Knowledge of financial accounting assists individuals in making informed decisions about businesses and other organizations.

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What real-life decisions could a person be facing where an understanding of financial accounting is beneficial?

The number of possible judgments that an individual might need to make about a business or other organization is close to unlimited. However, many decisions deal with current financial health and the prospects for future success. In making assessments of available data, a working knowledge of financial accounting is invaluable. The more in-depth the understanding is of those principles, the more likely the person will be able to use the available information to arrive at the best possible choice.

Common examples include the following:

  1. The college graduate might be employed by a bank to work in its corporate lending department. Company C is a local business that has applied to the bank for a large loan. The graduate has been asked by bank management to prepare an assessment of Company C to determine if it is likely to be financially healthy in the future so that it will be able to repay the money when due. A correct decision to lend the money eventually earns the bank profit because Company C (the debtor) will be required to pay an extra amount (known as interest) on the money borrowed. Conversely, an incorrect analysis of the information could lead to a substantial loss if the loan is granted and Company C is unable to fulfill its obligation. Bank officials must weigh the potential for profit against the risk of loss. That is a daily challenge in virtually all businesses. The former student’s career with the bank might depend on the ability to analyze financial accounting data and then make appropriate choices about the actions to be taken. Should a loan be made to this company?
  2. The college graduate might hold a job as a credit analyst for a manufacturing company that sells its products to retail stores. Company C is a relatively new retailer that wants to buy goods (inventory) for its stores on credit from this manufacturer. The former student must judge whether it is wise to permit Company C to buy goods now but wait until later to remit the money. If payments are received on a timely basis, the manufacturer will have found a new outlet for its merchandise. Profits will likely increase. Unfortunately, another possibility also exists. Company C could make expensive purchases but then be unable to make payment, creating significant losses for the manufacturer. Should credit be extended to this company?
  3. The college graduate might be employed by an investment firm that provides financial advice to its clients. The firm is presently considering whether to recommend acquisition of the ownership shares of Company C as a good investment strategy. The former student has been assigned to gather and evaluate relevant financial information as a basis for this decision. If Company C is poised to become stronger and more profitable, its ownership shares will likely rise in value over time, earning money for the firm’s clients. Conversely, if the prospects for Company C appear to be less bright, the value of these shares might be expected to drop (possibly precipitously) so that the investment firm should avoid suggesting the purchase of an ownership interest in Company C. Should shares of this company be recommended for acquisition?

Success in life—especially in business—frequently results from making appropriate decisions. Many economic choices, such as those described above, depend on the ability to understand and make use of the financial information that is produced and presented about an organization in accordance with the rules and principles underlying financial accounting.