Archives for March 2009

Difference between Carriage Inwards and Carriage Outwards?


carriage inwards or outwards Carriage refers to the costs of transporting goods to and from the firm. In the past, the purchase of goods would often result in two charges – the cost of the goods purchased and the cost of having them delivered to the business premises.

From the buyer’s point of view, the delivery charge would he referred to as “carriage inwards”. Any such carriage charges should be debited to the carriage inwards account in the general ledger.

The carriage inwards account is written off to the trading account at the end of the accounting period.

When the buyer sells the goods to his customer, he incurs further delivery charges. This cost is referred to as ‘carriage outwards”.  This costs are debited to the carriage outwards account in the general ledger.

Any carriage outwards charges are usually included in an item called ‘selling and distribution costs”.   Since this cost is incurred after the goods have been made ready for sale, the account is written off to the profit and loss account at the end of the accounting period.

Each type of carriage will be an expense and therefore will have a debit balance in the trial balance. However, these will appear in different sections of the trading and profit and loss account.

Accounting Treatment of Carriage Inwards and Carriage Outwards


Carriage Outwards 

Journal  Entry for Carriage Inwards:

Debit   Carriage Inwards

Credit    Bank

Journal  Entry for Carriage Outwards:

Debit   Carriage Outwards

Credit    Bank

Treatment in Trading, Profit and Loss Accounts:

Carriage inwards Trading account expense
Carriage outwards Profit & loss account expense


Carriage inwards is connected with the cost of getting goods into the business and ready for sale. As a result, it will be added on in the calculation for the cost of goods sold. Carriage outwards does not have anything to do with the cost of getting goods into saleable condition. Therefore it will appear with all the other overhead expenses and the profit and loss account.

Good to know:

Nowadays, the price quoted for goods being purchased will usually be inclusive of any delivery charge, and so a separate charge for carriage inwards (or outwards) is not very common. In cases where separate carriage inwards charges are incurred, the cost should be added on to the cost of purchases in the trading account. Consequently, a proportion of carriage inwards charges should be added to the purchase cost when determining the cost of closing stock.


Image courtesy of dok1 and Batman Comic Generator

What is the Difference between Sole Proprietorships, Partnerships and Limited Liability Companies?

Fish Soup @ Geylang East

Fish Soup @ Geylang East by kerfern

Sole Proprietorship

A sole-proprietor is a person who owns a sole-proprietorship business that is registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). A self-employed person is a person who earns a living by carrying on a trade, business, profession or vocation. A sole-proprietor/self-employed person do not report to a boss, because he is his your own boss. The income that he earns is considered business profits, not salary.  

Characteristics of Sole Proprietorship: 

  • Owned by one person or one company.  
  • A sole-proprietorship is not a legal entity (i.e. it cannot sue or be sued in its own name and it cannot own or hold any property). 
  • Profits are taxed at personal income tax rates. 

Some business owners choose to create partnerships or limited liability companies instead of a corporation. A partnership can also be called a firm. This refers to an association of a group of individuals working together in a business or professional practice.

Singapore Business District night view

Singapore Business District night view by *etoile


While corporations have rigid rules about how they are structured, partnerships and limited liability companies allow the division of management authority, profit sharing and ownership rights among the owners to be very flexible.

Partnerships fall into two categories. General partners are subject to unlimited liability. If a business can’t pay its debts, its creditors can demand payment from the general partners’ personal assets. General partners have the authority and responsibility to manage the business. They’re analogous to the president  and other officers of a corporation.


Limited partners escape the unlimited liability that the general partners have. They are not responsible as individuals, for the liabilities of the partnership. These are junior partners who have ownership rights to the profits of the business, but they don’t generally participate in the high-level management of the business. A partnership must have one or more general partners.

A limited liability company (LLC) is becoming more prevalent among smaller businesses. An LLC is like a corporation regarding limited liability and it’s like a partnership regarding the flexibility of dividing profit among the owners. Its advantage over other types of ownership is its flexibility in how profit and management authority are determined.

This can have a downside. The owners must enter into very detailed agreements about how the profits and management responsibilities are divided. It can get very complicated and generally requires the services of a lawyer to draw up the agreement.

A partnership or LLC agreement specifies how profits will be divided among the owners. While stockholders of a corporation receive a share of profit that’s directly related to how many shares they own, a partnership or LLC does not have to divide profit according to how much each partner invested. Invested capital is only of the factors that are used in allocating and distributing profits.

Registering a business in Singapore is easy:

Recognised Accounting Degrees for Practicing as a CPA in Singapore


photo: CarbonNYC

The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) lists the recognised professional qualifications for registration as a public accountant.

To be practicing Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Singapore, an applicant must at the time of his application for registration

(a) have passed the final examination in accountancy of one of the following:

(i) the Singapore Polytechnic for the professional diploma and for the degree course in accountancy for the years 1961 to 1969;
(ii) the University of Singapore for the degree of Bachelor of Accountancy;
(iii) the Nanyang University of Singapore for the degree of Bachelor of Commerce (Accountancy) or Bachelor of Accountancy;
(iv) the National University of Singapore for the degree of Bachelor of Accountancy;
(v) the Nanyang Technological Institute for the degree of Bachelor of Accountancy;
(vi) the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (formerly known as the Singapore Society of Accountants) Association of Chartered Certified Accountants of the United Kingdom Joint Scheme;
(vii) the Nanyang Technological University for the degree of Bachelor of Accountancy or Master of Business Administration (Accountancy);
(viii) the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore Professional Examination; or
(ix) the Singapore Management University for the degree of Bachelor of Accountancy or Master of Professional Accounting; or

(b) have passed the final examination in accountancy of one of the following or its recognised equivalent:
(i) the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS);
(ii) the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW);
(iii) the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI);
(iv) the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) (formerly known as the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants);
(v) the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (ICAA);
(vi) CPA Australia (formerly known as the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants);
(vii) New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA) (formerly known as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of New Zealand);
(viii) the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA);
(ix) the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA); or
(x) the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants of the United Kingdom (CIMA), except that CIMA members shall have passed the following subjects:

(A) Financial Reporting Environment;

(B) Accounting and Audit Practice;

(C) Advanced Taxation; and

(D) Company Law and Corporate Governance,

and shall have also passed such other examination and have fulfilled such other requirements as may be determined by the Oversight Committee.

How is accounting used in business?

2409490917_7e4acf91b7_o1-300x214It might seem obvious, but in managing a business, it’s important to understand how the business makes a profit. A company needs a good business model and a good profit model.  A business sells products or services and earns a certain amount of margin on each unit sold. The number of units sold is the sales volume during the reporting period. The business subtracts the amount of fixed expenses for the period, which gives them the operating profit before interest and income tax.

It’s important not to confuse profit with cash flow. Profit equals sales revenue minus expenses. A business manager shouldn’t assume that sales revenue equals cash inflow and that expenses equal cash outflows. In recording sales revenue, cash or another asset is increased. The asset accounts receivable is increased in recording revenue for sales made on credit. Many expenses are recorded by decreasing an asset other than cash. For example, cost of goods sold is recorded with a decrease to the inventory asset and depreciation expense is recorded with a decrease to the book value of fixed assets. Also, some expenses are recorded with an increase in the accounts payable liability or an increase in the accrued expenses payable liability.

Remember that some budgeting is better than none. Budgeting provides important advantages, like understanding the profit dynamics and the financial structure of the business. It also helps for planning for changes in the upcoming reporting period. Budgeting forces a business manager to focus on the factors that need to be improved to increase profit.  A well-designed management profit and loss report provides the essential framework for budgeting profit. It’s always a good idea to look ahead to the coming year. If nothing else, at least plug the numbers in your profit report for sales volume, sales prices, product costs and other expense and see how your projected profit looks for the coming year.

What does an audit report contain?




Most audit reports on financial statements give the business a clean bill of health, or a clean opinion. At the other end of the spectrum, the auditor may state that the financial statements are misleading and should not be relied upon. This negative audit report is called an adverse opinion. That’s the big stick that auditors carry. They have the power to give a company’s financial statements an adverse opinion and no business wants that. The threat of an adverse opinion almost always motivates a business to give way to the auditor and change its accounting or disclosure in order to avoid getting the kiss of death of an adverse opinion. An adverse audit opinion says that the financial statements of the business are misleading. The SEC does not tolerate adverse opinions by auditors of public businesses; it would suspend trading in a company’s stock share if the company received an adverse opinion from its CPA auditor.


One modification to an auditor’s report is very serious – when the CPA firm says that it has substantial doubts about the capability of the business to continue as a going concern. A going concern is a business that has sufficient financial wherewithal and momentum to continue it normal operations into the foreseeable future and would be able to absorb a bad turn of events without having to default on its liabilities. A going concern does not face an imminent financial crisis or any pressing financial emergency. A business could be under some financial distress but overall still be judged a going concern. Unless there is evidence to the contrary, the CPA auditor assumes that the business is a going concern. If an auditor has serious concerns about whether the business is a going concern, these doubts are spelled out in the auditor’s report.

What is acid test ratio and ROA ratio?


numbersInvestors calculate the acid test ratio, also known as the quick ratio or the pounce ratio. This ratio excludes inventory and prepaid expenses, which the current ratio includes, and it limits assets to cash and items that the business can quickly convert to cash. This limited category of assets is known as quick or liquid assets. The acid-text ratio is calculated by dividing the liquid assets by the total current liabilities. 


This ratio is also known as the pounce ratio to emphasize that you’re calculating for a worst-case scenario, where the business’s creditors could pounce on the business and demand quick payment of the business’s liabilities. Short term creditors do not have the right to demand immediate payment, except in unusual circumstances. This ratio is a conservative way to look at a business’s capability to pay its short-term liabilities.


One factor that affects the bottom-line profitability of a business is whether it uses debt to its advantage. A business may realize a financial leverage gain, meaning it earns more profit on the money it has borrowed than the interest paid for the use of the borrowed money. A good part of a business’s net income for the year may be due to financial leverage. The ROA ratio is determined by dividing the earnings before interest and income tax (EBIT) by the net operating assets. 


An investor compares the ROA with the interest rate at which the corporation borrowed money. If a business’s ROA is 14 percent and the interest rate on its debt is 8 percent, the business’s net gain on its capital is 6 percent more than what it’s paying in interest. 


ROA is a useful ratio for interpreting profit performance, aside from determining financial gain or loss. ROA is called a capital utilization test that measures how profit before interest and income tax was earned on the total capital employed by the business.

What are independent auditors?


accountant-copyrIndpendent CPA auditors are like referees in the financial reporting arena. The CPA comes in, does an audit of the business’s accounting system and methods and gives a report that is attached to the company’s financial statements. Publicly owned businesses are required to have their annual financial reports audited by independent CPA firms and any privately owned businesses have audits done as well because they know that an audit report will add credibility to their financial reports.


An auditor judges whether the business’s accounting methods are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Generally everything is in place and the financial report is a reliable document. But at times an auditor will wave a yellow or red flag. Some indicators of potential trouble include when the business’s capability to continue normal operations is in doubt because of what are known as financial exigencies, which could mean a low cash balance, unpaid overdue liabilities, or major lawsuits that the business doesn’t have the cash to cover.


An auditor must exercise professional skepticism, meaning the auditor should challenge the accounting methods and reporting practices of the client in order to make sure that its financial statement conform with accounting standards and are not misleading – in short, that the financial statement are fairly presented. Indeed, the words “fairly presented” are the exact words used in the auditor’s report.


A good auditor need technical know-how, but also needs to know how to be tough on the accounting methods of the client. His job is to be the agent of the shareholders and other users of the business’s financial report. It’s incumbent on an auditor to strictly uphold GAAP, and not let any irregularities slide. 


There are a number of well-known companies that engaged in accounting fraud recently  and that fraud was not discovered by the CPA auditors. Enron is one of these companies. In this case, the auditing firm, Arthur Anderson was found guilty of obstruction of justice because it destroyed audit evidence.

Careers in Accounting


accountant-copyrightedThere are many different careers in the field of accounting ranging from entry-level bookkeeping to the Chief Financial Officer of a company. To achieve positions with more responsibility and higher salaries, it’s necessary to have a degree in accounting as well as achieve various professional designations.


One of the primary milestones in any accountant’s career is to become a Certified Public Accountant or CPA. To become a CPA you have to go to college with a major in accounting. You also have to pass a national CPA exam. There’s also some employment experience required in a CPA firm. This is generally one to two years, although this varies from state to state. Once you satisfy all those requirements, you get a certificate that designates you as a CPA and you’re allowed to offer your services to the public.


Many CPAs consider this just one stepping stone to their careers. The chief accountant in many offices is called the controller. The controller is in charge of managing the entire accounting system in a business stays on top of accounting and tax laws to keep the company legal and is responsible for preparing the financial statements.


The controller is also in charge of financial planning and budgeting.  Some companies have only one accounting professional who’s essentially the chief cook and bottle washer and does everything. As a business grows in size and complexity, then additional layers of personnel are required to handle the volume of work that comes from growth. Other areas in the company are also impacted by growth, and it’s part of the controller’s job to determine just how many more salaries the company can pay for additional people without negatively impacting growth and profits. 

The controller also is responsible for preparing tax returns for the business; a much more involved and complex task than completing personal income tax forms! In larger organizations, the controller can report to a vice president of finance who reports to the chief financial officer, who is responsible for the broad objectives for growth and profit and implementing the appropriate strategies to achieve the objectives.

Entry level accountants can expect a very team oriented environment. Often they will start as a junior member of a team responsible for auditing an important account or preparing financial statements. It is imperative that junior members learn to pull their weight, and function as a capable, effective, and useful member of the unit. Anyone interested in this field can prepare for a bright career.

Difference between Accountants and Auditors

pencil-and-paper Accounting is a process of using a set of concepts and techniques to measure and report financial information about a business.  The business is generally considered to be a separate and distinct legal entity.  The information is potentially reported to a variety of different types of interested parties.  These include business managers, owners, investors, creditors, government regulators, financial analysts and even employees.

Auditing is a process involving the evaluating, scrutinizing  and the examination of transactions and systems that underlie an organization’s financial reports, with the ultimate goal of providing an independent report on the appropriateness of financial statements.

In other words, accountants are in charged of the day-to-day duties of maintaing the accounts, implementing the board financial strategy, if any. At the end of the period, accountant would produce Financial Statement, a summary report of the financial performance throughout the period. Whereas, auditor conduct a check on the accuracy of the financial statements, to ensure that there is no material misstatement of the financial statement prepared.

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Accountancy in Singapore


An accountant is a practitioner of accountancy, which is the measurement, disclosure or provision of assurance about financial information that helps managers, investors, tax authorities and other decision makers make resource allocation decisions. Accountants are vital business assets. They play a key role in commerce, industry and organizations large and small.

Accountants often carry fancy acronyms in their name cards such as CPA, FCPA, ACA and FCA. These letters describe individuals belonging to various professional accounting bodies. Certified Public Accountants (CPA) are typically members of local professional accounting bodies. In Singapore, the key accounting body governing accounting practice is the Insitute of Certified Public Accountant.

A Certified Public Accountant Singapore (CPA Singapore) is a professionally qualified, experienced and competent individual bound by a strict code of professional conduct and ethical standards, and backed by a strong professional body.

A sound knowledge of all aspects of business, constant reappraisal of technical advances and options, together with a trained ability to analyze with accuracy, enable the accountants to play a crucial part in many areas of opportunity. Aspiring accountants should be familiar with Singapore’s business and taxation laws and continually upgrade themselves throughout their career.

Many accountants, however, choose to specialize in a particular field of expertise – financial accounting, management accounting, auditing, financial management, taxation, company secretarial, insolvency, management consultancy and information technology.

Why Become An Accountant?

Career Advancement

An accounting career offers you a wide selection of learning and development programmes to help you develop strong leadership and analytical skills necessary to excel in the marketplace. Accountants are always among the top earning professionals in Singapore. According to, the top 8 accountants takes home a median pay of $4.0 million in YA2007 and $3.7 million the year before. In the private sector, they are the mainstays and in many cases, the accountant becomes the head of a financial department – General Manager, Chief Executive – the accountant’s training and experience can lead right to the top

A young accounting graduate usually begins his career  as an auditor in the “Big Four” accountancy firms. In Singapore they are PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young and KPMG. Generally, the junior associate progress from associate to manager/staff accountant, director to partner. Most of the Big Four companies service some of the most prestigious clients; working with them allows one to witness their progress and acquire valuable technical skills and experience in the process.

  • In the private sector an accounting degree opens doors to banking and merchant banking, management consulting and stock-broking and top positions within multinational companies and government offices.

Job Opportunities and Security

There is a huge demand for accountants who understand the specific needs of businesses, because the most common problem plaguing business owners was their inability to understand their finances. Every business, regardless of size has three basic tasks: sales/marketing, manufacturing, and accounting. Few careers are as in demand as accountants and bookkeepers are. Often, they are one of the first to be hired when a company is set up and the last to go when the business folds.

In 2007, The Straits Times reported that the Big Four were facing a serious staff shortage with many accountancy graduates going straight to banking or company finance departments. Despite the recent economic downturn, many accounting firms/departments are still hiring, albeit more judiciously and selective.