IA’s, Beyond Conventional Financial Statements and Balance Sheets

Michael D. Moberly   January 27, 2016   ‘A business blog where attention span really matters’!

What I wish to draw reader attention to in this post are conventional financial statements and balance sheets. Both documents are the presumptive ‘Holy Grail’ for identifying – projecting organizational performance, value, growth, and sustainability, etc. But, seldom, if ever, does either (largely regulatory) document, report IA’s (intangible assets) which are internally originated – developed. Instead ‘conventional’ financial statements and balance sheets report only externally acquired IA’s, leaving internally developed IA’s indistinguishably combined – lumped together as mere goodwill.

My experience suggests, in many instances, conventional balance sheets and financial statements  serve to moderate, if not stifle, management team  curiosity – motivation to engage their organization’s IA’s and/or mischaracterize activities related to identifying, unraveling, assessing, and valuing them as pointless undertakings, even though doing so will assuredly develop lucrative – competitive paths of value, revenue, competitiveness, resilience, and sustainability.

As an illustration of this, readers are asked to consider buy-sell transactions for a public radio station, wherein convention would emphasize – draw attention to assets which have more tangible features and outputs, i.e.,

  • numbers – size of a.m. – p.m. listening audience.
  • competing radio stations in the same market space.
  • height of transmission tower and strength of transmitter signal, etc.

Obviously, buy-sell transaction due diligence will reveal some-all of the above and competitively positioned and lucratively exploited, individually – collectively will be desirable assets. However, for this IA strategist these represent tangible-lite types of assets and would be a secondary focus of due diligence I would execute in the same circumstance.

Instead, I would focus more attention on the contributory role – value, competitive position, and measurable impact delivered by a station’s internally originated – developed IA’s relative to its communities of listeners, contributors, donors, and sponsors, along with assessing each IA for its stability, fragility, materiality, and defensibility.

In fairness, conventional financial statements, balance sheets, and asset valuation methodologies were generally not designed (intended) to capture the intangible, i.e., what we factually now know to be the most relevant strategic markers for gauging an organization’s financial health, competitiveness, and performance. To be sure, absent operational familiarity – insight about IA’s contributory roles and value, organizations are significantly less likely to achieve a comprehensive or necessarily accurate portrait of their financial and competitive position.

For these reasons, I encourage readers to recall…it really is an economic fact that 80+% of most organizations value, revenue, and competitiveness, derive from IA’s. If you are a buyer or seller of an IA intensive – dependant organization would it not be prudent to have this (due diligence) knowledge in advance?

Mr. Moberly is an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist and author of ‘Safeguarding Intangible Assets’ published by Elsevier in 2014, [email protected] View Mr. Moberly’s videos on YouTube at ‘safeguarding intangible assets’ or his CNN and CNBC videos at his webpage https://kpstrat.com

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