Accounting, like life

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GINA S. DETERA

Accounting, like life, should be balanced all the time. The debits and the credits should always be equal. You can try to force-balance it, but to do this, an error or even fraud maybe committed. Let us try to ponder on this not-too-technical topic today.

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Consider each day as a blessing. This will always be true for me as an auditor/accountant. How can life not be challenging for me, who would always feel responsible for growth of the people in my team, and to be on top of my audit engagements? My default prayer, too, is that nothing goes wrong in the work that I am doing or have completed. And after a day’s work, this is so important to me –to still be a cool mommy and wife at home.

How do we really balance everything in life when each day is full of challenges? How many times have I received comments to try managing stress and keeping my cool in the office to help me be more effective? I guess you can never be an expert on dealing with stress, but yes, we can all do something about it.

Here’s a piece of wisdom that I got from my husband: listen to comments. You will not be able to please everyone, but listen, as there is some truth or wisdom in those comments. Take that wisdom and try to address and make improvements on a given situation. I am just hoping I am successful in processing that wisdom, at least most of the time.

What is that balanced life that everyone desires? They say that work-life balance is no longer true today. Now, we call it work-life choice – you make your choices and you choose to be content and happy with the amount and quality of time you spend in the office and outside. But no one should be guilty of using this excuse of quality time versus the amount of time, particularly with our kids. Quality time works, but sometimes more time is required, particularly if our kids are growing up and are starting to ask questions that may be complicated to answer or process. We need more time to help them solve their complicated math or physics problems, bring them to training sessions, and again, watch their games and performances.

It is a work-life choice. Everyday, you hope that you will be cleared of your responsibilities in the office once you’re done with work. Honestly, on few occasions, I would control myself from analyzing too much, from finding logic in everything and from bringing home office matters. My husband, Jim, can very well relate to this discussion.

That is life – and my accountant’s mind can say that there is an art of handling this life. I can relate to the logic of accounting, which says that there will always be two sides to every story – the debit and the credit, the one you gave up and the one you received in consideration of what has been given up. The debits and the credits will be summarized and the result will be your financial statements at the end of the reporting period. The financial statements will tell a story – your financial position – how much your assets are worth, liabilities and net worth/equity (total assets minus total liabilities). What are the financial results of your operations – did you make a profit? And your cash flows – how did you spend the money? Did you gain cash from your operations? Or did you finance your operations through loans? Did you invest some of your cash?

Let us apply this in our daily life, and I hope you can all relate to this. What is your status then, if you apply this accounting logic? How much have you given up and how much did you gain in the end? Is your net worth (including those that cannot be measured – relationships could be one of them) in a positive position? Negative position– more liabilities – can bring sadness (like unfulfilled promises to your kids and the time you missed spending with your parents/siblings can be liabilities that will decrease your net worth). But as in accounting, the past can be improved, and this should be documented in a clear management plan. That should be a plan that can work and can provide evidence that things can be improved. In accounting, that plan should show that the future can bring more cash flows and profits for the company.

Planning to improve should not take long. The longer one takes to improve profitability and cash flows, the higher the doubt that the company can recover. Your credibility to make things work, and to make plans that will materialize can be compromised, too. There are risks involved, and sometimes risks translate to more financial problems. While the market has solutions to these risks, they are sometimes complex and, therefore, accounting can be complicated. And discussions about plans that will work – plans that are meant to improve things – are so true in life.

Are you all convinced now that we can talk about life and make accounting easy for you to process? You may try checking your net worth now. Try to do accounting and make a list, with two columns (the right and the left). Take inventory of all your assets (material and non-material things) on the left and then the liabilities on the right. Total assets minus total liabilities = your net worth. Is it positive, zero, or negative? Whatever the result is, we can all agree that there is still time, and definitely more time to bring the negative or zero to above zero and improve that net worth. Each one’s life is unique and I hope that at the end of the day you can still conclude that this life is a blessing and is so worth living!

Gina S. Detera is an assurance partner, corporate responsibility leader and ethics leader of Isla Lipana & Co./PwC Philippines. Email your comments and questions to markets@ph.pwc.com. This content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as substitute for consultation with professional advisors.

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