Asset

In financial accounting, an asset is any resource owned by the business. Anything tangible or intangible that can be owned or controlled to produce value and that is held by a company to produce positive economic value is an asset. Simply stated, assets represent value of ownership that can be converted into cash (although cash itself is also considered an asset).[1] The balance sheet of a firm records the monetary[2] value of the assets owned by that firm. It covers money and other valuables belonging to an individual or to a business.[1]

One can classify assets into two major asset classes: tangible assets and intangible assets. Tangible assets contain various subclasses, including current assets and fixed assets.[3] Current assets include inventory, while fixed assets include such items as buildings and equipment.[4] Intangible assets are nonphysical resources and rights that have a value to the firm because they give the firm some kind of advantage in the marketplace. Examples of intangible assets include goodwill, copyrights, trademarks, patents and computer programs,[4] and financial assets, including such items as accounts receivable, bonds and stocks.

Formal definition

An asset is a resource controlled by the entity as a result of past events and from which future economic benefits are expected to flow to the entity. It is the result of a past event or transaction.[5]

Characteristics

One of the most widely accepted accounting definitions of asset is the one used by the International Accounting Standards Board.[6] The following is a quotation from the IFRS Framework: "An asset is a resource controlled by the enterprise as a result of past events and from which future economic benefits are expected to flow to the enterprise."[7]

This means that:

  • The probable present benefit involve a capacity, singly or in combination with other assets, in the case of profit oriented enterprises, to contribute directly or indirectly to future net cash flows, and, in the case of nonprofit organizations, to provide services;
  • The entity can control access to the benefit;
  • The transaction or event giving rise to the entity's right to, or control of, the benefit has already occurred.

Employees are not considered assets like machinery is, even though they can generate future economic benefits. This is because an entity does not have sufficient control over its employees to satisfy the Framework's definition of an asset. Resources that are expected to yield benefits only for a short time can also be considered not to be assets, for example in the USA the 12 month rule excludes items with a useful life of less than a year.

Similarly, in economics an asset is any form in which wealth can be held.

There is a growing analytical interest in assets and asset forms in other social sciences too, especially in terms of how a variety of things (e.g. personality, personal data, ecosystems, etc.) can be turned into an asset.[8]

Accounting

In the financial accounting sense of the term, it is not necessary to be able to legally enforce the asset's benefit for qualifying a resource as being an asset, provided the entity can control its use by other means.

The accounting equation is the mathematical structure of the balance sheet. It relates assets, liabilities, and owner's equity:

Assets = Liabilities + Capital (which for a corporation equals owner's equity)
Liabilities = Assets − Capital
Equity = Assets − Liabilities

Assets are listed on the balance sheet. On a company's balance sheet certain divisions are required by generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), which vary from country to country.[9] Assets can be divided into e.g. current assets and fixed assets, often with further subdivisions such as cash, receivables and inventory.

Assets are formally controlled and managed within larger organizations via the use of asset tracking tools. These monitor the purchasing, upgrading, servicing, licensing, disposal etc., of both physical and non-physical assets.

Current assets

Current assets are cash and other assets expected to be converted to cash or consumed either in a year or in the operating cycle (whichever is longer), without disturbing the normal operations of a business. These assets are continually turned over in the course of a business during normal business activity. There are 5 major items included into current assets:

  1. Cash and cash equivalents – it is the most liquid asset, which includes currency, deposit accounts, and negotiable instruments (e.g., money orders, cheque, bank drafts).
  2. Short-term investments – include securities bought and held for sale in the near future to generate income on short-term price differences (trading securities).
  3. Receivables – usually reported as net of allowance for non-collectable accounts.
  4. Inventory – trading these assets is a normal business of a company. The inventory value reported on the balance sheet is usually the historical cost or fair market value, whichever is lower. This is known as the "lower of cost or market" rule.
  5. Prepaid expenses – these are expenses paid in cash and recorded as assets before they are used or consumed (common examples are insurance or office supplies). See also adjusting entries.

Marketable securities: Securities that can be converted into cash quickly at a reasonable price.

The phrase net current assets (also called working capital) is often used and refers to the total of current assets less the total of current liabilities.

Long-term investments

Often referred to simply as "investments". Long-term investments are to be held for many years and are not intended to be disposed of in the near future. This group usually consists of three types of investments:

  1. Investments in securities such as bonds, common stock, or long-term notes.
  2. Investments in fixed assets not used in operations (e.g., land held for sale).
  3. Investments in special funds (e.g. sinking funds or pension funds).

Different forms of insurance may also be treated as long term investments.

Fixed assets

Also referred to as PPE (property, plant, and equipment), these are purchased for continued and long-term use in earning profit in a business. This group includes as an asset land, buildings, machinery, furniture, tools, IT equipment, e.g., laptops, and certain wasting resources e.g., timberland and minerals. They are written off against profits over their anticipated life by charging depreciation expenses (with exception of land assets). Accumulated depreciation is shown in the face of the balance sheet or in the notes. An asset is an important factor in a balance sheet.

These are also called capital assets in management accounting.

Intangible assets

Intangible assets lack of physical substance and usually are very hard to evaluate. They include patents, copyrights, franchises, goodwill, trademarks, trade names, etc. These assets are (according to US GAAP) amortized to expense over 5 to 40 years with the exception of goodwill.

Websites are treated differently in different countries and may fall under either tangible or intangible assets.

Tangible assets

Tangible assets are those that have a physical substance, such as currencies, buildings, real estate, vehicles, inventories, equipment, art collections, precious metals, rare-earth metals, Industrial metals, and crops.

Depreciation is applied to tangible assets when those assets have an anticipated lifespan of more than one year. This process of depreciation is used instead of allocating the entire expense to one year.[10]

Tangible assets such as art, furniture, stamps, gold, wine, toys and books have become recognized as an asset class in their own right[11] and many high-net-worth individuals will seek to include these tangible assets as part of their overall asset portfolio. This has created a need for tangible asset managers.

Comparison: current assets, liquid assets and absolute liquid assets

Current assets Liquid assets Absolute liquid assets
Stocks
Prepaid expenses
Bills receivable Bills receivable
Cash in hand Cash in hand Cash in hand
Cash at bank Cash at bank Cash at bank
Accrued incomes Accrued incomes Accrued incomes
Loans and advances (short term) Loans and advances (short term) Loans and advances (short term)
Trade investments (short term) Trade investments (short term) Trade investments (short term)

See also

References

  1. ^ a b O'Sullivan, Arthur; Sheffrin, Steven M. (2003). Economics: Principles in Action. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. p. 272. ISBN 978-0-13-063085-8.
  2. ^ Siegel, J. G.; Dauber, N.; Shim, J. K. (2005). The Vest Pocket CPA. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0471708759. OCLC 56599007.There are different methods of assessing the monetary value of the assets recorded on the Balance Sheet. In some cases, the Historical Cost is used; such that the value of the asset when it was bought in the past is used as the monetary value. In other instances, the present fair market value of the asset is used to determine the value shown on the balance sheet.
  3. ^ J. Downes, J. E. Goodman, Dictionary of Finance & Investment Terms, Barron's Financial Guides, 2003
  4. ^ a b J. Downes, J. E. Goodman, Dictionary of Finance & Investment Terms, Barron's Financial Guides, 2003; and J. G. Siegel, N. Dauber & J. K. Shim, The Vest Pocket CPA, Wiley, 2005.
  5. ^ IFRS for SMEs. London: IASB (International Accounting Standards Board). 2015. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-409-04813-1.
  6. ^ "IFRS". Iasb.org. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  7. ^ "IFRS" (PDF). Iasb.org. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  8. ^ Birch, Kean (2016-08-10). "Rethinking value in the bio-economy: Finance, assetization and the management of value". Science, Technology, & Human Values. 42 (3): 460–490. doi:10.1177/0162243916661633. PMC 5390941. PMID 28458406.
  9. ^ Intermediate Accounting, Kieso, et. al
  10. ^
  11. ^ Downes, John; Goodman, Jordan Elliot. Finance and Investment Handbook, Sixth Edition, Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 2003.
Asset management

Asset management refers to systematic approach to the governance and realization of value from the things that a group or entity is responsible for, over their whole life cycles. It may apply both to tangible assets (physical objects such as buildings or equipment) and to intangible assets (such as human capital, intellectual property, goodwill and/or financial assets). Asset management is a systematic process of developing, operating, maintaining, upgrading, and disposing of assets in the most cost-effective manner (including all costs, risks and performance attributes).

The term is commonly used in the financial sector to describe people and companies who manage investments on behalf of others. Those include, for example, investment managers that manage the assets of a pension fund.

It is also increasingly used in both the business world and public infrastructure sectors to ensure a coordinated approach to the optimization of costs, risks, service/performance and sustainability.

The International Standard, ISO 55000, provides an introduction and requirements specification for a management system for asset management.

Brookfield Asset Management

Brookfield Asset Management Inc. is an alternative asset management company. It has around $330 billion of assets under management, focusing on real estate, renewable power, infrastructure and private equity. The company's headquarters are located in Toronto, and it also has corporate offices in New York City, London, Rio de Janeiro and Sydney.

Capital asset pricing model

In finance, the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) is a model used to determine a theoretically appropriate required rate of return of an asset, to make decisions about adding assets to a well-diversified portfolio.

Depreciation

In accountancy, depreciation refers to two aspects of the same concept:

The decrease in value of assets (fair value depreciation)

The allocation of the cost of assets to periods in which the assets are used (depreciation with the matching principle)Depreciation is a method of reallocating the cost of a tangible asset over its useful life span of it being in motion. Businesses depreciate long-term assets for both accounting and tax purposes.

The former affects the balance sheet of a business or entity, and the latter affects the net income that they report. Generally the cost is allocated, as depreciation expense, among the periods in which the asset is expected to be used. Methods of computing depreciation, and the periods over which assets are depreciated, may vary between asset types within the same business and may vary for tax purposes. These may be specified by law or accounting standards, which may vary by country. There are several standard methods of computing depreciation expense, including fixed percentage, straight line, and declining balance methods. Depreciation expense generally begins when the asset is placed in service. For example, a depreciation expense of 100 per year for five years may be recognized for an asset costing 500.

Depreciation has been defined as the diminution in the utility or value of an asset. Depreciation is a non cash expense. It does not result in any cash outflow. Causes of depreciation are natural wear and tear.

Economic bubble

An economic bubble or asset bubble (sometimes also referred to as a speculative bubble, a market bubble, a price bubble, a financial bubble, a speculative mania, or a balloon) is trade in an asset at a price or price range that strongly exceeds the asset's intrinsic value. It could also be described as a situation in which asset prices appear to be based on implausible or inconsistent views about the future. Asset bubbles date back as far as the 1600s and are now widely regarded as a recurrent feature of modern economic history. Historically, the Dutch Golden Age's tulip mania (in the mid-1630s) is often considered the first recorded economic bubble.

Because it is often difficult to observe intrinsic values in real-life markets, bubbles are often conclusively identified only in retrospect, once a sudden drop in prices has occurred. Such a drop is known as a crash or a bubble burst. Both the boom and the burst phases of the bubble are examples of a positive feedback mechanism, in contrast to the negative feedback mechanism that determines the equilibrium price under normal market circumstances. Prices in an economic bubble can fluctuate erratically, and become impossible to predict from supply and demand alone.

While some economists deny that bubbles occur, the causes of bubbles remain disputed by those who are convinced that asset prices often deviate strongly from intrinsic values. Many explanations have been suggested, and research has recently shown that bubbles may appear even without uncertainty, speculation, or bounded rationality, in which case they can be called non-speculative bubbles or sunspot equilibria. In such cases, the bubbles may be argued to be rational, where investors at every point are fully compensated for the possibility that the bubble might collapse by higher returns. These approaches require that the timing of the bubble collapse can only be forecast probabilistically and the bubble process is often modelled using a Markov switching model. Similar explanations suggest that bubbles might ultimately be caused by processes of price coordination.More recent theories of asset bubble formation suggest that these events are sociologically driven. For instance, explanations have focused on emerging social norms and the role that culturally-situated stories or narratives play in these events.

Futures contract

In finance, a futures contract (more colloquially, futures) is a standardized forward contract, a legal agreement to buy or sell something at a predetermined price at a specified time in the future, between parties not known to each other. The asset transacted is usually a commodity or financial instrument. The predetermined price the parties agree to buy and sell the asset for is known as the forward price. The specified time in the future—which is when delivery and payment occur—is known as the delivery date. Because it is a function of an underlying asset, a futures contract is a derivative product.

Contracts are negotiated at futures exchanges, which act as a marketplace between buyers and sellers. The buyer of a contract is said to be long position holder, and the selling party is said to be short position holder. As both parties risk their counter-party walking away if the price goes against them, the contract may involve both parties lodging a margin of the value of the contract with a mutually trusted third party. For example, in gold futures trading, the margin varies between 2% and 20% depending on the volatility of the spot market.The first futures contracts were negotiated for agricultural commodities, and later futures contracts were negotiated for natural resources such as oil. Financial futures were introduced in 1972, and in recent decades, currency futures, interest rate futures and stock market index futures have played an increasingly large role in the overall futures markets.

The original use of futures contracts was to mitigate the risk of price or exchange rate movements by allowing parties to fix prices or rates in advance for future transactions. This could be advantageous when (for example) a party expects to receive payment in foreign currency in the future, and wishes to guard against an unfavorable movement of the currency in the interval before payment is received.

However, futures contracts also offer opportunities for speculation in that a trader who predicts that the price of an asset will move in a particular direction can contract to buy or sell it in the future at a price which (if the prediction is correct) will yield a profit.

ISO 55000

ISO 55000 is an international standard covering management of assets of any kind. Before it, a Publicly Available Specification (PAS 55) was published by the British Standards Institution in 2004 for physical assets. The ISO 55000 series of Asset Management standards was launched in January 2014.

Investment management

Investment management (or financial management) is the professional asset management of various securities (shares, bonds and other securities) and other assets (e.g., real estate) in order to meet specified investment goals for the benefit of the investors. Investors may be institutions (insurance companies, pension funds, corporations, charities, educational establishments etc.) or private investors (both directly via investment contracts and more commonly via collective investment schemes e.g. mutual funds or exchange-traded funds).

The term 'asset management' is often used to refer to the investment management of collective investments, while the more generic term 'fund management' may refer to all forms of institutional investment as well as investment management for private investors. Investment managers who specialize in advisory or discretionary management on behalf of (normally wealthy) private investors may often refer to their services as money management or portfolio management often within the context of "private banking".

The term fund manager (or investment advisor in the United States) refers to both a firm that provides investment management services and an individual who directs fund management decisions.

According to a Boston Consulting Group study, the assets managed professionally for fees reached an all-time high of US$62.4 trillion in 2012, after remaining flat-lined since 2007. Furthermore, these industry assets under management were expected to reach US$70.2 trillion at the end of 2013 as per a Cerulli Associates estimate.

The global investment management industry is highly concentrated in nature, in a universe of about 70,000 funds roughly 99.7% of the US fund flows in 2012 went into just 185 funds. Additionally, a majority of fund managers report that more than 50% of their inflows go to only three funds.

JPMorgan Chase

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. is an American multinational investment bank and financial services company headquartered in New York City. JPMorgan Chase is the largest bank in the United States, and is ranked by S&P Global as the sixth largest bank in the world by total assets as of 2018, to the amount of $2.534 trillion. It is the world's most valuable bank by market capitalization and was named one of the top stocks to buy in 2019.

As a "Bulge Bracket" bank, it is a major provider of various investment banking and financial services. It is one of America's Big Four banks, along with Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo. JPMorgan Chase is considered to be a universal bank and a custodian bank. The J.P. Morgan brand, historically known as Morgan, is used by the investment banking, asset management, private banking, private wealth management, and treasury & securities services divisions. Fiduciary activity within private banking and private wealth management is done under the aegis of JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.—the actual trustee. The Chase brand is used for credit card services in the United States and Canada, the bank's retail banking activities in the United States, and commercial banking. Both the retail and commercial bank and the bank's corporate headquarters are located at 270 Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. The company was formed in 2000, when Chase Manhattan Corporation merged with J.P. Morgan & Co.As of 2017, the bank is one of the largest asset management companies in the world with US$2.789 trillion in assets under management and US$30 trillion in assets under custody. At US$47.7 billion in assets under management, the hedge fund unit of JPMorgan Chase is the fourth largest hedge fund in the United States.

Japanese asset price bubble

The Japanese asset price bubble (バブル景気, baburu keiki, "bubble condition") was an economic bubble in Japan from 1986 to 1991 in which real estate and stock market prices were greatly inflated. In early 1992, this price bubble burst and Japan's economy stagnated. The bubble was characterized by rapid acceleration of asset prices and overheated economic activity, as well as an uncontrolled money supply and credit expansion. More specifically, over-confidence and speculation regarding asset and stock prices were closely associated with excessive monetary easing policy at the time.By August 1990, the Nikkei stock index had plummeted to half its peak by the time of the fifth monetary tightening by the Bank of Japan (BOJ). By late 1991, asset prices began to fall. Even though asset prices had visibly collapsed by early 1992, the economy's decline continued for more than a decade. This decline resulted in a huge accumulation of non-performing assets loans (NPL), causing difficulties for many financial institutions. The bursting of the Japanese asset price bubble contributed to what many call the Lost Decade. Japan's annual land prices averaged nationwide have finally risen since the asset bubble collapse, though only mildly at 0.1%, a process that has taken 26 years to show up statistically.

Leverage (finance)

In finance, leverage (sometimes referred to as gearing in the United Kingdom and Australia) is any technique involving the use of debt (borrowed funds) rather than fresh equity in the purchase of an asset, with the expectation that the after-tax profit to equity holders from the transaction will exceed the borrowing cost, frequently by several multiples⁠ ⁠— hence the provenance of the word from the effect of a lever in physics, a simple machine which amplifies the application of a comparatively small input force into a correspondingly greater output force. Normally, the lender (finance provider) will set a limit on how much risk it is prepared to take and will set a limit on how much leverage it will permit, and would require the acquired asset to be provided as collateral security for the loan. For example, for a residential property the finance provider may lend up to, say, 80% of the property's market value, for a commercial property it may be 70%, while on shares it may lend up to, say, 60% or none at all on certain volatile shares.

Leveraging enables gains to be multiplied. On the other hand, losses are also multiplied, and there is a risk that leveraging will result in a loss if financing costs exceed the income from the asset, or the value of the asset falls.

List of asset management firms

An asset management company (AMC) is an asset management / investment management company/firm that invests the pooled funds of retail investors in securities in line with the stated investment objectives. For a fee, the company/firm provides more diversification, liquidity, and professional management consulting service than is normally available to individual investors. The diversification of portfolio is done by investing in such securities which are inversely correlated to each other. Money is collected from investors by way of floating various collective investment schemes, e.g. mutual fund schemes. In general, an AMC is a company that is engaged primarily in the business of investing in, and managing, portfolios of securities.

Market liquidity

In business, economics or investment, market liquidity is a market's feature whereby an individual or firm can quickly purchase or sell an asset without causing a drastic change in the asset's price. Liquidity is about how big the trade-off is between the speed of the sale and the price it can be sold for. In a liquid market, the trade-off is mild: selling quickly will not reduce the price much. In a relatively illiquid market, selling it quickly will require cutting its price by some amount.Money, or cash, is the most liquid asset, because it can be "sold" for goods and services instantly with no loss of value. There is no wait for a suitable buyer of the cash. There is no trade-off between speed and value. It can be used immediately to perform economic actions like buying, selling, or paying debt, meeting immediate wants and needs.If an asset is moderately (or very) liquid, it has moderate (or high) liquidity. In an alternative definition, liquidity can mean the amount of cash and cash equivalents. If a business has moderate liquidity, it has a moderate amount of very liquid assets. If a business has sufficient liquidity, it has a sufficient amount of very liquid assets and the ability to meet its payment obligations.

An act of exchanging a less liquid asset for a more liquid asset is called liquidation. Often liquidation is trading the less liquid asset for cash, also known as selling it. An asset's liquidity can change. For the same asset, its liquidity can change through time or between different markets, such as in different countries. The change in the asset's liquidity is just based on the market liquidity for the asset at the particular time or in the particular country, etc. The liquidity of a product can be measured as how often it is bought and sold. Liquidity can be enhanced through share buy-backs or repurchases.

Liquidity is defined formally in many accounting regimes and has in recent years been more strictly defined. For instance, the US Federal Reserve intends to apply quantitative liquidity requirements based on Basel III liquidity rules as of fiscal 2012. Bank directors will also be required to know of, and approve, major liquidity risks personally. Other rules require diversifying counterparty risk and portfolio stress testing against extreme scenarios, which tend to identify unusual market liquidity conditions and avoid investments that are particularly vulnerable to sudden liquidity shifts.

Modern portfolio theory

Modern portfolio theory (MPT), or mean-variance analysis, is a mathematical framework for assembling a portfolio of assets such that the expected return is maximized for a given level of risk. It is a formalization and extension of diversification in investing, the idea that owning different kinds of financial assets is less risky than owning only one type. Its key insight is that an asset's risk and return should not be assessed by itself, but by how it contributes to a portfolio's overall risk and return. It uses the variance of asset prices as a proxy for risk .

Economist Harry Markowitz introduced MPT in a 1952 essay, for which he was later awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics.

Net asset value

Net asset value (NAV) is the value of an entity's assets minus the value of its liabilities, often in relation to open-end or mutual funds, since shares of such funds registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are redeemed at their net asset value. It is also a key figure with regard to hedge funds and venture capital funds when calculating the value of the underlying investments in these funds by investors. This may also be the same as the book value or the equity value of a business. Net asset value may represent the value of the total equity, or it may be divided by the number of shares outstanding held by investors, thereby representing the net asset value per share.

Securitization

Securitization is the financial practice of pooling various types of contractual debt such as residential mortgages, commercial mortgages, auto loans or credit card debt obligations (or other non-debt assets which generate receivables) and selling their related cash flows to third party investors as securities, which may be described as bonds, pass-through securities, or collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). Investors are repaid from the principal and interest cash flows collected from the underlying debt and redistributed through the capital structure of the new financing. Securities backed by mortgage receivables are called mortgage-backed securities (MBS), while those backed by other types of receivables are asset-backed securities (ABS).

The granularity of pools of securitized assets can mitigate the credit risk of individual borrowers. Unlike general corporate debt, the credit quality of securitized debt is non-stationary due to changes in volatility that are time- and structure-dependent. If the transaction is properly structured and the pool performs as expected, the credit risk of all tranches of structured debt improves; if improperly structured, the affected tranches may experience dramatic credit deterioration and loss.Securitization has evolved from its beginnings in the late 18th century to an estimated outstanding of $10.24 trillion in the United States and $2.25 trillion in Europe as of the 2nd quarter of 2008. In 2007, ABS issuance amounted to $3.455 trillion in the US and $652 billion in Europe. WBS (Whole Business Securitization) arrangements first appeared in the United Kingdom in the 1990s, and became common in various Commonwealth legal systems where senior creditors of an insolvent business effectively gain the right to control the company.

Troubled Asset Relief Program

The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is a program of the United States government to purchase toxic assets and equity from financial institutions to strengthen its financial sector that was passed by a Democratic Party controlled Congress and signed into law by Republican Party President George W. Bush on October 3, 2008. It was a component of the government's measures in 2008 to address the subprime mortgage crisis.

The TARP program originally authorized expenditures of $700 billion. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 created the TARP program. The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law in 2010, reduced the amount authorized to $475 billion. By October 11, 2012, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stated that total disbursements would be $431 billion, and estimated the total cost, including grants for mortgage programs that have not yet been made, would be $24 billion.On December 19, 2014, the U.S. Treasury sold its remaining holdings of Ally Financial, essentially ending the program. TARP recovered funds totalling $441.7 billion from $426.4 billion invested, earning a $15.3 billion profit or an annualized rate of return of 0.6% and perhaps a loss when adjusted for inflation.

UBS

UBS Group AG is a Swiss multinational investment bank and financial services company founded and based in Switzerland. Co-headquartered in the cities of Zürich and Basel, it maintains a presence in all major financial centers as the largest Swiss banking institution in the world. UBS client services are known for their strict bank–client confidentiality and culture of banking secrecy. The bank's large positions in the Americas, EMEA, and Asia Pacific markets make it a global systemically important financial institution.

UBS was founded in 1862 as the Bank in Winterthur alongside the advent of the Swiss banking industry. During the 1890s, the Swiss Bank Corporation (SBC) was founded, forming a private banking syndicate that expanded aided by Switzerland's international neutrality. The Bank of Winterthur merged with Toggenburger Bank in 1912 to form the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) and grew rapidly after the Banking Law of 1934 codified Swiss banking secrecy. Following decades of market competition between the SBC and UBS, the two merged in 1998 to create a single company known solely as "UBS". During the early 2000s, the commensurate rise of UBS and Credit Suisse established a legally-sanctioned oligopoly on Swiss private market activity. After UBS managed heavy losses during the 2008 financial crisis with an asset relief recovery program, it was hit with the 2011 rogue trader scandal resulting in a US$2 billion trading loss. In 2012 the bank reoriented itself around wealth management and limited its sell side operations.

Apart from private banking, UBS provides wealth management, asset management, and investment banking services for private, corporate, and institutional clients with international service. UBS manages the largest amount of private wealth in the world, counting approximately half of the world's billionaires among its clients. Despite its trimming of sell side operations, UBS is among the world's nine "Bulge Bracket" investment banks and is considered a global primary market maker. The bank also maintains numerous underground bank vaults, bunkers, and storage facilities for gold bars around the Swiss Alps and internationally. Partly due to its banking secrecy, it has been at the center of numerous tax avoidance investigations undertaken by U.S., French, German, Israeli, and Belgian authorities. UBS operations in Switzerland and the United States were ranked first and second, respectively, on the 2018 Financial Secrecy Index.

As of 2017, UBS is the 11th largest bank in Europe with a market capitalization of $64.5 billion. It has over CHF 3.2 trillion in assets under management (AUM), approximately CHF 2.8 trillion of which are invested assets. In June 2017, its return on invested capital was 11.1%, followed by Goldman Sachs' 9.5%, and JPMorgan Chase's 9.2%. In late 2016, UBS established a blockchain technology research lab in London to advance its cyber security and encryption of client activities. Based on regional deal flow and political influence, UBS is considered one of the "biggest, most powerful financial institutions in the world". The company's capital strength, security protocols, and reputation for discretion has yielded a substantial market share in banking and high level of brand loyalty. Alternatively, it receives routine criticism for facilitating tax noncompliance and off-shore financing.

Valuation (finance)

Note that this article is corporate finance focused: for the valuation of derivatives and interest rate / fixed income instruments see Mathematical finance; for a discussion of the theory see Asset pricing.In finance, valuation is the process of determining the present value (PV) of an asset. Valuations can be done on assets (for example, investments in marketable securities such as stocks, options, business enterprises, or intangible assets such as patents and trademarks) or on liabilities (e.g., bonds issued by a company). Valuations are needed for many reasons such as investment analysis, capital budgeting, merger and acquisition transactions, financial reporting, taxable events to determine the proper tax liability, and in litigation.

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