what are intangible assets

What are Intangible Assets?

Welcome to our guide on what are intangible assets in the UK! In this guide, we will provide an overview of the accounting principles, regulations, and examples of intangible assets in the UK, as well as a discussion of how to value, disclose, and account for these assets on a company’s balance sheet.

These assets can include things like trademarks, copyrights, patents, trade secrets, customer lists, non-compete agreements, and goodwill. In the UK, intangible assets are important for many businesses and are often used to generate revenue, protect intellectual property, and create a competitive advantage.

At the end of this guide, you will have a better understanding of intangible assets in the UK and how to properly value, disclose, and account for these assets in financial statements. By understanding these concepts, you will be better equipped to manage intangible assets for your business and ensure that financial statements accurately reflect the economic substance of the business.

 

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What are Intangible Assets?

These assets can be essential for businesses and organisations as they provide a competitive advantage and can be a significant source of revenue. Intangible assets are classified into two categories: intangible assets with an indefinite life (such as goodwill) and intangible assets with finite lives (such as patents, and copyrights).

It is worth noting that the valuation of intangible assets can be challenging, and there are many methods used to estimate their value, such as the income approach, the market approach, and the cost approach. However, the most commonly used method in the UK is the income approach, which involves estimating the discounted future cash flows of the intangible asset.

 

What are the Types of Intangible Assets?

In the UK, intangible assets are commonly used by businesses, and there are several types of intangible assets, including:

  1. Intellectual Property: Intellectual property refers to a wide range of assets that can be protected by law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.
  2. Goodwill: Goodwill is the extra value of a company that is not associated with its tangible assets. Goodwill is the intangible asset that is created when a company has a strong brand name, an established reputation, and loyal customers. Goodwill can be valuable to a company and can be sold as part of a business transaction.
  3. Non-compete Agreements: Non-compete agreements are legal contracts that prevent an employee or a business partner from competing with the company for a certain period after termination. Non-compete agreements can be valuable assets for companies in certain industries where proprietary knowledge or techniques are important.
  4. Customer Lists: Customer lists are valuable assets for businesses as they contain information about potential customers, such as contact details, purchasing habits, and preferences. Customer lists can be sold or used for marketing purposes.

 

How is the Valuation Done for Intangible Assets?

Intangible assets are valuable assets that are difficult to measure and value due to their non-physical nature. In the UK, the valuation of intangible assets is subject to specific accounting standards and regulations, which require companies to disclose their intangible assets and their value in their financial statements.

The income approach evaluates an asset’s value based on its expected future cash flows and discounts them to arrive at a value based on today’s dollars. The market approach uses comparable sales or mergers and acquisitions transactions to estimate the value of the asset. The cost approach evaluates the value of an asset based on its costs to develop and acquire.

Valuing intangible assets can be a complex process, and it requires access to financial statements, market data, and other relevant information. Companies in the UK should work with qualified, experienced accountants who are familiar with the relevant accounting standards and regulations to ensure they properly value their intangible assets. Additionally, companies should review their intangible assets’ value regularly and take appropriate impairment charges when necessary.

 

What are Intangible Assets vs. What are Tangible Assets?

Intangible assets and tangible assets are two separate types of assets that are accounted for differently under accounting principles in the UK.

Tangible assets, also known as physical assets, include all assets that can be touched or seen. In the UK, tangible assets are typically measured at historical cost and are depreciated over a fixed period. Depreciation is used to recognise the wear and tear on the asset and the decrease in its value over time. In the UK, tangible assets are generally subject to the double-entry accounting system, which means that a corresponding liability or expense account is also created when the asset is purchased or acquired.

Intangible assets, on the other hand, are assets that do not have a physical form, and their value is derived from a non-physical basis. In the UK, intangible assets include goodwill, trademarks, copyrights, patents, trade secrets, customer lists, and computer software. Intangible assets are also subject to the double-entry accounting system and are typically measured at historical cost, but their value is not subject to depreciation.

The key difference between tangible and intangible assets is that the value of tangible assets is based on the cost to purchase or acquire the asset, while the value of intangible assets is based on their potential revenue-generating capacity and the expected future cash flows. In the UK, intangible assets are typically valued using the income approach, which involves estimating the fair value of the asset based on the discounted cash flows that the asset is expected to generate in the future.

 

What are the Common Examples of Intangible Assets?

Now that you know what are intangible assets. we can come to the value of intangible assets is often based on their potential future cash flows and the benefits they provide to the company. In the UK, there are several examples of intangible assets, including:

  1. Non-compete agreements: Non-compete agreements are legal contracts that prevent an employee or a business partner from competing with the company for a certain period after termination. Non-compete agreements are often valuable assets for companies in certain industries where proprietary knowledge or techniques are important.
  2. Customer lists: Customer lists are valuable assets for businesses since they contain information about potential customers, such as contact details, purchasing habits, and preferences. Customer lists can be sold or used for marketing purposes.
  3. Trademarks: Trademarks are valuable assets for companies since they provide a form of protection against imitation by competitors.
  4. Patents: Patents are legal documents that give inventors the exclusive rights to produce and sell a specific invention for a certain time. Patents are valuable assets for companies since they can provide a competitive advantage by preventing competitors from offering similar products.

 

The Bottom Line

In conclusion to what are intangible assets, we can say that intangible assets are an important type of asset class for many businesses in the UK, including goodwill, trademarks, customer lists, non-compete agreements, patents, copyrights, and more. These assets can be valuable for companies, but they can also be difficult to measure and value due to their non-physical nature. In the UK, there are specific accounting rules and regulations that must be followed when disclosing and accounting for intangible assets.

 

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Disclaimer: The information about what are intangible assets is provided in this article including text and graphics. It does not intend to disregard any of the professional advice.

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