Description: An opinion piece in the Globe and Mail this past week offered that cutting student debt may be an excellent policy alternative for generating entrepreneurship in Canada. Over the past few decades, government support for higher education has declined. Combine this with higher tuition and it means students are graduating with higher debt loads. It’s difficult to start a business after graduation if you’re burdened with student debt.
Date: November 4, 2020
1) Are you going to be carrying a student loan when you graduate? How will it impact your decisions?
2) What do you think? Will addressing student debt promote entrepreneurship and economic growth?
3) The story of True Buch Kombucha featured in the opening of Chapter Three in Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making discusses the entrepreneurial adventures of Conrad and Louisa Ferrel. What is one important lesson future entrepreneurs can learn from these experiences?
Description: I guess those robots can’t really replace all the humans after all! Walmart has decided to fire its inventory robots. Real, live human beings can gather information on inventory as they stock items in the stores, allowing them to do at least as good of a job as the mechanical workers. Walmart’s CEO wondered as well what customers might think about encountering robots in the stores.
Date: November 3, 2020
1) Have you ever had to work with a robot or run into one while shopping in a store?
2) What is one of the big lessons we can learn from this decision by Walmart?
3) The “Accounting Matters” text box on page 6-5 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, discusses another technological innovation Walmart has made with inventory management. What is this innovation? What does it do?
Description: A paint store where the owner gets in trouble for taking a day off. A fitness equipment company with sales booming rather than tanking. A gym owner switching to online training. These – and four more – are stories of Canadian business owners dealing with Covid challenges since March. The seven were profiled by CBC in a recent post, and their accounts are providing a variety of lessons in commerce.
Date: October 31, 2020
1) Which of these stories was your favourite? Why?
2) What is one of the big lessons you can learn from how these business owners dealt with unexpected challenges?
3) The story talks about the Vittorio Oliverio and his mortgage brokerage business, Centum Professional Mortgage Group. What competitive advantage does Centum appear to have over some of the large Canadian banks – like Scotiabank and RBC – featured in Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making?
Description: Dalhousie University professor Sylvain Charlebois argues its time that the big Canadian grocery chains sign-on to an industry code of conduct. He offers this opinion in the light of a move by all the big grocers except Sobeys to place new fees on their suppliers who want access to their store shelves. Charlebois goes so far as to call these fees “bully tactics,” and he sees them as weakening food manufacturers and pushing the independent grocery stores onto the survival list.
Date: October 29, 2020
1) Were you aware about these fees charged to suppliers by the big grocery chains?
2) If you were an accountant at one of these suppliers, how would you advise your employer to respond to this latest move?
3) In chapter one of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, we read about the importance of high standards of ethical behaviour for accountants. Do you think this decision to charge these fees is ethical?
Description: TD Bank is putting smiles on the faces of many of its employees with the news that 90,000 or so of them will be receiving a $500 bonus. This reward is to thank the employees for their extra efforts during the pandemic. TD’s CEO said “I am incredibly proud of your efforts to support our customers, communities and each other under the most trying circumstances.”
Date: October 30, 2020
1) How do you think you would feel if you received this bonus?
2) If you are planning a career as an accountant, does the banking industry interest you?
3) On page 2-32 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, you can read question 20, comparing the price-earnings ratios of TD Bank and CIBC. Answer the question regarding the company that investors seem to favour. Look up current data for these two banks on the web to see if the situation is still the same.
Description: The federal government might well be asking the question “where are they?” when it comes to large Canadian companies seeking government assistance in this Corona world. In order to assist in the economic troubles associated with the virus, the government created the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) . But so far only about a dozen companies have even bothered to apply, with a minuscule total of two companies having actually received the loans.
Date: October 15, 2020
1) Are you surprised by the low uptake on the LEEFF? Why do you think the participation is so low?
2) If you were an accountant working for this program, what recommendations would you make to help improve the results?
3) The story tells us that Air Canada did not respond to The Star‘s request for a response on this story. On page 4-18 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, we can read about how Air Canada accounts for cash it receives from ticket sales prior to the time of the actual flight. What do you think might be going on with this number on the financial statements during the Covid times?
Description: A painting by artist Jacob Lawrence, apparently missing for the last 60 years, was rediscovered recently on a good hunch from a visitor to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When viewing an exhibit of a series of Lawrence’s paintings, the visitor took note of the empty spots on the wall where the missing paintings from the series would go. Having a hunch that a painting hanging in the home of two friends may well be of the missing pieces, she approached the couple. Now, the painting they purchased for a small sum at a charity auction many years ago has been reunited with the series.
Date: October 21, 2020
1) Does your university campus have an art gallery? When did you last visit it?
2) If you were the elderly couple noted in the story, would you have reunited a painting you purchased legally with the collection? Why or why not?
3) In Chapter 6 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, we learn three approaches to placing a cost on items in inventory. If you were an accountant for an art dealer, which inventory cost formula would you be likely to use? Why?
Description: Last week in this blog there was a story on Apple’s move to reduce waste by no longer shipping a charger block with its new iPhone 12 models. This week Tim Horton’s picked up on the theme by announcing it would no longer double-cup your hot beverage. Don’t panic though; the coffee chain will still give you a cardboard sleeve to protect your hand from the heat of the double-double.
Date: October 21, 2020
1) Are you a Tim Horton’s fan? Is there a Tim’s outlet on your campus?
2) What strategic factors do you think Tim’s looked at in making this decision?
3) On page 9-27 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, you will read about franchises, something that is a key part of Tim Horton’s business model. If you purchased a franchise for a Tim Horton’s, where would you place this asset on your balance sheet? Would you amortize it?
Description: There is no question that Canadian governments are spending borrowed money at a prodigious rate during this pandemic in order to support citizens and keep the economy moving. In an opinion piece in the Toronto Star, Daniel Tsai, a former government advisor who now lectures at Ryerson, says that throwing on a new series of taxes to pay down the debt would not be the way to go. Tsai argues that there is a need for non-partisan government and business experts to develop strategies on how to proceed.
Date: October 9, 2020
1) What increased government spending have you noticed during the pandemic?
2) What stood out to you in reading this article?
3) One of the options for increased government revenues is in increasing sales taxes. Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, discusses how companies account for the collection of sales taxes (see Chapter 10). What are the journal entries to show the collection of sales tax at the time of sale and the later remittance of that tax to the government?
Description: It’s often an exciting time when Apple unveils a new iPhone, and this past week seemed true to form as Tim Cook introduced the iPhone 12. One surprise for some was that Apple is not going to be including any charging adapters or earbuds with the smartphones. With so many chargers and headphones already owned by potential users, Apple saw this move as one to cut electronic waste. The articles does note, however, that this will make a very small contribution to solving the problem.
Date: October 16, 2020
1) Are you an Apple user or not? Why?
2) What do you think of this move by Apple to reduce e-waste?
3) In Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, Chapter 5, we can read how some business sectors are generally “low gross margin” while others are “high gross margin.” In which sector does Apple fall?