Dr. Kretov Kirill - Basic classification of corporate assets.Introduction to Various types of Intangibles.                ...
In contemporary society, knowledge has become far more complicated, specialized, and technical.Mistakes made in the operat...
2.0 Basic classification of corporate assets         Every organization possesses multiple types of assets, which it combi...
2.1 Identifiable Intangible Assets (Recognized in Accounting)        Intellectual property is most commonly associated wit...
methods that could be useful to everyone. For instance, there is a patent filed on the “process” of using modemto connect ...
Trademarks        Webster’s dictionary3 defines trademark as “a distinctive name, phrase, symbol, design, picture, or styl...
conveying information about a product. According to Tom Blackett 5, brands that keep their promise arebusiness assets. The...
2.2 Questionable Recognition        Accounting standards normally have high requirements regarding disclosure of informati...
There are other unidentifiable intangibles (that may not be present in the above lists), but conventionalaccounting rules ...
EVS 2000 (European Valuation Standards) (latest 2009)By TEGOVA (The European Group of Valuers’ Associations)There are thre...
markets. In other words, a business cost is determined by money flows from sale of the goods or servicesproduced by the bu...
When investor makes a decision to invest money (or buy some company) he normally wants to knowexactly what he is buying (o...
a similar price for that kind of information. Thus it is really an intangible asset, which can be valued using atleast the...
2.3 Intellectual Capital        Modern lines of world economy development, strengthening of a role of intellectual and inf...
In some models16, the client capital is called the capital of relations, or connections (relational capital),but it is und...
Ordering and systematization of existing terminology becomes pressing question on which, in particular,the method of intan...
About the author                   Present article is a part of Doctorate Thesis written by Dr. Kretov                   K...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Dr. Kretov Kirill - Basic classification of corporate assets. Introduction to Various types of Intangibles.

589 views
455 views

Published on

Dr.Kretov Kirill (Master of Arts in Human Resource Management, and Doctor of Business Administration) explains various types of intangible assets (non-physical resources) recognized (and not) by current accounting practices. This paper is an extract from the Doctorate Thesis written by Dr.Kretov Kirill in December 2009, Geneva / Montreaux, Switzerland. The author invites everyone to participate in his ongoing survey on the site http://www.kretov.ch

Published in: Business
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
589
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
1
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
2
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Dr. Kretov Kirill - Basic classification of corporate assets. Introduction to Various types of Intangibles.

  1. 1. Dr. Kretov Kirill - Basic classification of corporate assets.Introduction to Various types of Intangibles. “Making the invisible visible is the CEO’s job” (John Hagel, The McKinsey Quarterly)1.0 Introduction Amid the many complicated and creative models encountered over the last decade, it has becomeevident for most companies that the valuation of Intangible Assets and Intellectual Capital has proven to bemore theoretical than practical. Although a number of studies have been carried out on the valuation ofIntellectual Capital, most of the findings seem more theoretical than practical. The concept of intellectual capital has already been researched by many elite scholars, who have createdmany interesting theories. However, most of their work is purely theoretical, and their concepts and theories arenot widely accepted. Very few of them have been actually applied. For example, many papers have been writtenabout intellectual capital and its importance to a company’s performance; quantitative analyses and reportsshow that intellectual capital is an emerging competitive advantage that results in long-term profits and greatlyincreases the value of the company. However, current accounting practices recognize only a very limitednumber of intangible asset types (in terms of intellectual capital). From the accounting perspective, the choice isvery limited: there are R&D and Goodwill (the second being inapplicable to most companies). Only if thecompany is aware of the existence of some particular type of asset may it decide to estimate its value using agiven valuation method (if one is applicable). The problem is that the final value is not a guarantee of the realvalue of an asset. Another practitioner may not agree with the valuation principle applied and may proposeanother that he finds more appropriate, or someone might apply a number of theories to the Intellectual Capitalof a company and come up with a list of indicators that might not be accepted or understood by others whoprefer other concepts. Thus, it seems that the root of the problem is not the lack of evaluation methods but thelack of widely accepted standards for these methods and for the reporting of the results. Moreover, there are issues involving patents, trademarks, copyrights, and other forms of “know-how”:exclusive rights, the most profitable kind, are given only to patent holders. An accountant recognizes only thoseassets recognized by current accounting practices (as regulated by the IFRS). Since reporting unrecognizedassets is only optional, an accountant may decide not to spend time reporting them, especially if his motivationis not very high, and he wants to spare himself the work. Knowledge management scholars know that it ispossible to identify where knowledge comes from and classify it using various theories and taxonomies. Thiscan be helpful for companies that apply KM principles to create value through the continuous identification ofthe pieces of intellectual capital they create. The foregoing has described only a few of the perspectives fromwhich the field of intangibles can be considered.1.1 Historical Overview Intangible assets are not a modern invention or a phenomenon of the 21st century. Indeed, contrary topopular misconceptions, this type of asset has existed for a long time. Throughout human history, knowledgeand information have remained two of the most precious commodities. The caveman who discovered thesecret of manufacturing and used a spear to kill a mammoth faster and with less risk to himself possessed anintangible asset that meant the difference between life and death not only for the hunter-gatherer but also forhis community. Similarly, the inventors of the alphabet, calendar, and mathematics possessed equallyimportant intangible knowledge assets.
  2. 2. In contemporary society, knowledge has become far more complicated, specialized, and technical.Mistakes made in the operation of a nuclear plant, space shuttle, or biological weapons research facility canmean the deaths of millions. Much like in prehistoric times, knowledge, and expertise have remained assetsthat can mean the difference between the life and death of the tribe. Now, particularly in the developed world, businesses are increasingly reinventing themselves asservice-oriented operations. Manufacturing tangible commodities that consumers can touch, smell, or taste israpidly becoming a thing of the past. These transformations have become increasingly frequent across a widespectrum of organizations. Many companies rely almost entirely on intangible assets and consider them oneof their core competitive advantages. This was accurately described in the Harvard Business Review:Employees skills, IT systems, and organizational cultures are worth far more to many companies than theirtangible assets. Unlike financial and physical ones, intangible assets are hard for competitors to imitate, whichmakes them a powerful source of sustainable competitive advantage.( Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton,“Measuring the Strategic Readiness of Intangible Assets”). It is well known that most of the business resources in developed countries are intangible: in 1982, thematerial assets of American companies constituted 62% of their marketable value (Stewart T.A. IntellectualCapital. The New Wealth of Organizations.); after 10 years, that share fell to 38%, and current research (R.S.,and Norton D.P. Die strategiefokussierte Organisation: Fuhren mit der Balanced Scorecard.) estimates it atonly between 10% and 15%. By the end of 1999, the value of the property reflected in the balance sheetconstituted only 6.2% of Microsoft’s market price, 4.6% of SAP’s, and 6.6% of Coca-Cola’s (Daum J.H.Intangible Assets). In 1982, the share of the non-material resources in added value creation for the 500largest American companies was 38%, and by 1998 it was 85% (Du Voitel, R.D., Roventa, P. Mit Wissenwachsen–Strategisches Management von intellektuellem Kapital, in.: Perspektiven der StrategischenUnternehmensfuehrung.). The current investments structure strengthens the prevalence of non-material resources: in the early80s, 62% of investments in the American industry were acquisitions of material assets; by 1992, that sharedropped to 38% and was only 16% in 1999 . Since 1991, US enterprises have been spending more money oninformation processing equipment than on other equipment; information is replacing material merchandisestock, and knowledge is pushing out tangible fixed assets. Prominent economist Leonard Nakamura estimates that the United States invests at least $1 trillionper year in intangibles (Leonard Nakamura, “A Trillion Dollars a Year in Intangible Investment and the NewEconomy,” in John Hand and Baruch Lev, eds., Intangible Assets: Values, Measures, and Risks.), a figurederived from the fact that about 6 to 10 percent of the US GDP is spent on intangible assets. Investments inR&D and software have increased significantly over the last 40 years. Simultaneously, the average cost ofgoods sold has fallen by more than 10 percent since 1980. Services, which are counted as intangibles, rosefrom 22% of GDP in 1950 to 39% in 1999. These dramatic changes (Margaret Blair, and Steven Wallman, “The Growing Intangibles ReportingDiscrepancy,” Unseen Wealth: Report of the Brookings Task Force and Intangibles.) not only document a clearincrease in investments in intangible assets but also underscore the growing value of intangibles as animportant element of contemporary business.
  3. 3. 2.0 Basic classification of corporate assets Every organization possesses multiple types of assets, which it combines to produce goods andservices. The objective of this section is to classify these assets based on their common attributes. All assets can be divided into two major types. The first type incorporates conventional assets that canbe touched, sensed, and felt: these are known as tangible assets. Any asset that does not fit the abovedescription can be categorized as intangible. According to IFRS (IAS-38 Intangible Assets, Issued in September1998, revised in January 2008.), an Intangible Asset is an identifiable non-monetary asset that does not havephysical substance. An intangible asset must be identifiable, a requirement that distinguishes it from goodwill.Tangible assets are usually associated with intangible assets, as represented in the diagram by the overlapbetween the two major categories. For instance, when an organization produces physical commodities, it willusually have some form of intellectual property (IP) associated with and involved in the manufacturingprocess.Most physical products, however, cannot be patented in their entirety. For example, a notebook computermanufactured by Sony may include not only a patented CPU cooling technology, the Sony brand name, andthe VAIO trademark but also a Blue-ray player, which relies on technology developed and patented by theBlue-Ray Disk Association (BDA). Similarly, automobile industry giants like BMW incorporate components,such as GPS systems and MP3 players, that are patented by other organizations.On the other hand, an organization can also possess intellectual property that has not yet been employed inany manufacturing or production process. For example, General Motors maintains an extensive portfolio ofinventions and licensed intellectual property in addition to its vast array of trademarks and patents used incurrent product offerings. Thus, an overlap between tangible and intangible assets does exist but is onlypartial.Furthermore, the diagram also includes financial assets, which are intangible by definition. Cash and itsequivalents are not real property, because cash needs no valuation; however, it can still be secured by physicalassets. For this reason, the diagram illustrates a partial overlap between financial and tangible assets.J. Cohen proposes that Intangible assets can be categorized into two distinct groups, identifiable andunidentifiable. In addition, intangibles (or proto-assets) share some of the attributes of identifiable andunidentifiable assets but do not fit neatly into either of these two categories. Here we see the difference inopinion about the essence of Intangible Assets. From an accounting standpoint (i.e., for the IFRS), an IA is anidentifiable non-monetary asset, but J. Cohen states that the IA may be further split into identifiable,unidentifiable, and proto categories. Those who begin to explore this field farther will see more seriousdisagreements among researchers regarding terminology and concepts. In my opinion, an asset should becalled by a name recognized by accounting practices: if it is not recognized but is clearly identified andvaluated, then it is an asset.
  4. 4. 2.1 Identifiable Intangible Assets (Recognized in Accounting) Intellectual property is most commonly associated with the concept of identifiable intangible assets andincludes patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets. These elements all share one salient commonality –they are accorded special legal protection or recognition and are deemed property as a matter of law. Recognition and protection of intellectual property is not a development of modern times. TheCopyright Act was enacted in the United States in 1790, while President Jefferson’s Patent Act of 1793 codifiedthe concept of patents. Legislation, however, has occasionally proven to be inadequate, raising the possibility ofbenefits derived from the ownership of intellectual property being removed. For example, in 2003 alone, 308out 526 patent infringement suits filed in the United States were deemed invalid or unenforceable. Aside from temporary monopolies, the major benefit of intellectual property ownership is its potentialmarketability. Patents are routinely sold, licensed and bought. IP assets are identifiable, separable and are oftenpurchased or assigned to someone other than the inventor or creator.Research and Development It is probably a good idea to begin the discussion about types of Identifiable intangibles with Researchand Development (R&D). Historically there were only two intangible items reported in public companyfinancial statements: R&D and Goodwill. For this reason R&D expense records of public firms have been thetopic of widespread academic research. R&D is defined as an identifiable intangible asset because it may result in the creation of intellectualproperty. For example a company’s research may lead to patents that can be bought and sold separately.Marketable patents, however, are not the only purpose of R&D investments - they often lead to improvedmanufacturing techniques, trade secrets and other types of intellectual property that will never be patented, butwill nonetheless improve the company’s competitiveness. Consequently R&D has the potential for the creationof other assets, some of which are discussed below.Patents There are three basic types of patents, which include utility, design, and plant patents. (See U.S. CodeTitle 35 – Patents1, for a full description of patents and patent laws.) For the patent to become enforceable itshould be listed in at least one registry of intellectual property, some of which can include The United StatesPatent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office, the Japanese Patent Office, and WorldIntellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The core purpose of all of these offices is to act as the registry of patent information. Theseorganizations check whether a patent application meets various criteria (must be “novel, non-obvious, anduseful”) and if so, records the invention as having been created and owned by patentee. The application processis not rapid and the cost to obtain a patent is not nominal. The author of this paper (Dr.Kretov Kirill) resides inSwitzerland and has recently sent a patent application for “a method of password protection against varioustypes of key-logging techniques” to the European Patent Office (EPO). Besides attorney costs to help draft theapplication, simply starting the process costs CHF 3,600 and the first results are expected to arrive no earlierthan six months after the date of application. Normally it takes two to three years to win patent approval. After asuccessful application, the patent holder has the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling itsinvention for a period of 20 years (which is why patents are often described as temporarily granted monopolies). Perhaps most interesting is a subset of utility patents knows as process or method patents. During theinternet boom of the late 1990s, many start-up technological firms have filed for process patents that described1 U.S. Code Title 35, http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode35/.
  5. 5. methods that could be useful to everyone. For instance, there is a patent filed on the “process” of using modemto connect to the Internet. Most famous are probably Amazon’s “1-Click” buying feature and Microsoft’sdouble-click patent. Some critics of the USPTO allege that during 1990s, patent reviews have failed to take intoaccount the test of “non-obviousness”. Many suggested that the life of Internet-related process patents should bereduced to under 20 years. However, in spite of the fact that many Internet-related process patents were approved only a fewresulted in economic benefit to their inventors. It is probably logical to ask: “Why grant patents at all?” There isa simple economic rationale: if inventors cannot protect their work and make some money of it, they have littlemotivation to create the invention in the first place. The right to exclude others from using the invention is akind of reward for investing the efforts to develop a patentable idea or technology. Patent law generallysupports the notion of monopolies being oftentimes good for customers. The enforced expiration of patentssupposedly creates the right balance: enough protection to encourage innovation, but not so much as toencourage abuse.Copyright U.S. copyright law was established in 1790, during the Second Session of Congress, convened onJanuary 4th and the bill was signed into law on May 31st by George Washington. However the initial idea ofcopyright goes back to the late fifteenth-century England when the printing press was introduced. Copyright isusually made for written material or creative works, such as books, photographs, music, video records, andsoftware code. The process of applying for copyright is relatively straight forward – the creator of work ownsthe copyright as soon as the work is created. Unlike patents, filing for copyright registration simply gives noticethat the creator is claiming copyright to the work, but it does not conclusively establish ownership. Furthermore,the copyright office does not screen submission for possible conflicts with existing copyrighted materials. Up until 1980s, owners of copyrighted materials, such as books or audio and video records were notfaced with mass copying of their works. But lately, due to the rapid development of technology (especially theInternet) enormous quantities of copyrighted material were digitalized. At this point it might be interesting to note copyright issues related to digital media and to mention theconcept of “fair use”. Fair use is “… any use of copyrighted material that does not infringe copyright eventhough it is done without the authorization of the copyright holder and without an explicit exemption frominfringement under copyright law.2” However, fair use is widely misinterpreted. For example if someone buys acomputer game for about EUR 100, it is logical to expect that the buyer will not be happy to lose it due toaccidental scratching or other physical damage caused to the disk. DVD copying software can be used to makea backup copy, so that if the original disc stops working, the buyer does not lose their money. However, there is no guarantee that the buyer will not decide to share this backup with other people.Uploading the image file (exact copy of the disc) to a file-swapping peer-to-peer network may expose it tomillions of people, potential buyers who will not pay for game, but use its pirated copy instead. Somecompanies are integrating anti-copying techniques that complicate the copying process, but at the cost of thebuyer’s ability to create a backup copy. In other words DVD-ripping and peer-to-peer networking software itself can be very helpful, and mayhave socially valuable legal uses, even if it often is used for illegal ones. Copyright holders struggle to find asolution that will help to prevent unauthorized use of their work, but with minimal success so far.2 Congressional Budget Office, Copyright Issues in Digital Media, http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/57xx/doc5738/08-09-Copyright.pdf(August 2004) p.X.
  6. 6. Trademarks Webster’s dictionary3 defines trademark as “a distinctive name, phrase, symbol, design, picture, or styleused by a business to identify itself to consumers”. Just like copyright, trademarks can be established throughcommon-law usage. The registration process is somewhere between copyrighting and patenting in terms of theamount of review conducted and legal assistance required. There are legal advantages to registration, buttrademark search is not necessary. An attorney normally conducts one search only to determine what othertrademarks exist that could be confused with the one under consideration. It is even possible for two verysimilar trademarks to coexist, provided that they are not likely to be confused. For example it is possible thatsome plastic-window manufacturer will apply for the trademark called “Windows”, even if a very similartrademark is registered by Microsoft. However if a start-up software developer company will create its webbrowser and apply for the “Internet Explorer” trademark they most likely will not obtain it, simply because theproduct classes are very similar and likely to cause confusion.Trade Secrets Trade secrets are types of assets that result from a certain way of doing business or proprietarytechnology that provides competitive advantage to its holder. It is something that is used in ongoing business,like a unique compilation process or data mining system. According to the Uniform Trade Secret Act (UTSA): "Trade secret" means information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program device, method, technique, or process, that: (1) derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use, and (2) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.” 4 Simply speaking, trade secrets are something that provides economic value because they remainunknown to the competition. For example one company may abandon e-mail protocol as the communicationchannel between workers and switch to an instant messaging service. Derived economic value could be the lackof spam, instant message delivery, and improved security. In the meantime, its competitors will still using slowand unsecure e-mails, waste 90% of their traffic on spam, and wonder why messages have been sent, but notreceived. Unlike patents, owning a trade secret does not prevent others from using it. Two firms canindependently and simultaneously hold the same information as the trade secret, but they cannot hold twoseparate patents on exactly the same invention. There is no way someone can prevent another company fromusing instant messaging service as the internal channel of communication, except if the company is unaware ofthis possibility.Brands Brands are often confused with trademarks – in fact, the author (Dr. Kirill Kretov) of this paper wassurprised to find that Webster’s Merriam dictionary defines brand as synonym to trademark. It is not - brandsare much more than simply names or trademarks. A brand is an economic asset, because it adds value by3 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. (Springfield, MA: Merriam- Webster, 2003).4 National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, Uniform Trade Secrets Act,http://nsi.org/Library/Espionage/usta.htm (Minneapolis, MN: NCCUSL, August 2-9, 1985), $1.4.
  7. 7. conveying information about a product. According to Tom Blackett 5, brands that keep their promise arebusiness assets. They attract loyal buyers who regularly return to them, making it possible for the brand ownerto forecast cash flows and to plan and manage the development of the business with greater confidence.Because of the brand’s ability to secure income it can be classified as a productive asset in the same way as anyother, more traditional business assets like equipment, cash, investments, and so on. At the same time brandowners have the incentive to “keep their promise”. If eventually the market discovers fraud the company risksto lose a significant number of its clients. The author of this paper is a great fan of all Sony products - he believes that this company producesbeautiful, innovative and durable products and, as a result, he is willing to pay more for their quality. But thereare many other Japanese brands available on the market and if suddenly Sony decides to cut corners and tradelow quality products under its good name, the author will simply switch to available alternatives.Software Code Software code is said to be one of the most complicated intellectual properties to codify. It is possible toobtain a patent for the business process that the code enables or trademark certain features of the software. Infact, even some part of the code can be kept as a trade secret while the code itself can be simply copyrighted. However, this is complicated by different accounting treatments which largely depend on whether thesoftware regarded as an input to the organization’s manufacturing process, or whether the software is the firm’sproduct is and of itself. In other words the firm may use and/or sell software code. For example MicrosoftOffice is a very useful application that organizations might use for word processing or spreadsheet calculation.However the cost of license for a given number of workplaces may not be treated as valuable intangibleproperty. At the same time MS Office is an extremely valuable intangible property to its creator Microsoft. Notethat only Microsoft holds the source code, while those who buy licenses are only given its compiled version.5 Tom Blackett, “What is Brand?” in Brands and Branding, Rita Clifton and John Simmons, eds. (Princeton, NJ: Bloomberg Press,2003) 18-9.
  8. 8. 2.2 Questionable Recognition Accounting standards normally have high requirements regarding disclosure of information about non-material (intangible) assets. For example, IFRS-38 requires that financial reports should include the followinginformation for each type (class) of assets: methods of amortization, results of re-evaluations, estimated lifeperiods (asset remains useful), and other explanations of significant changes in total value of non-materialassets. Reporting should also include the total cost of R&D, which is considered as spending for the currentperiod. However, it is the specific company that develops a classification of non-material assets, normally basedon some principle of their homogeneity. In other words, IFRS recommends disclosure of information about valuable intangible (non-material)assets that are owned by a company but not recognized by current accounting practices (CAP). At the sametime, the report format can be defined by a company. As a result, we have a lack of standardization and anightmare for investors, who have to compare parameters that are very often of different natures andincomparable. Some reports with information about particular “assets” may be not incomparable just with othercompanies but even with reports from the same company for different time periods. Some researchers 6 havealready identified this negative side of flexibility and freedom in reporting and classification allowed by IFRS. 7 As can be seen, then, current accounting practices only recognize R&D (primarily replacement cost). Itis possible to calculate the total cost of Human Resources. But there are no practical and widely accepted toolsor techniques for evaluation of intangible assets separately, at least from the accounting perspective. In the tablebelow (table 2.1) there is a list of intangible assets classified as recognized and not recognized by CAP(recommendations from IFRS). Recognized in accounting (mainly in IAS-38) Not recognized in accounting Trade marks Expenses on training and education Software Advertizing Expenses Licenses and Franchises Reorganizational Expenses Patents Research expenses Copyrights Stuff (Personnel) skills and abilities Service and exploitation rights Technical knowledge Recipes, formulas, models, projects and concepts Market share Source Codes and documented algorithms List of clients Acquired Goodwill (IAS-3) Brand names Other intangible assets, regulated by various Internal Goodwill standards8 Classification of assets by their recognition in IFRS. Also, from an accounting standpoint there are “unidentifiable intangible assets”. These assets are specialin the sense that they remain hidden (at least in the accounting sense) until a transaction like a merger oracquisition gives rise to their identification. Goodwill is such a type of an asset that is only valuated undercertain circumstances and may have significantly different value depending on those circumstances.6 Wayne, S.U., Challenges from the New Economy. Business and Financial Reporting, SPECIAL REPORT/Financial AccountingStandards Board, April 2001. www.fasb.com7 At this point the idea of need of universal taxonomy model and superior reporting standard came to the author’s mind.8 Discussed in IAS 12, 17, 19, 27, 28, 31, 32, 39, etc.
  9. 9. There are other unidentifiable intangibles (that may not be present in the above lists), but conventionalaccounting rules do not provide much insight into valuating them. Between two very similar (in terms ofidentifiable assets) companies, one might be more profitable than another. Various unidentified factors accountfor one company being more efficient than another. Consider two very similar high-tech companies, both doingbusiness by developing software and selling it on the Internet. All visible characteristics of both companies arevery similar but one, let’s call it Company A, generates 10% more sales each month than Company B. If abigger holding company decides to acquire a high-tech firm, it might be willing to pay more for company Athan for company B, simply because A is more profitable. This difference may appear as Goodwill on thefinancial statement. But why is A more efficient? It could be because company B was focused on designingtheir portal by using nice graphics and animated menus to make their site look more attractive than that ofcompany A. At the same time, company A paid more attention to cross-browser compatibility, so that the pagecorrectly displays in all browsers. Thus some potential buyers with very specific web browsers are simplyunable to execute the shopping cart script on the company’s B portal, while everything runs smoothly on theircompetitor’s (company A) portal. It is possible that those users of specific browsers account for the percentdifference in the amount of sales generated by both companies.If company A identifies that it is more efficient because of its portal’s compatibility, it may wish to keep thisfact secret, thus the reason for its efficiency will become a trade secret. In other words, when the source ofefficiency is identified, the subject asset becomes an identifiable one. The cross-compatibility module willbecome a trade secret or know-how. However, often that efficiency remains unidentified and in many cases themanagement is unable to pinpoint the reason for it.Goodwill Goodwill is probably the most commonly discussed unidentifiable asset. It has already been mentionedthat goodwill is one of two intangible items that were routinely reported in public company financial statements(another one is R&D). Goodwill shows up on a companys books when it acquires another company, and thebuyer naturally has to pay more for it than the fair value of the net identifiable assets, both tangible andintangible. Numerous goodwill definitions can be found in various documents and standards regulating the businessaccounting and estimate activities (IFRS, USA GAAP). Note that given definitions are paraphrased and notexact citations from sources.IFRS 3 "Companies merger" (International Financial Reporting Standards)By IASB (International Accounting Standards Board)Goodwill arising from merger of the companies is the sum paid by the buyer over the purchase marketable value inexpectation of future economic gains. The future economic gains can result from the synergy effect of the acquiredidentified non-material assets or assets which separately are not subject to acknowledgement in the financial reporting butwhich are a part of the purchase cost. Goodwill is the excess of a purchase cost over the acquired share in fair value of theidentified acquired assets, which are inseparable from the target company. Actual goodwill cost is the purchase cost minusthe difference of fair value of identified assets, obligations and contingent obligations.SFAS 142 "Goodwill and other intangible assets"(Financial Accounting Standards)By USGAAP (US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles)Goodwill is the cost excess of an acquired company over the cost of its identified assets minus obligations. Goodwillreflects such factors as customer demand satisfaction, good management, production efficiency, successful location, etc.
  10. 10. EVS 2000 (European Valuation Standards) (latest 2009)By TEGOVA (The European Group of Valuers’ Associations)There are three categories of non-material assets subject to evaluation: business goodwill (unallotted non-material assets),personal goodwill, and identified non-material assets. Business goodwill is inseparable from the company and can beconsidered in the balance sheet after company sale, according to IFRS. Personal goodwill is not transferred under sale andis not considered at company cost calculation. As can be seen from the given definitions, in various business accounting standards, there are practicallyno discrepancies concerning the essence of goodwill. Thus, most of the time, goodwill value appears ifcompany acquisition takes place, and the difference between the purchase cost and the fair value of identifiedassets is calculated. In other words, the traditional understanding of goodwill origins lies in the following: Goodwill ariseswhen a business is acquired at a price exceeding its assets’ marketable values sum. In turn, this excess can beexplained this way: The business market price as a whole is comprised of the cost of all assets, including theones not reflected in the balance sheet. As it is known that in the balance sheet un-identifiable9 assets cannot(should not) be reflected, their cost is embodied in goodwill. The residual method of goodwill calculation isbased on it. However goodwill takes place not only when the company possesses unrecorded intangible assets. We cangive examples of some factors irrelevant to the value of intangible company assets that influence goodwill valueand are subject to be reflected in the company-buyer balance sheet:  Cost of the identified assets (the more non-material assets are capitalized, the less remain for goodwill);10  Sales price of an acquired enterprise depending on a sellers ability to prove the high price or on the buyers ability to beat down the price, on commission intermediaries, etc.;  Identifiable assets evaluation errors (cost calculation is based on taken balance, not marketable value of net assets);  Award paid at acquisition (excess of purchasing price over market capitalization at the moment of purchasing);  A value of all company obligations (more obligations lower the value of goodwill);  Goodwill allowances methods (in different national accounting standards, allowance during the permitted by accounting standards period; immediate allowance of this value at the expense of equity capital or absence of the allowance in general is accepted);  External environment influence: favorable location, favorable conjuncture, new preferences of consumers, special taxation rates, etc.;  Identified assets depreciation methods; The marketable value of both assets and the business as a whole is determined for cases of probablemost effective utilization.11 It is obvious that the most effective methods of use for separate assets and businessas a whole cannot coincide: The asset markets develop under the influence of different factors than the business9 In this context we also assume all identifiable intangible assets that are not recognized by current accounting practices (seeprevious section).10 Ideally, if all assets are identified and properly valued, goodwill should be equal to zero. But that is impossible, since many assetsjust cannot be fairly valued, and some of them are even hard to identify.11 IVS 2007 (International Valuation Standards), published by International Valuation Standards Council.
  11. 11. markets. In other words, a business cost is determined by money flows from sale of the goods or servicesproduced by the business and the cost of separate assets necessary for production – by money flows from sale ofthese assets. Thus, efficient use of the business as a whole and of separate assets are non-comparable, which meansthat the business as a whole and separate assets marketable values are also non-comparable. Completeness ofcompany asset representation in the balance sheet does not matter: If the cost of all assets is entered into thebalance sheet, even those not identified by standards of the business accounting, the sum of the assetsmarketable values basically will not coincide with business cost as a whole. If cost in these assets’ use withinthis business is higher than cost at average market alternative method of use, the goodwill will be positive, if not– negative. Still, negative goodwill does not testify to inefficient activities within the business if we understandan effective business as the one which has assets return at an average branch level. Incomparability valuationsof business as a whole and of separate assets is caused by the fact that the business valuation as a whole is madewith a view of business continuation, and evaluation of each asset is made proceeding from the assumption ofits independent sale (separately from the property complex included in the business). To confirm the above we will present the following provisions. Goodwill evaluation is always attachedto the value assessment of a business as a whole, which non-material assets and intellectual property valuationspecialists specify. Business cost calculation methods are based on revealing forecast data concerning companyactivities, on assets creation costs measurement or on comparison of activity indicators with the comparablecompanies from an objective database. From the market point of view a business cost shall not depend on thecost of its elements, as business is an "ongoing concern", and its partition into elements shall happen only with aview of real or fictitious liquidation. Acting business is always considered as a single complex which willcontinue to act in the foreseeable future (IFRS, Principles).12 Most material and non-material assets, at their merge in business, lose their liquidity because of theirgreater specificity and sometimes complete inseparability from the business. These are assets which are createdspecifically for this business and have no other application, as owing to technological specificity and toattachment to a business site. (Tangible examples are various constructions like bridges and pipelines; anintangible example could be a value associated with personal ties of ex-owners with clients and suppliers.)Besides, sometimes there are restrictions in their use: long-term obligations, contracts, governmentrequirements (for example, ecological regulations), or social responsibility of the business. It is also impossibleto dismiss management and personnel errors. Under these conditions, market evaluations of assets are difficultand can be replaced with substitution costs. Thus, assets often lose their independent marketable value; itremains only as a historic fact of investments realization into these assets in the past. This cost is also necessaryto investors as a reference point for risk identification of present and future investments. Bringing it all together, we can conclude that the goodwill concept can be used in a narrow and a widesense. In a narrow sense, goodwill is understood as the accounting assets meeting the financial reportingstandards criteria. Only acquired goodwill is acknowledged; internally created goodwill is forbidden to reflectin the balance sheet. The goodwill size is determined as a difference between the acquisition value of thecompany and the book value of its material, non-material and cash assets and obligations. In a wide sense,goodwill is a complex of all intangible company assets. Hence, we can speak of the goodwill of an operatingcompany only in the meaning different from accounting sense. The approximate sense of this meaning isexpressed by the terms reputation, business standing, or/and company brand. But such goodwill (in a widesense) is not shown in the balance sheet. Some authors, speaking about goodwill, prefer to call it "the companyprice" or "business reputation", keeping the same sense.12 Roslender R. and R. Fincham, Thinking critically about intellectual capital accounting, Accounting, Auditing & AccountabilityJournal, 2001, vol. 14, no. 4, pp.383-99.
  12. 12. When investor makes a decision to invest money (or buy some company) he normally wants to knowexactly what he is buying (or simply speaking, what he gets in exchange for his money). If it is a servicecompany (an IT company that operates in the field of software development or web applications), then mostlikely the sum total of all of its intangible assets is much smaller than the overall company value. This valuewill most likely appear in some form of goodwill, but what makes these numbers? With current accountingpractices, in many cases we deal with an “expensive black box”. This is a reason why a prospective buyer willperform a due-diligence of the company. It will help to evaluate the intangible assets owned by this company.Human Capital The term human capital came into the business lexicon after Gary Becker (University of Chicagoeconomist and Nobel Prize-winner) published a book titled “Human Capital” in 1964. Becker (along with JacobMincer, Milton Friedman, Sherwin Rosen, and Ted Schultz) created the economic concept of human capital asdistinct from typical financial or physical assets, because of its difference from them in the sense that humancapital cannot be separated from the humans who possess it. “It is fully in keeping with the capital concept astraditionally defined to say that expenditures on education, training, medical care, etc., are all investments incapital.”13 Soon after Becker developed the concept of human capital, economists and consultants began tosubdivide and classify it. Simply speaking, it means both physical and intellectual ability. Many researchers state that human resources are the most valuable assets of an organization. But howcan the capital value of human resources be found using current accounting practices? For the intellectual organization that focuses on creation of various types of intellectual capital (notspeculation, but real innovative development) and that has the biggest portion of its value allocated to intangibleassets, people are everything. The company can be evaluated by calculating the amount of all the HR spending(salaries, payments to outsourced workers, training programs, various incentives, etc.). Someone may say thatthis is precisely what is done to calculate the cost, but cost is not a value the capital represents. It is more of acost as capital value concept. It may sound nonsensical, but it basically means that if someone incurs cost itassumes that something was bought (money was changed to something). No matter whether that something wastangible or intangible in nature, it has a value and a price. More important is whenever that something is, it isuseful to others (how many people would love to have it). If there were many of them, what would be theirprice, and how would this price be determined? Also, if that something was bought on the market, for manybuyers the cost would be similar (this product or service has a fixed price). Thus it can be said that it is a sort ofvaluation using the market approach. However, the value really depends on the type of asset you hold and thesupply/demand curves for it. If the new owner obtained it for a lower price than others, it means he has goodcontacts (refers to relational capital in IC concept). In relation to HR, if you have a project where you need professionals to do work for you, you don’tsimply spend money, but you get some quality work and even if it doesn’t have a material form it still hasvalue. For example, it could be consultation with a lawyer in Switzerland; project duration is 4-6 hours and anhourly rate would be between 300 and 1000 Swiss francs. Depending on your contacts (RC) the cost of project(outsource) will be between 1500 and 5000Chf. But after the project’s completion and payment, you begin toown something - it could be answers to questions asked during consultation hours or some other piece ofknowledge from the lawyer consulting with you. In other words, you become the owner of some piece ofintellectual capital. If it is not very specific to your needs, probably there are many others who are willing to pay13 Becker, Gary, Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education (Chicago: University ofChicago Press, 1993) 15-6.
  13. 13. a similar price for that kind of information. Thus it is really an intangible asset, which can be valued using atleast the cost and market approaches (more about evaluation will be discussed in later sections of this thesis). However, the salary is a very average reflection of the real creativity of a given person and valuegenerated (profit associated) from it. Also, there are industry leaders and lagers – industry leaders are those whopay above the average salary set by industry in order to acquire the best people. Industry lagers normally paybelow average, but it is not that their human resources are worse in terms of creativity, skills, knowledge orexperience than those in big companies. Consider all the possible areas of expertise that are available to themodern IT companies: There are big companies that are best in providing their particular products and serviceson the market, but they can’t be best in all possible market niches. It makes possible the situation when a littlegroup of experts in particular field are a lot more productive in a certain task (Activity) than a research center ofsome big company. Also, worth mentioning is that it seems like in today’s economy companies no longer compete in termsof best technology; it is the competition of patented technologies and various licenses. Research anddevelopment, including creativity, are tied by various legal barriers (patent sharks), so that many professionalsare not allowed to enter a particular field of technology.
  14. 14. 2.3 Intellectual Capital Modern lines of world economy development, strengthening of a role of intellectual and informationresources for production of competitive products have led to occurrence of one of the most scaled financialproblems. Its essence can be described as follows: as methods of a product creation have changed, and knowledgehas turned to one of major factors of new cost creation, it is necessary to reconstruct in appropriate way thecontent of the public reporting of the companies before their proprietors and other investors. The reporting shallcontain the information on cost major factors: company strategy, future monetary flows, non-financial activities,intangible company assets, including business standing. Of course, the public reporting is not limited to only the financial statements. As it was mentionedbefore, IFRS recommends publication of information about intangible assets not-recognizable by CAP. Forinstance, there are various notes and discussions reported in annual reports (like K-10). However, this fieldrequires farther standardization otherwise it has little practical value. In this paper, Kretov Kirill applies someconcepts of intellectual capital in order to develop a reporting model for the complete capital structure. Initially the problem of evaluation of intangible factors has arisen in information-saturated companieswhere the amount of material assets is insignificant, and the mental potential is high. Investors were not inclinedto invest to such companies, and in front of the managers there was a task of calculation of their intangibleassets value and of informing investors to create more adequate picture about the company activities of the andits prospects. Modern idea about intangible factors of new cost production are embodied in concept "intellectualcapital". The managers managing companies cost are almost single in the opinion concerning the name of thisphenomenon, its content, and also that modern accounting can’t consider these new assets (employeescompetence, customers relations, computer and administrative systems, databases, etc.) 14. Some researcherseven state that for intellectual capital accounting it is required new financial and administrative concept15 .Financiers discuss whether it is necessary to change traditional accounting terms (non-material assets, businessstanding), and also about possibility of cost evaluation of a new indicator, its accounting and showing in thereporting.Three Major Elements of Intellectual Capital Various models and theories of intellectual capital represent generalization of value factors managementpractice in the specific companies, and now it is admitted by both researchers and experts. For this reason eachmodel is unique and reflects specificity of the company. At the same time, accumulating of experience andknowledge of an intellectual capital by the beginning of current decade has allowed to determine generalapproaches, to develop more or less single structure of companies’ knowledge assets. Almost all this problemresearchers and managers allocate three components of intellectual capital: 1) human capital (HC); 2) structural, or organizational, capital (SC); 3) customer capital (CC).14 Richard Petty, James Guthrie. Intellectual Capital Literature Review. Measurement, reporting and management. Journal ofIntellectual Capital. Vol. 1, Number 2, 2000, pp. 155—76.15 Dzinkowski, R. The measurement and management of intellectual capital. Management Accounting (UK), Vol. 78, Number 2, p. 32-6.
  15. 15. In some models16, the client capital is called the capital of relations, or connections (relational capital),but it is understood also as loyalty and customer satisfaction. Generally speaking, it is possible to estimate the human capital volume through the number ofintellectual workers and the amount of information, knowledge and skills which they own, through the quantityof leaders, idea men, "revolutionaries". The value of personnel knowledge and abilities is characterized byspecialists capability to solve difficult, non-standard, unexpected problems; employees independence andtrainability; the capability of managers to deal with transformations; creative activity; tendency to partnerinteraction; etc. We can estimate development of the human capital through proportion of the types of activity"inspiring" on search of new solutions forcing companys employees to learn something new. At last, degree ofhuman capital binding is estimated through personnel adherence to companys insight and values, employeessatisfaction by work and industrial relations, personnel loyalty to the company and retention of leading workers,companys reputation on the labor market, etc. (Later in the work, the Human Resources will be discussed moreinto details.) Organization structural capital is reflected by the number and quality of business partners; degree ofbusiness partner retention to the enterprise; integration of the value chain and an companys role in it;availability of a flexible and effective business network (on a global scale, as well); information system quality;early detection system quality; involving of pressure groups into decision making; procedures of transformationof implicit knowledge into explicit one; partnership level in the organization; quality of network interaction;completeness and quality of databases; trademarks and patents; codified knowledge of technical processes (thedegree of completeness and clearness of documentation reflecting consumer value creation in the organization);collection of prototypes for economic problem solution; intellectual property; backlogs on new products;corporate culture market orientation; territorial arrangement advantages; unique technical libraries anddatabases, customer databases; logistic, sales, advertising, cartel contracts; overcome starting difficulties;licenses. The organization customer capital is reflected, by the following characteristics: expected discountedincome from available consumers; number of regular companys customers, their share in sales amounts,average cooperation experience; customer growth quality and prospects; customers satisfaction; companys"ownership" of the industry standard; competitive advantage with new production launch; the volume of theconcluded contracts; the degree of customer retention to the organization. So, it is possible to tell that in the provided models there is more common than distinctions. Theoverwhelming majority of authors recognize presence of intellectual capital independent elements – human,organizational, client, however they are called. At the same time, now there are a lot of terms anyhow connectedwith intangible assets: brand, business standing (goodwill), intellectual property, non-material assets, expenseson researches and developments. What is relation of these terms with concept of an intellectual capital? It is notquite obvious why the general name "intellectual capital" is used to combine such essentially different andfrequently not having the direct relation to the intelligence phenomenon as employees value system, enterpriseimage, brands, customers loyalty. In our opinion, the uniting basis here can be the idea of intellectual capitalcirculation: employees knowledge and capabilities are embodied in organizational processes and relationshipwith business partners that, in turn, create the base for steady relations with customers; cooperation withcustomers and partners leads to experience accumulating, development of enterprise employees knowledge andcapabilities.16 Sanchez P., Chaminade C., Olea M.. Management of intangibles - An attempt to build a theory. Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol.1, Number 4, pp. 312—327.
  16. 16. Ordering and systematization of existing terminology becomes pressing question on which, in particular,the method of intangible assets reporting, accepted and recognized by the accounting organizations will depend.
  17. 17. About the author Present article is a part of Doctorate Thesis written by Dr. Kretov Kirill (Master of Arts in Human Resource Management and Doctor of Business Administration) December 2009, Geneva, Switzerland. The author invites everyone to participate in his ongoing survey on the site http://www.kretov.ch

×