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Accounting Words

Attribute

The quantifiable characteristic of an item that is measured for accounting purposes. For example, historical cost and current cost are attributes of an asset. See FASB Statement No. 52, available on the FASB’s website(standards page) 

Asset

Probable future economic benefits obtained or controlled by a particular entity as a result of past transactions or events.  See FASB Concepts Statement No. 6, available on the FASB’s website(standards page) 

Conversion

The exchange of one currency for another. See FASB Statement No. 52, available on the FASB’s website (standards page) 

Current Exchange Rate

The current exchange rate is the rate at which one unit of a currency can be exchanged for(converted into) another currency. For purposes of translation of financial statements referred to in this Statement, the current exchange rate is the rate as of the end of the period covered by the financial statements or as of the dates of recognition in those statements in the case of revenues, expenses, gains, and losses. The requirements for applying the current exchange rate for translating financial statements are set forth in paragraph 12. Further information regarding exchange rates is provided in paragraphs 26-28.

Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)

Recognized by the Securities and Exchange Commission (who has statutory authority to set accounting standards) as the primary accounting standard setter in the United States. For further information, check out the FASB’s website.

Private Accounting

Practicing accounting within a single entity, such as a corporation, not-for-profit organization or government agency.  Differs from Public Accounting (see below) in that you work for a single employer.  Typical jobs within private accounting include Controller, Director of Financial Reporting, Staff Accountant, cost accountant, etc… 

Public Accounting

Practicing accounting in a public accounting firm that provides accounting and related services to a wide variety of client entities and/or individuals (more like a law firm vs. working for a corporation).  Typically, public accountants are licensed by their respective state accounting boards and hold themselves out as CPAs.

Securities and Exchange Commission

Primary securities regulator in the United States with broad authority over the securities industry, including regulating: securities exchanges, brokers, dealers, issuers, mutual funds and investment advisers.  Established by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to protect investors and ensure the integrity of U.S. capital markets.  Comprised of five commissioners appointed by the President (consent of Senate).  For further information, check out the SEC’s website (about section).

Securities Act of 1933

One of the primary securities laws in the United States passed by Congress in the wake of the market crash of 1929 and other fraud within the capital markets.  Among other things, the Securities Act requires, with limited exceptions or exemptions, registration of all securities offered to the public. Registration includes providing potential investors with financial and other information about the issuers’ financial condition and operations. A copy of the Securities Act of 1933 is available via the Securities and Exchanges’ website, here. 

Securities Exchange Act of 1934

One of the primary securities laws in the United States passed by Congress in the wake of the market crash of 1929 and other fraud within the capital markets.  The Act created the Securities and Exchange Commission, the primary securities and capital market regulator within the United States. The Act also prohibits certain types of conduct including, deceit, misrepresentation and insider trading. The Act also empowers the Securities and Exchange Commission to require certain periodic information from issuers, including financial and non-financial information. A copy of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 is available via the Securities and Exchanges’ website, here.

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