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Saturday, August 6, 2011

The cartographic analogy to accounting.

Accounting is often critiqued as being inexact, outdated and not detailed enough(wrt non financial data)/too detailed(wrt financial instruments). No smoke exists without fire, so there's an element of truth in this. But if one understands accounting as a 'map' of the underlying terrain 'operations', then things begin to fall in place. There are many parallels between the two

What Map Accounting
Purpose Understand terrain without visiting it Understand company as an outsider
Detail Depending on the 'scale' Depending on materiality level
Other info travelelogues/lonely planet non financial disclosures
Assurance Reasonable-because these are often not updated often plus on ground situation may vary Reasonable-because 100% check never possible
Skills needed Art and Science Art and Science
Language Symbols/colours Accounting Standards

This list is not exhaustive but good enough. So those of you who have referred an atlas and then subsequently visited that place, would get an idea of how the financial statements(map) may vary from reality(ground!)

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