Definition of Strategic management accounting
Strategic management accounting
The provision and analysis of management accounting data about a business and its competitors, which is of use in the development and monitoring of strategy (Simmonds).
The use of various forms of gimmickry to distort a company's true financial performance in order to achieve a desired result.
A characterization used by the Securities and Exchange
Commission to designate earnings management that results in an intentional and material misrepresentation
A collection of systems and processes used to record, report and interpret business transactions.
A broad, all-inclusive term that refers to the methods and procedures
of financial record keeping by a business (or any entity); it also
refers to the main functions and purposes of record keeping, which are
to assist in the operations of the entity, to provide necessary information
to managers for making decisions and exercising control, to measure
profit, to comply with income and other tax laws, and to prepare financial
Administrative proceedings or litigation releases that entail an accounting or auditing-related violation of the securities laws.
An alteration in the accounting methodology or estimates used in
the reporting of financial statements, usually requiring discussion in a footnote
attached to the financial statements.
Earnings of a firm as reported on its income statement.
A business for which a separate set of accounting records is being
The representation of the double-entry system of accounting such that assets are equal to liabilities plus capital.
The formula Assets = Liabilities + Equity.
An equation that reflects the two-sided nature of a
business entity, assets on the one side and the sources of assets on the
other side (assets = liabilities + owners’ equity). The assets of a business
entity are subject to two types of claims that arise from its two basic
sources of capital—liabilities and owners’ equity. The accounting equation
is the foundation for double-entry bookkeeping, which uses a
scheme for recording changes in these basic types of accounts as either
debits or credits such that the total of accounts with debit balances
equals the total of accounts with credit balances. The accounting equation
also serves as the framework for the statement of financial condition,
or balance sheet, which is one of the three fundamental financial
statements reported by a business.
Unintentional mistakes in financial statements. Accounted for by restating
the prior-year financial statements that are in error.
The change in the value of a firm's foreign currency denominated accounts due to a
change in exchange rates.
Total liabilities exceed total assets. A firm with a negative net worth is insolvent on
Intentional misstatements or omissions of amounts or disclosures in
financial statements done to deceive financial statement users. The term is used interchangeably with fraudulent financial reporting.
The ease and quickness with which assets can be converted to cash.
The period of time for which financial statements are produced – see also financial year.
The principles, bases, conventions, rules and procedures adopted by management in preparing and presenting financial statements.
Accounting rate of return (ARR)
A method of investment appraisal that measures
the profit generated as a percentage of the
investment – see return on investment.
accounting rate of return (ARR)
the rate of earnings obtained on the average capital investment over the life of a capital project; computed as average annual profits divided by average investment; not based on cash flow
A set of accounts that summarize the transactions of a business that have been recorded on source documents.
The recording of revenue when earned and expenses when
incurred, irrespective of the dates on which the associated cash flows occur.
Well, frankly, accrual is not a good descriptive
term. Perhaps the best way to begin is to mention that accrual-basis
accounting is much more than cash-basis accounting. Recording only the
cash receipts and cash disbursement of a business would be grossly
inadequate. A business has many assets other than cash, as well as
many liabilities, that must be recorded. Measuring profit for a period as
the difference between cash inflows from sales and cash outflows for
expenses would be wrong, and in fact is not allowed for most businesses
by the income tax law. For management, income tax, and financial
reporting purposes, a business needs a comprehensive record-keeping
system—one that recognizes, records, and reports all the assets and liabilities
of a business. This all-inclusive scope of financial record keeping
is referred to as accrual-basis accounting. Accrual-basis accounting
records sales revenue when sales are made (though cash is received
before or after the sales) and records expenses when costs are incurred
(though cash is paid before or after expenses are recorded). Established
financial reporting standards require that profit for a period
must be recorded using accrual-basis accounting methods. Also, these
authoritative standards require that in reporting its financial condition a
business must use accrual-basis accounting.
A method of accounting in which profit is calculated as the difference between income when it is earned and expenses when they are incurred.
activity-based management (ABM)
a discipline that focuses on the activities incurred during the production/performance process as the way to improve the value received
by a customer and the resulting profit achieved by providing
A forceful and intentional choice and application of accounting principles
done in an effort to achieve desired results, typically higher current earnings, whether the practices followed are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles or not. Aggressive
accounting practices are not alleged to be fraudulent until an administrative, civil, or criminal proceeding takes that step and alleges, in particular, that an intentional, material misstatement
has taken place in an effort to deceive financial statement readers.
Also called surplus management, the task of managing funds of a financial
institution to accomplish the two goals of a financial institution:
1) to earn an adequate return on funds invested, and
2) to maintain a comfortable surplus of assets beyond liabilities.
Average accounting return
The average project earnings after taxes and depreciation divided by the average
book value of the investment during its life.
Bottom-up equity management style
A management style that de-emphasizes the significance of economic
and market cycles, focusing instead on the analysis of individual stocks.
A method of accounting in which profit is calculated as the difference between income
when it is received and expenses when they are paid.
Cash management bill
Very short maturity bills that the Treasury occasionally sells because its cash
balances are down and it needs money for a few days.
Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
a professional designation in the area of management accounting that
recognizes the successful completion of an examination,
acceptable work experience, and continuing education requirements
Change in Accounting Estimate
A change in accounting that occurs as the result of new information
or as additional experience is acquired—for example, a change in the residual values
or useful lives of fixed assets. A change in accounting estimate is accounted for prospectively,
over the current and future accounting periods affected by the change.
Change in Accounting Estimate
A change in the implementation of an existing accounting
policy. A common example would be extending the useful life or changing the expected residual
value of a fixed asset. Another would be making any necessary adjustments to allowances for
uncollectible accounts, warranty obligations, and reserves for inventory obsolescense.
Change in Accounting Principle
A change from one generally accepted accounting principle to another generally accepted accounting principle—for example, a change from capitalizing expenditures
to expensing them. A change in accounting principle is accounted for in most instances
as a cumulative-effect–type adjustment.
Constant dollar accounting
A method for restating financial statements by reducing or
increasing reported revenues and expenses by changes in the consumer price index,
thereby achieving greater comparability between accounting periods.
Method of accounting for sales or service agreements where completion
requires an extended period.
Corporate financial management
The application of financial principals within a corporation to create and
maintain value through decision making and proper resource management.
a discipline that focuses on techniques or
methods for determining the cost of a project, process, or
thing through direct measurement, arbitrary assignment, or
systematic and rational allocation
Cost Accounting Standards Board (CASB)
a body established by Congress in 1970 to promulgate cost accounting
standards for defense contractors and federal agencies; disbanded
in 1980 and reestablished in 1988; it previously issued
pronouncements still carry the weight of law for those
organizations within its jurisdiction
cost management system (CMS)
a set of formal methods
developed for planning and controlling an organization’s
cost-generating activities relative to its goals and objectives
cost object anything to which costs attach or are related
Creative Accounting Practices
Any and all steps used to play the financial numbers game, including
the aggressive choice and application of accounting principles, both within and beyond
the boundaries of generally accepted accounting principles, and fraudulent financial reporting.
Also included are steps taken toward earnings management and income smoothing. See Financial
Creative Acquisition Accounting
The allocation to expense of a greater portion of the price
paid for another company in an acquisition in an effort to reduce acquisition-year earnings and
boost future-year earnings. Acquisition-year expense charges include purchased in-process research
and development and an overly aggressive accrual of costs required to effect the acquisition.
Cumulative Effect of a Change in Accounting Principle
The change in earnings of previous years
based on the assumption that a newly adopted accounting principle had previously been in use.
Cumulative Effect of Accounting Change
The change in earnings of previous years assuming
that the newly adopted accounting principle had previously been in use.
Demand Management Policy
Fiscal or monetary policy designed to influence aggregate demand for goods and services.
See accrual-basis accounting.
The active manipulation of earnings toward a predetermined target.
That target may be one set by management, a forecast made by analysts, or an amount that is consistent
with a smoother, more sustainable earnings stream. Often, although not always, earnings
management entails taking steps to reduce and “store” profits during good years for use during
slower years. This more limited form of earnings management is known as income smoothing.
The production of financial statements, primarily for those interested parties who are external to the business.
a discipline in which historical, monetary
transactions are analyzed and recorded for use in the
preparation of the financial statements (balance sheet, income
statement, statement of owners’/stockholders’ equity,
and statement of cash flows); it focuses primarily on the
needs of external users (stockholders, creditors, and regulatory
Up-front gain recognized from the securitization and sale of a pool
of loans. Profit is recorded for the excess of the sales price and the present value of the estimated
interest income that is expected to be received on the loans above the amounts funded on the loans
and the present value of the interest agreed to be paid to the buyers of the loan-backed securities.
Generally Accepted Accounting Principals (GAAP)
A technical accounting term that encompasses the
conventions, rules, and procedures necessary to define accepted accounting practice at a particular time.
Generally accepted accounting principles
The rules that accountants follow when processing accounting transactions and creating financial reports. The rules are primarily
derived from regulations promulgated by the various branches of the AICPA Council.
generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)
This important term
refers to the body of authoritative rules for measuring profit and preparing
financial statements that are included in financial reports by a business
to its outside shareowners and lenders. The development of these
guidelines has been evolving for more than 70 years. Congress passed a
law in 1934 that bestowed primary jurisdiction over financial reporting
by publicly owned businesses to the Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC). But the SEC has largely left the development of GAAP to the
private sector. Presently, the Financial accounting Standards Board is
the primary (but not the only) authoritative body that makes pronouncements
on GAAP. One caution: GAAP are like a movable feast. New rules
are issued fairly frequently, old rules are amended from time to time,
and some rules established years ago are discarded on occasion. Professional
accountants have a heck of time keeping up with GAAP, that’s for
sure. Also, new GAAP rules sometimes have the effect of closing the barn
door after the horse has left. accounting abuses occur, and only then,
after the damage has been done, are new rules issued to prevent such
abuses in the future.
generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)
Procedures for preparing financial statements.
Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
A common set of standards and procedures
for the preparation of general-purpose financial statements that either have been established
by an authoritative accounting rule-making body, such as the Financial accounting
Standards Board (FASB), or over time have become accepted practice because of their universal
Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
GAAP is the term used to describe the underlying rules basis on which financial statements are normally prepared. This is codified in the Handbook of The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Institute of Management Accountants (IMA)
an organization composed of individuals interested in the field of management accounting; it coordinates the Certified management
Accountant program through its affiliate organization
(the Institute of Certified management Accountants)
internal accounting controls
Refers to forms used and procedures
established by a business—beyond what would be required for the
record-keeping function of accounting—that are designed to prevent
errors and fraud. Two examples of internal controls are (1) requiring a
second signature by someone higher in the organization to approve a
transaction in excess of a certain dollar amount and (2) giving customers
printed receipts as proof of sale. Other examples of internal
control procedures are restricting entry and exit routes of employees,
requiring all employees to take their vacations and assigning another
person to do their jobs while they are away, surveillance cameras, surprise
counts of cash and inventory, and rotation of duties. Internal controls
should be cost-effective; the cost of a control should be less than
the potential loss that is prevented. The guiding principle for designing
internal accounting controls is to deter and detect errors and dishonesty.
The best internal controls in the world cannot prevent most fraud
by high-level managers who take advantage of their positions of trust
management refers to the individuals in an entity that have the authority and the responsibility to manage the entity. The positions of these individuals, and their titles, vary from one entity to another and, to some extent, from one country to another depending on the local laws and customs. Thus, when the context requires it, the term includes the board of directors or committees of the board which are designated to oversee certain matters (e.g., audit committee).
The production of financial and non-financial information used in planning for the future; making decisions about products, services, prices and what costs to incur; and ensuring that plans are implemented and achieved.
a discipline that includes almost
all manipulations of financial information for use by managers
in performing their organizational functions and in
assuring the proper use and handling of an entity’s resources;
it includes the discipline of cost accounting
Management Accounting Guidelines (MAGs)
pronouncements of the Society of management Accountants of
Canada that advocate appropriate practices for specific
management accounting situations
Management buyout (MBO)
Leveraged buyout whereby the acquiring group is led by the firm's management.
management buyout (MBO)
Acquisition of the firm by its own management in a leveraged buyout.
Management/closely held shares
Percentage of shares held by persons closely related to a company, as
defined by the Securities and exchange commission. Part of these percentages often is included in
Institutional Holdings -- making the combined total of these percentages over 100. There is overlap as
institutions sometimes acquire enough stock to be considered by the SEC to be closely allied to the company.
This is difficult to define in a few words—indeed, an
entire chapter is devoted to the topic (Chapter 17). The essence of management
control is “keeping a close watch on everything.” Anything can
go wrong and get out of control. management control can be thought of
as the follow-through on decisions to ensure that the actual outcomes
happen according to purposes and goals of the management decisions
that set things in motion. Managers depend on feedback control reports
that contain very detailed information. The level of detail and range of
information in these control reports is very different from the summarylevel
information reported in external income statements.
management control system (MCS)
an information system that helps managers gather information about actual organizational occurrences, make comparisons against plans,
effect changes when they are necessary, and communicate
among appropriate parties; it should serve to guide organizations
in designing and implementing strategies so that
organizational goals and objectives are achieved
management expense ratio (MER)
The total expenses expressed as an annualized percentage of daily average net assets. MER does not include brokerage fees and commissions, which are also payable by the Fund.
An investment advisory fee charged by the financial advisor to a fund based on the fund's
average assets, but sometimes determined on a sliding scale that declines as the dollar amount of the fund increases.
The fee paid to the fund’s manager for supervising the administration of the fund.
management information system (MIS)
a structure of interrelated elements that collects, organizes, and communicates
data to managers so they may plan, control, evaluate
performance, and make decisions; the emphasis of the
MIS is on internal demands for information rather than external
demands; some or all of the MIS may be computerized
for ease of access to information, reliability of input
and processing, and ability to simulate outcomes of
the preference of a manager in how he/she interacts with other stakeholders in the organization;
it influences the way the firm engages in transactions and
is manifested in managerial decisions, interpersonal and
interorganizational relationships, and resource allocations
Related: Investment management.
a philosophy about increasing a firm’s performance by involving all workers and by ensuring
that all workers have access to operational and financial
information necessary to achieve performance improvements
Operational Earnings Management
management actions taken in the effort to create stable
financial performance by acceptable, voluntary business decisions. An example: a special discount
promotion to increase flagging sales near the end of a quarter when targets are not being met.
Passive investment management
Buying a well-diversified portfolio to represent a broad-based market
index without attempting to search out mispriced securities.
performance management system
a system reflecting the entire package of decisions regarding performance measurement and evaluation
Related: Investment management
Method of accounting for a merger in which the acquirer is treated as having purchased
the assets and assumed liabilities of the acquiree, which are all written up or down to their respective fair
market values, the difference between the purchase price and the net assets acquired being attributed to goodwill.
Real Actions (Earnings) Management
Involves operational steps and not simply acceleration
or delay in the recognition of revenue or expenses. The delay or acceleration of shipment would
be an example.
Regulatory accounting procedures
accounting principals required by the FHLB that allow S&Ls to elect
annually to defer gains and losses on the sale of assets and amortize these deferrals over the average life of the
responsibility accounting system
an accounting information system for successively higher-level managers about the performance of segments or subunits under the control
of each specific manager
The process of identifying and evaluating risks and selecting and managing techniques to
adapt to risk exposures.
Society of Management Accountants of Canada
the professional body representing an influential and diverse
group of Certified management Accountants; this body produces
numerous publications that address business management issues
Staff Accounting Bulletin (SAB)
Interpretations and practices followed by the staff of the Office of the Chief Accountant and the Division of Corporation Finance in administering the disclosure
requirements of the federal securities laws.
Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 52
This is the currency translation standard currently
used by U.S. firms. It mandates the use of the current rate method. See: Statement of Financial accounting
Standards No. 8.
Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 8
This is a currency translation standard previously in
use by U.S. accounting firms. See: Statement of accounting Standards No. 52.
Statement on Management Accounting (SMA)
a pronouncement developed and issued by the management
accounting Practices Committee of the Institute of management
Accountants; application of these statements is
through voluntary, not legal, compliance
an agreement between two or more firms
with complementary core competencies to jointly contribute
to the supply chain
the process of developing a statement of
long-range (5–10 years) goals for the organization and
defining the strategies and policies that will help the organization
achieve those goals
strategic resource management
organizational planning for the deployment of resources to create value for customers and shareholders; key varibles in the process include the management of information and the management of change in response to threats and opportunities
an approach to personnel management
that requires a department to analyze its staffing needs by
considering its long-term objectives and those of the overall
company and determining a specific combination of
permanent and temporary employees with the best skills
to meet those needs
the cooperative strategic planning,
controlling, and problem solving by a company and
its vendors and customers to conduct efficient and effective
transfers of goods and services within the supply chain
Related: asset management
the use of all techniques that help an organization achieve its goals
Top-down equity management style
A management style that begins with an assessment of the overall
economic environment and makes a general asset allocation decision regarding various sectors of the financial
markets and various industries. The bottom-up manager, in contrast, selects the specific securities within the
total quality management (TQM)
a structural system for creating organization-wide participation in planning and implementing a continuous improvement process that exceeds
the expectations of the customer/client; the application
of quality principles to all company endeavors; it is also known as total quality control
A variety of approaches that emphasize increasing shareholder value as the primary goal of every business.
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