Financial Accounting, as it is commonly described, focuses on organizing the financial information of an entity into financial statements to help the decision making of people outside the organization, such as stockholders or suppliers, among others. Its objective is to historically record the economic life of an entity so that its operational development can be analyzed and interpreted by third parties. This is the international accepted definition of Financial Accounting, but one thing is its definition, and another very different one how it is applied to different economic environments.
In some countries with non-stable economies, such as the majority of Latin countries, Financial Accounting becomes essential for a company’s survival and is the most important aspect of business decisions. In the country of Colombia, for example, business decisions (supplying, investing, borrowing, lending) are made after analyzing the financial statements of the companies involved. In a country where assets are guarded thoroughly, organizations take extreme precautions before making any decisions that will affect those assets in any way.
Financial Statements become the most important source of information about companies involved in a business deal. Since they are of public use by law, they’re the first documents requested in any type of negotiation. To become a new supplier for another entity, for example, a company would have to present documents such as bank and clients or suppliers recommendation letters, but the most essential ones would be the Balance Sheet and the Income Statement of the fiscal year immediately prior to the date. Without these two documents, the entity would not be accepted as a supplier, even if the recommendation letters show it to be a very profitable and stable organization.
The main reason for financial statements to be so valued in the business environments of these types of economy countries is because they provide a very trustworthy source of information about an entity’s financial performance. It may not be a very different reason for why they are valued in every other economy, but especially in these ones, where investing has so many risks, and where procedures may take double the time of an average international company, resulting in time expenses, it helps make decisions easier.
Having the financial statements ready in time is also a priority of every President or General Manager of a company. Even though they’re not the ones directly involved in the process of elaborating these documents, they have a close supervision of the task. They’re responsible for making sure the Accounting Department is doing its work correctly and with the honesty and ethics required to be able to present accurate and true financial information. In Colombia, Financial Statements need to be signed by the Legal Representative of the company, who in the majority of the cases is the same General Manager or President or CEO; by the Statutory Auditor (or Company Auditor), and by the Comptroller. By signing them, they are confirming that the financial information recorded in the Balance Sheet and in the Income Statement, as well as the explanatory notes, is true and real and hasn’t been tampered with in any way.
Being a country where corruption sometimes messes up the flow of businesses, having the assurance that the financial information of a company is backed up by these three significant signatures, makes it easier to be able to trust an organization when business decisions need to be made. It also helps the company maintain its place in the industry and be recognized as profitable and stable.
Since Financial Statements play such an important role in the decision making of every type of organization, almost every administrative employee understands the basics of financial accounting, and know how to interpret a Balance Sheet. Even if they may not understand what every account means, they are instructed in what a good and acceptable Balance Sheet should look like and the importance of its information, related to their line of work. They also know how an Income Statement and its content is very important when preparing future budgets.
Even though the general importance of Financial Accounting is the same in every country, it plays a very significant and primordial role in Latin economic environments. That is why serious measures are taken to make sure that Financial Statements are done in the most ethical and transparent way, allowing Financial Accounting in non stable economies, to continue being a source of reliability and trust in the process of business decision making.