Mayowa AKINBOTE

About Mayowa AKINBOTE

Mayowa Akinbote is a Lecturer at Staffordshire University. A qualified chartered accountant with proven accounting knowledge and a strong financial background. My research interest includes Financial Market, Financial Risk Management, Accounting, Business and Enterprise.

Which to use: Quick Ratio or Current Ratio for Liquidity Measurement in business

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Mayowa AKINBOTE

Just as businesses are adapting to the shock of Brexit, the global pandemic presents another disruption to businesses. These two events have created huge uncertainty for most small businesses while some have benefited . The striving small businesses are revaluating their strengths with financial metrics to enhance their sustainability as the new markets are emerging. Financial metrics present small businesses with the opportunities to increase efficiency in their operations, liquidity, profitability and stability during uncertainty period. Some commentators argue that inadequate liquidity is the major reason small businesses collapse during the uncertainty period.

The quick ratio helps the business managers to evaluate their businesses financial liquidity. This informs the business managers of how current assets excluding inventories can be quickly converted to cash to meet their current liabilities. This ignores inventory because it is not easily converted to cash. Unlike the current ratio which considers inventory value, the quick ratio is generally viewed as the conservative evaluation of business liquidity as it’s based on the business most liquid assets. For instance, a business has current assets worth £40,000 of which inventory is £10,000, and £15,000 worth of current liabilities thus the business has a 2:1 quick ratio. This indicates that the business can afford to meet the short-term liabilities twice with the short-term assets.

Money

Businesses with a 1:1 or lower quick ratio could be at risk of becoming a going concern. Thus, small businesses with limited access to funds might fire sale their non-current assets to meet the current liabilities.

Many businesses have already closed due to Brexit and the global pandemic and it has been estimated that a further approximately, 98,000 small businesses might not survive the current pandemic. Thus, small business managers that are currently struggling to survive should pay attention to their financial metrics especially the quick ratio.

Unlike the quick ratio, many commentators argue that the current ratio cannot accurately evaluate some businesses short-term liquidity power. For instance, a retail business that targets seasonal customers will stock up inventory for the season. Thus, toward this period the current ratio rises and fall after the seasonal sales. Hence, the quick ratio would be best to evaluation the liquidity ability of such businesses as it ignores the inventory value.

However, other commentators argue that excluding the inventory value from the current assets could be an inefficient way of evaluating liquidity ability for some businesses. For instance, small business such as corner shops that a large percentage of their current assets are fast-moving inventory. Thus, excluding the inventory from the current asset would relatively inflate the current liability. Hence, the quick ratio will present an inaccurate picture of the business to cover their current liability with their most liquid assets.

In conclusion, business managers need to consider both the quick ratio and current ratio, especially during the uncertainty period. This would provide a more accurate measurement of their business ability to pay their short-term liabilities without being forced to fire sale their non-current asset.

Business managers need to ensure that the quick ratio and current ratio is not too excessive compared to other competitors in their sector as this could indicate poor control of working capital. This might suggest that the business is not turning over its inventory quickly enough or is carrying slow-moving or obsolete inventory and has poor credit control practices resulting in their customers delaying payments beyond the agreed terms.

STOP PRESS: We are now recruiting for cohort 5 of the Small Business Leadership Programme (free starts 30th March).

Mayowa Akinbote FCCA
Lecturer in Accounting and Finance
Staffordshire Business School
Staff Page: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/people/mayowa-akinbote
LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/mayowa-akinbote-33448895

Coronavirus: The Battle Axe

The coronavirus started in China and spread to Europe and America in the first quarter of 2020 with a “battle axe” on businesses. The leadership of the most affected countries have become Santa Claus with their supports to the households and businesses. Many industries have experienced the offensive side of the coronavirus battle axe while other industries benefited from the defensive opportunities it created.

Industries such as Aviation, Road haulage, Ferries, Steel, Horticulture have all taken the pain of the offensive side of the battle axe. For instance, many of the affected developed countries economies are shut down and consumers are under stay at home policy. These have serious negative impacts on these industries revenue and sustainability investments. To complicate the pain emergency loans support from financial institutions have dried up thus, there are fewer chances of survival without taxpayers interventions. Some commentators are of the view that greener pastures are not guaranteed for the industries that will survive the pain as the new world of doing business will emerge. 

The likes of the e-commerce marketplace (Amazon); pharmaceutical companies (AstraZeneca and Pfizer); video conferencing (Zoom, Teams and Skype) and entertainment streaming (Netflix) industries benefit from the defence of this deadly axe. The longer the stay at home policy takes more people and businesses start thinking of a different way to sustain their livelihood and businesses from home. Another innovative business opportunity created is the products that many governments make mandatory to be worn everywhere. Although some of these products are reusable, few concerns have been raised about the materials used in the production and the ability to recycle these materials.

This pandemic has brought difficult business operating environment. Many business leaders are worried about how to sustain productivity to increase growth by adapting to the new business environment that the pandemic created. Businesses should protect the workforce with physical and emotional support, empathetic communication, training and retraining of employees in readiness for recovery. They should review their supply chains and possibly arrange alternative sources of raw materials or services. Also, businesses should frequently review the impact of the worst-case situation on the business cash flow and the governments’ tax relief provisions and other supports. Finally, business leaders should consider their business digital transformations by increasing IT infrastructure and digital upskilling.

The Small Business Leadership Programme is provided by Staffordshire Business School and is fully funded (free). Participants will develop strategic leadership skills and the confidence to boost business performance.

The course lasts ten weeks and the next two cohort start dates are
West Midlands 12th January 3.00 – 4.30 pm
North West 13th January 3.00 – 4.30 pm

Register here https://smallbusinesscharter.org/sblp-registration

For more details see the website
https://smallbusinesscharter.org/small-business-leadership-programme/

Mayowa Akinbote FCCA
Lecturer in Accounting and Finance
Staffordshire Business School
Staff Page: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/people/mayowa-akinbote
LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/mayowa-akinbote-33448895

Tax Avoidance and Competitive Advantage

Mayowa Akinbote, Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


Apple Inc. (Apple) is a well-known technology company for designing, manufacturing and selling smartphones, tablets, computers and other digitals accessories. Apple has been the world most valuable brand in 2020 with revenue of $267.7 billion (£203.3 billion) and profit of $57.2 billion (£43.4 billion) and the largest public organisation in the United State of America (US) in 2018.

Image Source: Apple Facebook Profile


In 2016, the European Commission found Apple guilty of paying the below 1% effective tax rate to the Irish government in 2003 and that Apple was given preferential tax treatment. This tax advantage was declared illegal and the commission rule that of £12.7 billion in taxes and interest should be paid to Irish government coffers. This amount is equivalent to the Irish National Health budget.
Recently, Apple becomes the most valued traded corporation in the world, valued at £1.7 trillion bigger than £1.5 trillion value of all the FTSE 100 the UK top companies. While Amazon and Google followed Apple as the most valued traded corporations in the US. Some commentators suggest that such sudden growth in value could be aided by tax avoidance deals thus such could create competitive advantages over their competitors.

Tax Avoidance

Tax avoidance is legally bending of the tax rules to gain an undue tax advantage that the rules never intended and creating tax loopholes. Transfer pricing is the biggest enabler of tax avoidance. Big companies like Apple design, manufacture, test, hold patent rights and marketing rights of their products in different countries. This gives opportunities to allocate high costs discretionarily to the country that offers low tax advantage like Ireland thus, profit is channel across borders. The annual global tax avoidance is equivalent to the entire Belgium Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with British overseas territories such as British Virgin Island, Bermuda, Cayman Island followed by Netherland, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Ireland in Europe topping the list of tax avoidance enablers.

Similar to the other multinational companies such as Starbucks, Google, Amazon and Facebook, Apple legally channels 90% all its global profits to through Luxembourg and Ireland before profits were channelled to non-Irish residence subsidiaries to avoid paying taxes. This is not unknown, but the Irish government accept the deal in return for the inward investments and jobs creation. Besides Ireland pride herself as one of the countries with the lowest corporation tax rates in Europe at 12.5%.

In the UK airline companies like tax exile, Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet benefited from tax avoidance for decades. Avoiding paying taxes into the countries where they generate profits hence, reducing the funds available for the development of the key facilities that could save host community’s livelihood especially during this period of uncertainty such as coronavirus pandemic. Regrettably, these companies are also ripping where they did not sow. For instance, the air industry seeking £7.5 billion in bailout due to coronavirus lockdown. They also took the advantage of the government taxpayer-backed general support during the uncertainty period.

Competitive Advantage

Michael Porter explains four generic strategies which companies could adopt to gain high profits over their competitors such as cost leadership, cost focus, differentiation leadership and differentiation focus.

The first two strategies focused on cost leadership strategies are price-based competition in a targeted market. Companies such as EasyJet and Amazon adopt cost focus and cost leadership using both economies of scale and scope to achieve the lowest cost of production to their advantage thus generating high profits with their strategy. These companies rather paid shareholder(s) than to invest in their workforce or pay taxes to the host countries. For instance, at the start of the pandemic, EasyJet paid £60 million of dividend to Monaco tax resident founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

The other two strategies focused on differentiation strategies which require significant investment in marketing and consistent promotion. Companies such as Virgin Atlantic and Apple adopts differentiation leadership by targeting larger markets and positioning their products quality superiority, global brand loyalty uniqueness to the market. Despite, cost reduction through economies of scale, Virgin Atlantic and Apple continue to charge premium prices on its products and services.

Although, none of the Porters’ generic strategies includes the possibilities of tax avoidance creating competitive advantages. However, some commentators believe that tax avoidance increases the shareholders’ wealth and the companies’ value thus, encouraging investors to increase investments with the hope of increasing their wealth. Furthermore, some observers consider that these extra investments enable such companies to oblige their host countries into offering tax avoidance deals in return for inward investments and jobs creation in their countries.

Mayowa Akinbote FCCA
Lecturer in Accounting and Finance
Staffordshire Business School
Staff Page: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/people/mayowa-akinbote
LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/mayowa-akinbote-33448895

Discover how accounting and finance underpins modern enterprise in our BA (Hons) Finance and Business Enterprise.

BHS Death: Who is to Blame?

Image: The Herald, Scotland https://goo.gl/X59KeM

British Home Store (BHS) was born in 1928 with steady expansion growth and increasing competition with rival stores that bring excitements to the British workforce and customers. In pursuit of survival, BHS has undergone several successful surgical operations in the post-war era such as expansion across the UK, merging and franchising its brand. Many feared that BHS survival chances would diminish in 2000 when Sir Philip Green took charge of the company health affairs, but he dismissed the fears. However, sickness symptoms were confirmed in 2005 when BHS announced its losing customers to rivals. After several attempts to revive BHS, the health continued to deteriorate. This continued until 2015 when it was transferred to Dominic Chappell, unfortunately for BHS its health has gone beyond resuscitation. In 2016, the once healthy and competitive BHS was in coma without a chance of survival.

Losers

Although all BHS stakeholders were disappointed in the news of its death, this has different implications for different stakeholders. During its heyday, BHS had 163 stores, 11,000 British workforce that comprised direct and indirect staff, servicing 22,000 pensioners, tax-payer, and 1.2m British loyal customers. These were the biggest losers as the death of BHS significantly changed their way of life and in some cases, it threatened their survival as well.

Image: Drapers, https://goo.gl/vDGG41

Companies Act 2006

The Companies Act 2006 s830 specifies that companies should only distribute a dividend to the shareholders from the profit available or accumulated profits. This profit should be after deducting its accumulation losses. Also, Companies Act 2006 s172 specifies the duties of company’s directors to act in good faith with the aim of promoting the company’s success for all its members. In the case of BHS, members include all the stakeholders such as employees, pensioners, customers, suppliers, creditors, government, UK taxpayers, and shareholders.

Many commentators argued that Sir Philip Green and his family members along with other shareholders did not regard corporate governance or Companies Act 2006; and they made decisions on the BHS activities in their personal interest to the detriment of the other BHS members. Other commentators believed that The Green family and other shareholders enjoyed unfettered access in the heart of BHS; that was cleverly done with a complex company structure and inter-company transactions that include £422m dividend pay-out against £208m profit, £10m loan interest, £151m rent received from sales and lease-back, £250m management charges and £3m ground rent, all received from BHS. As a result, between 2000 and 2015, the pension fund has fallen from £5m surplus to 571m deficits and BHS survival and going concern was set on a slope.

Structure of Taveta Group (Controlled by the Green Family): Source from HC Committee Reports, https://goo.gl/reA7Er


International Standards on Auditing

The International Standards on Auditing (UK) specifies that the objective of the audit work on the financial statement is to give reasonable assurance. This assurance should be included in the auditor’s report to highlight whether the financial statement is free of error or fraud. Although, it is not a guarantee that material misstatement due to error and fraud will always be detected when audit work complies with ISA (UK). However, the ISA (UK) requires that auditor should exercise professional judgment in identifying and assessing the material risks in the financial statements. Auditors are required to design and perform audit procedures that are responsive to material risks, and to obtain appropriate, and sufficient evidence regarding the business activities from audit procedures upon which audit opinion will be formed. In this regard, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) audit design and procedures failed to detect or raise going concern issue during 2015 audit when BHS was sold for £1.

PwC Leeds firm audited BHS Group Ltd financial accounts for the 74 weeks to 29 August 2009 and since then they continued to audit BHS financial account till 2015. They are also the auditing firm for other Green Family companies such as Taveta Investment Limited and Taveta Investment (No.2) Limited, the parent companies of BHS. Commentators believe that this could have created threats to their objectivity due to possible close or personal relationship with the Green family and non-audit fee (audit fee ratio of up to 8:1). These threats include familiarity, intimidation, and self-interest as the audit firm and senior partner may not be necessarily sceptical and may be sympathetic towards the directors and employee with whom they have a relationship.

Image: Accountancy Age, https://goo.gl/ZVN1Yu

On the 13 June 2018, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) halted the over 30 years career of Steve Denison a senior partner with a 15-year ban and £325,000 fine. PwC accounting firm was fined £6.5m and FRC will be monitoring their practice over the next three years.

Blame

In my opinion, the directors of BHS acted unethically and with total disregard for the Companies Act 2006 and corporate governance in discharging their duties between 2000 and 2015. Considering the consequences of their actions, the innocent pensioners, direct and indirect employees and taxpayers will pick up the bill for the BHS pension deficit. It is unfortunate that those directors got away with just over £363m fines without a ban from serving as company directors in the future or possibly jail terms.

However, as much I would like to agree with  PwC that their failure could not have contributed to BHS death, from a professional viewpoint, they have the duty not only to advise the BHS board of directors, but the 2015 Audit Report should have explicitly raised going concern issues. This would have raised other stakeholder’s awareness as the Audit Report would have been available to the public through Company House.

Mayowa Akinbote ACCA, MA, PGCHP, FHEA, BSc.                                                Lecturer in Accounting and Finance                                                                        Staffordshire Business School

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