What Does the Term "Equity" Mean in Accounting - More Than Accountants

What Does the Term “Equity” Mean in Accounting

The phrase “equity” can refer to a variety of things, including house worth and investments. The idea of equity in accounting refers to an owner’s ownership in a company after all obligations have been deducted. Here’s a closer look at what constitutes equity in accounting, as well as how it’s determined.

In accounting, what is equity?

In finance, there are two main ways that equity is used. The book value of a corporation, which is the difference between liabilities and assets on the balance sheet, is referred to as equity in accounting. This is also known as owner’s equity, and it refers to the value that a firm owner has left over after liabilities have been subtracted.

In accounting, the term “equity” can also refer to the market value of a company’s stock. This is calculated using current share prices or a value set by the company’s investors. It’s commonly referred to as shareholders’ equity or net worth in this context. If the company’s assets are liquidated and its obligations are paid off, the shareholders’ equity is the amount of money left over to distribute to the company’s shareholders.

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What is the definition of business equity?

When you own a firm, equity refers to the company’s net worth. To calculate equity, you’ll need to know how much a company’s assets and liabilities are worth.


Assets are items that a company has that have monetary value. These can include the following:

  • Land, buildings, and furniture
  • Equipment and supplies for cash
  • Receivables (accounts receivable) (payments that your customers owe to you)
  • Copyrights, patents, and trademarks
  • Branding


Liabilities are debts that must be paid in the future. These are some examples:

  • Accounts receivable (payments due to suppliers)
  • Wages and salaries
  • Tax
  • Loans

Accountants use all of these parts to figure out how much a company is worth. Any share capital and retained earnings must also be factored into the equation.

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In accounting, the market value of equity is calculated

Market value will be considered in accounting examples of equity. This is the financial meaning, and it may show a different figure than the book value. This is because financial analysts utilise projections or performance forecasts to estimate market value, but accounting statements use historical data to determine book value.

In the case of publicly traded corporations, this statistic is simple to calculate. By multiplying the most current share price by the total number of outstanding shares, you can get the market value of equity:

Equity Market Value = Share Price x Total Number of Outstanding Shares

The assessment becomes more complicated in the case of privately held businesses. Financial analysts, investment bankers, or accounting firms may need to formally value it. Professionals will utilise a variety of methodologies to calculate this equity value, including:

  • Transactions with a history
  • Analysis of comparable businesses
  • Analysis of discounted cash flows

An analyst anticipates future cash flows before discounting them back to present value in the case of discounted cash flow, for example. Analysts examine all areas of the firm to reach any findings utilising such a sophisticated process.

Accounting’s concept of personal equity

In accounting, the term equity can also refer to a person’s personal equity, or net wealth. An individual’s personal equity can be calculated by subtracting the total value of obligations from the total value of assets, just like a firm. Cash, investments, property, and vehicles will all be considered personal assets. Lines of credit, previous obligations, overdue invoices, and mortgages are common examples of personal liabilities.

Where is equity recorded?

What constitutes as equity in accounting is reflected on the balance sheet of a corporation. Depending on ownership, this should be prominently mentioned at the bottom of the statement as “Stockholders’ Equity” or “Owner’s Equity.” The equity figure should ideally be positive. If it’s negative, it signifies that liabilities exceed assets, and the company is “in the red” due to unpaid bills. This is why, whether your company is publicly traded or privately held, it’s critical to maintain a careful check on equity.

FURTHER READING: What Does the Term “Management Accounts” Mean in Accounting

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