Description: Rob Carrick, the Globe and Mail’s personal finance columnist, has helped a lot of Canadians improve their financial literacy. In a recent column, he answered a question from a grandmother wanting to know what personal finance book to purchase for her grandson. Carrick’s answer: David Chilton’s The Wealthy Barber. The book is almost thirty years old, but it is known for its straight-forward discussion of financial matters with a story-teller’s flair.
Date: October 11, 2018
1) Have you ever read The Wealthy Barber? If so, what lesson stuck with you the most?
2) Think back to when you were 15 years old. How would you have reacted to a gift of The Wealthy Barber?
3) In what way has studying introductory accounting via Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making helped you with your own financial decisions and in thinking about your future career?
Description: It’s one list a company does not want to lead. But Nestlé Pure Life, Tim Horton’s, McDonalds, Starbucks and Coca-Cola are the top five identified brands in Greenpeace’s annual trash identification exercise on Canada’s beaches. Greenpeace gathered trash items on September 15, World Cleanup Day, on four separate beaches in various parts of Canada. The fact that much of the trash was recyclable indicates that there seems to be a flaw in the system. Making something recyclable does not keep it out of the ocean.
Date: October 10, 2018
1) How would you recommend we keep garbage out of our oceans?
2) If you were an executive at one of the five companies on the list, how would handle questions from the media on this matter?
3) Wiley’s Auditing: A Practical Approach discusses something called a Corporate Social Responsibility Audit. How would this form of audit help a company address the concerns raised by the Greenpeace survey?
Description: A report this week in the Toronto Star discussed the disturbing findings of a survey showing that principals don’t have time to dedicate to improving education. It appears that too much time is eaten up by the day-to-day management of buildings and other administrative tasks. According to the Star, Annie Kidder of the group People for Education said “One would hope that principals would say the task on which they spend the most time would be leading the instructional program, and it is not that.”
Date: October 3, 2018
1) Think back to your days of public school. Was the school principal involved on the education side?
2) Why do you think principals are reporting these results? What are the causes?
3) Part of the training as accountants is in the area of performance measurement. Using the information in Wiley’s Managerial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, chapter 12, think about how you might develop a balanced scorecard for a public school, one that could help deal with the problems discussed in the article.
Description: Last week this blog featured a story on how Blackberry had turned a profit by transforming itself from a handset company to a software vendor with a valuable automobile industry component. This week, the Washington Post featured a story on how Toys R Us – a company that had shuttered its US retail operations – may not be down for the count. The plan: the hedge fund that owns Toys R Us is examining the possibility of restructuring as a branding company.
Date: October 3, 2018
1) Toys R Us still operates traditional bricks and mortar stores in Canada. Were you aware that the US version had been shut down?
2) Do you think the move to create a branding company has potential?
3) The article notes that the owners have kept the names Toys R Us, Babies R Us, and the company mascot. What category might these assets be classified as on the balance sheet? Hint: see chapter 10 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making.
Description: It’s controversial. But in a 7-2 vote Moncton city council voted to provide $100,000 of taxpayers’ money to an upcoming UFC card in the city’s new entertainment complex. The use of public money on a sporting event is drawing lots of media attention. Those that voted for the move relied on staff reports talking about the economic benefits of such an event.
Date: October 3, 2018
1) What do you think of a city government subsidizing an event like this?
2) If you were an accountant providing advice to the city council, how might you go about calculating the costs and benefits of such funding?
3) Where can you read about accounting for municipal governments in Wiley’s Advanced Accounting?
Description: After years of being on death watch, Blackberry is turning things around. Financial results for the latest quarters showed a profit of over $40 million U.S. These days the company is making its money in software and its fast-growing automotive division. Hiring is up and the company is looking for 1,000 or so engineers.
Date: September 28, 2018
1) Were you aware that Blackberry was now profitable? What strategic decisions have helped turn things around?
2) Why do you think Blackberry is reporting its results in U.S. dollars?
3) Where can you find an excerpt from Blackberry’s financial statement in Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making?
Description: He works for the Parliament of Canada. But that did not stop the newly-appointed Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), Yves Giroux, from criticizing provincial governments in his first report. While the federal government’s finances are sustainable, Mr. Giroux told a news conference that “it’s a totally different story for provinces and territories.”
Date: September 27 , 2018
1) What is the job of the Parliamentary Budget Officer?
2) How does the job of the Parliamentary Budget Officer contrast with that of the Auditor General?
3) What are the key measures of provincial finances as per the Wiley’s Advanced Accounting?
Description: it was Election Day in New Brunswick Monday. And along with all the confusing election results, NB Liquor, the provincial Crown corporation that sells alcoholic products, made the news by raising beer prices for a few hours that same day – then lowering them when someone caught on.The price of some popular 24 packs shot up to $37.99 from $35.99, before dropping later in the afternoon. NB Liquor told CBC “that September 24th was not the appropriate day to do a general beer price adjustment,” No kidding!
Date: September 26, 2018
1) What do you think of the beer price up and down story?
2) Do you think we should still have government ownership of retail liquor sales outlets or should all provinces adopt a private sector model?
3) When you raise the price of a big seller like beer, you have to be concerned that it may impact sales volume. Where can you read about cost-volume-profit analysis in Wiley’s Managerial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making?
Description: The Globe and Mail is saying New Brunswick is in a ‘death spiral’ financially. The problem is that the tiny province is in the last stages of an election campaign and none of the political leaders really seems to be seriously engaging the issue. In the past ten years, New Brunswick has basically doubled its debt load, and this at a time of demographic decline. Perhaps if the politicians don’t get serious about the matter, the province may have an unpleasant visit from its bankers who may insert themselves into the budgeting process; this happened at least twice in the previous century.
Date: September 17 , 2018
1) Have you ever voted in an election? What sorts of factors influenced your choice?
2) Why do you think politicians are so reluctant to deal with fiscal reality during election campaigns?
3) Many of you are planning a careers as accountants. How do you think the profession can encourage better discussion of the government debt issue?
Description: It all comes down to the numbers. Supporters of Calgary’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics are quoting optimistic figures showing that $5 billion plus in costs for the Games will produce 5 times the benefits in economic impacts. On the other side are skeptics claiming the games will leave the three levels of government responsible for over $3 billion in costs. Moshe Lander of Concordia University notes that in this crunching of numbers he has not seen any figures comparing the planned spending on the Olympics to spending on other alternatives.
Date: September 16 , 2018
1) Were you aware of this initiative by Calgary? Would you like to see the 2026 Olympics return to Calgary?
2) Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making, talks about the objective of financial reporting to provide useful information to decision makers (see page 73). Who would be the financial statement users for a financial statement of an Olympic Games?
3) Search the website of the Auditor General of British Columbia and see if you can find any audits of the cost for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.