Working Capital – Debtors and Creditors

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If you’ve been working or studying in finance you have probably heard of working capital before. If not then you might be wondering what the flip we are talking about. Well working capital is usually defined as current assets less current liabilities. If working capital is positive, the company has enough current assets to meet its current liabilities. If not then the company may have short term liquidity problems.

In this blog tutorial we are going to look at two components of working capital, debtors or accounts receivable and creditors or accounts payable.

So what are Debtors and Creditors?

Ok, let’s first start with Debtors. Debtors are current assets which arise when revenues are accrued but not paid. For example you book a sale of $100 on account, however you receive the cash 30 days from that date. The two entries you would make are:

  1. when you book the sale on account – debit debtors/accounts receivable (Balance Sheet item) and credit revenue (P&L item)
  2. when you receive the cash – debit cash (Balance Sheet item) and credit debtors/accounts receivable (Balance Sheet item reversing the account entry in (1))

Creditors are very similar to the above.

Modelling Debtors and Creditors

Ok, so you should have a good feeling of how this works now, so let’s look at modelling this. In 99% of the cases we can calculate debtor and creditor balances using the following formulae:

Debtor Balance = Revenue Accrual x Debtor Days/Days in Period

Creditor Balance = Expense Accrual x Creditor Days/Days in Period

For a yearly timescale the Days in Period would be equal to 365 days (we’ll ignore leap years). From here you can find the total cash received or paid from revenue and expenses respectively. Let’s look at this from a debtor perspective and utilising a corkscrew account (if you don’t know what this is see our Corkscrew Account. What the? blog).

Debtor Account

Opening Balance 50
Add: Revenue Accrual 50
Less: Cash Received [x]
Closing Balance [y]

Firstly let’s find y. If we are looking at a year timescale and 30 day debtor days, then our closing balance (y) would be 50 x 30/365 = 4.1.

Now we need to find x. Rearranging the formula we get:

Cash Received (x) = Opening Balance + Revenue Accrual – Closing Balance (y)

= 50 +50 – 4.1
= 95.9

Ok, that might be a bit of brain dump…. so let’s look at some examples.

Debtor and Creditor Examples

Example 1

You forecast $2,000,000 of sales on credit each year from 2011-2015. Your credit terms are 30 days. What is the size of your debtor/accounts receivable in each of 2011-2015?

Ok, firstly and as always you need to put in a timescale as below:

Next let’s put in the Revenue – Accrual.

Now using the formula Revenue Accrual x 30/365 calculate the debtor balance.

Now you could calculate the cash received, but we will put in one more step. We will find the movements in debtors (i.e. debtor opening balance – debtor closing balance).

Now if we add the above debtor balance with the revenue – accruals we should get the cash received.

You’ll notice that the cash in the periods after 2011 are equal to 2,000,000. Why? Well this is because the debtor balance from the previous period is paid off in the next period. i.e. in the 2012, the debtor balance from the end of 2011 is paid off.

Example 2 – Homework

Now we are not going to go through this example, but we run through the solution on YouTube and you can find the answers in the Excel spreadsheet. So why don’t you give the problem a go?

Question: You buy services worth $1,000 every year from 2008 to 2011. You have credit terms of 90 days and you start with a credit balance of $250 at the start of 2008. What is your creditor/account payable balance at the end of 2011?

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By | 2011-12-06T22:07:26+00:00 December 6th, 2011|Blog|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Roxanne July 4, 2014 at 3:43 am - Reply

    There is certainly a great deal to learn about
    this topic. I love all of the points you have made.

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