What Is Mark To Market Accounting? A Complete Guide

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

It is crucial to comprehend the current values of the assets of a company while evaluating its finances. Mark to market (MTM) accounting uses the current fair market value of assets to calculate the worth of a business enterprise. As an accounting professional, you can assess a company's financial health and make informed financial decisions by being knowledgeable about this mode of accounting. In this article, we examine what mark to market accounting is, assist you in understanding how it works and list some of its benefits.

What Is Mark To Market Accounting?

Mark to market accounting, also known as fair value accounting or MTM accounting, is the process of determining an asset's worth using current market values. It estimates the potential value of an asset if the owner sells it at present. Depending on the prevailing market conditions, it provides a realistic representation of the current value of an asset that a firm or corporation receives in return for its assets. Firms usually declare their asset values using MTM accounting at the conclusion of each fiscal year.

It is one of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), a set of guidelines and procedures that aid governmental organisations in regulating commerce. This aids in defining fair value and explains how to account for it when determining a company's overall asset value. Companies may then provide the government with precise numbers when accounting for their finances.

Related: 9 Commonly Accepted Accounting Principles

How MTM Accounting Works

Depending on the asset's nature or the intended use for investing in it, there are various ways to record the fair worth of an asset. All techniques follow a relatively similar accounting procedure. How you record the difference between an asset's former value and present value is the fundamental distinction between the methods. Conducting a fair value valuation typically involves the following three steps:

1. List an asset's previous value

To list the previous value of an asset, there are primarily two methods. You can list the asset's acquisition price if it is new and you have not already determined its current market value. You can provide the asset's most recently determined market value if you have already declared a fair market value for it in the past.

Related: What Are The Functions Of Accounting? (Definition And Types)

2. Evaluate an asset's current market value

Based on the type of asset, you can use various options to determine an asset's current market value. If businesses are currently trading an asset, its current worth is the average trade price. You can research the values of similar assets to determine how much the asset might trade for on the current market if the trade has not already occurred. If there are no comparable assets to compare the asset to, you can employ a financial professional to determine its current market value.

3. Find the difference

After comparing an asset's previous value with its current value, you can determine the difference between the two. There is most likely one of three outcomes. These outcomes are:

  • It rises in value.

  • It lowers in value.

  • It has little or no change in value.

Depending on the type of asset, you can mark this difference as a net gain or loss, or an unrealised gain or loss. You can then add or subtract this difference from the asset's net gain or loss. For example, if an asset lowers in value by ₹2,00,000 and then later rises in value by ₹3,00,000, its value incurs a net gain of ₹1,00,000.

Related: 8 Steps Of The Accounting Process (With Key Terms)

MTM Accounting In Finance

If customers miss out on their loan repayments over a year, financial service companies may be required to make modifications to their asset statements. Once these companies acknowledge these loans are bad debt, they are required to record assets to fair value by using a contra asset account, like ‘allowance for bad debts'. A firm that provides discounts to consumers to accelerate the collection of its accounts receivables (AR) may be required to record its AR to a diminished value by using a contra asset account.

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Fair Value In Accounting

In accounting, MTM refers to the process of altering the value of an asset to reflect its current market value. The market value of an asset is what a firm might receive for it if the firm sells the asset at that particular time. A company's balance sheet at the completion of a fiscal year represents the current market value of specific accounts. Other accounts reflect an asset's historical cost, which is its original acquisition price.

MTM Accounting In Investments

While trading securities, MTM accounting refers to the process of adjusting the value or price of a security, account or portfolio to match the present market value. In future accounts, this helps in ensuring that the accounts meet margin requirements. In case of the current market value causing the margin account to drop below its minimum level, a trader may address a margin call to secure additional investment.

Related: Asset Management Vs. Investment Banking: Differences

Benefits Of MTM Accounting

MTM accounting provides several advantages for a business:

It can accurately depict an asset's value

You can get a precise idea of the asset's worth with MTM accounting since it utilises current market values. By doing so, you can accurately account for a company's financial situation to the government and assess how fruitful an asset is. You can also use it to assess a company's current strengths.

It can help you communicate with investors

MTM accounting is a common metric most organisations use for reporting their assets. It is likely that company partners, investors and the government are familiar with MTM financial reports. This makes it easier for you to explain to others who want to know what an asset is now worth in the market.

It can help you compete better

MTM accounting can also assist you in comprehending the asset values of a company's rivals because most firms value their assets in the same way. You can assess how well a company operates by comparing a company's assets with those of its competitors. You can improve a company's ability to compete in a market by analysing these assets and identifying other, similar ones.

It can help you leverage assets

Borrowing money from a lender is usually required to operate a business. You can correctly disclose the estimated value of a company's assets to prospective lenders by utilising MTM accounting to determine that value. The amount you can borrow increases with an increase in the value of the assets.

It can keep your risk profile even

A risk profile helps gauge how much financial risk a company is willing to take. This can demonstrate to potential investors and other business associates just how risky an investment in a company may be. By maintaining a company's borrowing capacity equal to the value of its assets, MTM accounting aids companies in managing their risk effectively. As a professional in finance, this can assist you in demonstrating to potential investors why you want to invest their funds, how desirable those investments are and how probable it is that their investment might be successful.

Related: 10 Types Of Risks In Finance And Tips For Mitigating Impact

It can help track investments

You can keep track of assets' values by using MTM accounting. You can assess the performance of each investment by maintaining regular records and monitoring value fluctuations. This can assist you in deciding which assets require more investment and which ones you can sell for a profit. This can also help you in making investment decisions by researching profitable investments from the past to identify new ones.

It can help determine financial health

You can determine how much worth a firm has by tracking its investments and its prospective revenues. This might assist you in determining whether to expand a company's facilities, recruit more staff or make additional investments. It can also assist you in informing shareholders about a company's present financial situation so they can decide whether or not to invest in a company.

Related: What Is Financial Modelling? (With Benefits And Types)

Disadvantages Of MTM Accounting

These are some drawbacks of MTM accounting:

  • It can be challenging to anticipate potential revenue since an investor can not determine if losses or gains result from shocks in cash flows or shocks in yields.

  • MTM accounting can not provide accurate valuation at times of fluctuation in the market or in volatile market situations.

  • It requires the use of checks on a regular basis and intricate systems that smaller organisations may not be able to afford.

  • When there is ambiguity, it can cause a problematic situation where the value of assets can change drastically.

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