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Accounts, Debits, and Credits

The previous chapter showed how transactions caused financial statement amounts to change. “Before” and “after” examples, etc. was used to develop the illustrations. Imagine if a real business tried to keep up with its affairs this way! Perhaps a giant chalk board could be set up in the accounting department.

As transactions occurred, they would be called in to the department and the chalk board would be updated. Chaos would quickly rule. Even if the business could manage to figure out what its financial statements were supposed to contain, it probably could not systematically describe the transactions that produced those results. Obviously, a system is needed.

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Accounting Information

You likely have a general concept of what accountants do. They capture information about the transactions and events of a business and summarize that activity in reports that are used by persons interested in the entity. But, you likely do not realize the complexity of accomplishing this task. It involves a talented blending of technical knowledge and measurement artistry that can only be fully appreciated via the extensive study of the subject.

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Statement of changes in equity: its contents and informational aims

The statement of changes in equity shows a detail of the changes of the equity from the beginning to the end of the year. The main reason for the equity to change is, as explained in section 4.3 above, due to the retained profit contribution to the distributable reserves. However, many other events can affect the equity.

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A reporting entity (which we will call “entity” from here onwards) is either a company or a group of companies, which are all controlled by the same decision maker, i.e. normally the same board of directors. This occurs when the board of directors of a company controls directly or indirectly a number of other companies, by holding directly or indirectly the absolute or relative majority of the voting rights of other companies.

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Question: Investors are interested (sometimes almost obsessively interested) in the financial information that is produced by a company based on the rules and principles of financial accounting. They want to use this information to make wise investing decisions. What do investors actually hope to learn about a company from this financial information?