.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Fraud- Nortel trial- Nearly billiton dollars in reserves "incorrectly" booked

It is reported that Nortel conducted a comprehensive review and found out that nearly a billion dollars worth of accounting reserves ``incorrectly'' booked, dating to as far back as 1999. The internal review also found two ``material weaknesses'' tied to the use of the accrued liabilities, the first being a breach in public disclosure rules, the second a violation of Nortel's own accounting practices.

It is evident that certain management of Nortel had manipulated the results by using the accrued liabilities account.

$952 million in accrued liabilities were set up without the appropriate documentation, and weren't filed in accordance with generally accepted accounting practices (GAAP). Citing one account, called the ``out-of-balance'' provision that was stored within the firm's corporate or non-operating books, the accountant said: ``It's not warranted to have an out-of-balance account.''

Tens of millions of dollars in backlogged provisions were entered to cover anticipated costs such as contract liabilities and lawsuits. When those costs weren't realized, Nortel flowed the provisions back into earnings in later periods. Yet, they ``should have been recognized in real-time,'' not deferred.

This so-called ``earnings management'' practice was used by the three top executives in Nortel to tip the flagging tech giant back into profitability in 2003, triggering $73-million in bonuses, of which they collected $12-million combined.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Accounting Joke: Sexy Management Accountant

Something to share with our accounting & auditing blog's reader

Did you hear about the Sexy Management Accountant?

She went to see her fitness trainer to talk about stretch targets.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Inappropriate accounting for payment- Diamond Foods, Inc

As published in Diamond Foods' website on 08 February 2012. Diamond Foods, Inc announced that audit committee's investigation of the Company's accounting for certain crop payments to walnut growers is substantially completed. The findings shows that financial statement for FY 2010 and FY 2011 will need to be restated.
"The Audit Committee has concluded that a "continuity" payment made to growers in August 2010 of approximately $20 million and a "momentum" payment made to growers in September 2011 of approximately $60 million were not accounted for in the correct periods, and the Audit Committee identified material weaknesses in the Company's internal control over financial reporting." [ Quoted from the Company's announcement]

It is not mentioned on the accounting treatment for the payment to walnut growers. Questions we are interested in is:
- what was the accounting treatment that had been recorded for payment to Walnut Growers
- what should be the appropriate accounting treatment
- how would the financials been affected
- will the profit & loss of the Company been affected immediately
- are there any interested party relationship between Diamond Foods, Inc and those walnut growers
- had a proper review of the financials been reviewed earlier

For the 12-month-ended July 2011, Diamond Foods recorded a net profit before tax of about US$69mil. Shareholder's Equity amounted to US$495mil as at 31 July 2011. In our opinion, US$80mil of payment ( i.e. US$20mil + US$60mil) represents a significant amount to the Company's financial statement.

In addition, the audit committee also identified mateiral weakness in the Company's internal control. As evidenced, it is crucial to have a sound internal control environment to support the financial statement closing process of the Company.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fraud- Improper segregation of duties in handling cash

Misappropriation of cash is one of the common fraud reported in the corporate world.

In Nov 2010, it is reported that Malaysian unit sufferred a loss of RM 1.5million (approximately S$622k) due to the issuance of unauthorised cheque. It's not clear how this had occurred.

In general, one of the possibilities a cash fraud could occur is when certain individual forge the authorised signatories on the cheque. By forging the authorized signatories, the individual is able to direct the fund to his / her bank accounts. How can the internal controls of the Company helps to minimize the risk of cash fraud then?

Possible solutions are:
- to set dual authorized signatories requirement for the Company's cheque facilities
- existence of proper segregation of duties between cheque book-keeper, preparer of cheque, review of cheque amount, approver of cheque
- cash book review be performed by appropriate senior finance personnel
- review the cash movement by bank account on a monthly basis

The existence of above controls and/or procedures can help to mitigate the risk of cash fraud.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fraud- fictitious employee been created

One of the common fraud we have encountered / read on the news relates to payroll fraud, where fictitious employees were been created by individual to earn additional salaries on the fictitious employees been recorded.

One of the famous cases occurred in Singapore Airlines, whereby fictitious employees' hours were clocked in by payroll officer. Payroll officer pocketed the money successfully by entering the bank account details into the system to earn the extra hours clocked.

To minimize the risk of fraud arising from fictitious employees been created. There should be proper segregation of duties between:

a) personnel who have the access right to payroll system to create and employee
b) personnel who have the access right to enter bank acccount details of individual employee into the system
c) a reviewer ( who should not been entitled the right to edit, but been entitled the right to view) to ensure that the bank account details is input correctly
d) a reviewer who review the monthly payroll costs ( by department, by employee name); this reviewr should do a random testing to tally the summary of payroll cost details to timesheet submitted / revised letter of incremenet

The segregation of duties mitigate the risk that a fictitious employee can be created by individual.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Implication of Singapore Tiger Airway's Q3 results.

Tiger Airways Singapore posted a net loss of S$17.4mil in Q3 FY 2011, as compared to a net profit of S$22.5mil in same period last year.

The net loss for the Group was largely attributable to: losses generated from Tiger Airways Australia as a result of the CASA suspension, under-utilisation of aircraft fleets (due to 38.8% increase in the average size of the operating aircraft fleet and significant increase in fuel costs. Fuel costs (net of gain/losses on fuel hedging) has increased from S$54.5mil in Q3 FY 2010 to S$75.7mil in Q3 FY 2011.
Tiger Airways made the following comments in the outlook statement of its announcement:

“The Group expects to report a significant net loss for the financial year largely as a result of the CASA suspension in Australia, the under-utilisation of the Group’s aircraft fleet and exposure to high and volatile jet fuel prices.”
Implication of Tiger Airways’ results.

Tiger Airways’ results are alarming to audit clients involved in airlines, shipping, transportation, and logistics industries. This is because:

- global economy is experiencing slow down of business activities, which may likely to result in under-utilisation of capacities (e.g. under utilisation of vessels, fleets, trucks). Your audit clients may experience significant over capacities in current period of review;
- fuel costs have increased significantly during the period of review. Your audit client may record substantial fuel costs in current period.

The above factors, individually or in combined, may result in the audit clients record substantial operating losses. In addition, the above factors may trigger potential impairment on property, plant & equipments, going concern issue, capabilities of repaying creditors / borrowings.

Classification of male pig and female pig

In English:

A male pig is called a boar.
A female pig is called a sow.

In Accounting:

A male pig is classified as fixed asset.
A female pig is classified as inventory.

Disclaimer: just a joke, no bias against any gender.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Importance of Suppliers' Evaluation Process

One of the key emphasis of internal audit is to evaluate whether your audit client has appropriate process in place to evaluate the suppliers.

Unfavorable event in any part of the supply chain will causes disruption to the distriubtion of products to end-customers successfully. It is important to evaluate the suppliers to ensure that they have the capability and stability to conduct sustainable business with your audit client on a long term basis.

On an ideal basis, management/ procurement of your audit client should have a formal policy on the entire process of evaluating suppliers. The evaluation has to be developed and documented in a proper format.

For instance, a background check on the suppliers is required (e.g. is the supplier a subsidiary of any congolmerates, is the supplier financially sounds). Another key document is the financial statement of the supplier. This is to ensure that supplier is financially stable to operate on a going concern basis.

Please let us know if you would like a detailed format of Suppliers' Evaluation Form. This is available in our Accounting & Auditing blog. Please drop us an email at