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What Is an Asset? Definition, Types, and Examples

Photo: ASSET Photo: ASSET

What is an asset?

A resource with the economic worth that a person, business, or nation possesses or controls with the hope that it will someday be useful is referred to as an asset.

The balance sheet of a business lists assets. They are divided into four categories: tangible, financial, fixed, and current. They are acquired or produced to raise a company’s worth or improve the operations of the company.

Whether it’s manufacturing equipment or a patent, an asset may be viewed as anything that, in the future, can create cash flow, lower expenditures, or increase sales.

Recognizing Assets

An asset is a resource that belongs to or is under the control of an entity, such as a company. A rare resource that has the potential to help the economy by increasing cash inflows or lowering cash outflows is referred to as an economic resource.

Access that other people or companies do not have can be represented as an asset. Additionally, a right or other access may be legally enforceable, meaning a firm may use financial resources as it sees fit. An owner may restrict or prohibit their usage.

As of the date of the firm’s financial statements, a corporation must have a right to something to be counted as an asset.

Current (or short-term) assets, fixed assets, financial investments, and intangible assets are some basic asset categories.

Existing Assets

Some assets are referred to as current in accounting. Short-term economic resources, known as current assets, are anticipated to be spent or turned into cash within a year. Current assets include cash and cash equivalents, accounts receivable, inventories, and different prepaid costs.

Accounting professionals regularly reevaluate inventory and accounts receivable recoverability, although cash is simple to value. A receivable will be labeled as impaired if there is reason to believe it may not be recoverable. Or, businesses may write off these assets if their inventory becomes outdated.

Static Assets

Resources with an estimated lifespan of more than a year are referred to as fixed assets. Examples include buildings, machinery, and plants. As fixed assets get older, an accounting adjustment called depreciation is applied. It distributes the asset’s cost over time. The loss of earning potential of the fixed asset may or may not be reflected in depreciation.

According to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), depreciation is permitted in many ways. The accelerated approach posits that a fixed asset loses value more quickly in its early years of usage, contrary to the straight-line technique’s assumption that a fixed asset loses value proportionate to its useful life.

Financial Resources

Financial assets represent investments in the property and securities of other institutions. Stocks, corporate and government bonds, preferred equity, and other hybrid instruments are examples of financial assets. The underlying security and market supply and demand determine the value of financial assets.

Intellectual Property

Economic resources that lack a physical presence are known as intangible assets. They comprise goodwill, copyrights, trademarks, and patents. Depending on the kind of asset, intangible assets are accounted for differently. Each year, they can either be checked for impairment or amortized.
A liability is something a person or corporation owes, whereas an asset is anything they possess or control with economic value. A loan, unpaid taxes, or accounts payable are all liabilities.

What Qualifies as an Asset?

A conventional definition of an asset offers a present, potential, or future economic advantage to a person or business. The definition of an asset is consequently anything that you own or owe. Assets include $10 cash, a desktop computer, a chair, and an automobile. A loan you make to a borrower is also an asset because you are still owed the money. The loan is an obligation for the borrower.

What Kinds of Assets Are There?
Home, land, financial investments, jewelry, works of art, gold, silver, and your bank account are examples of personal assets. Automobiles, structures, machinery, equipment, money, and accounts receivable are just a few examples of the types of assets that businesses may have.

Non-Physical Assets: What Are They?
Despite being intangible or non-physical, some assets have a positive economic impact. They are a significant type of asset that includes goodwill, contracts, royalties, and intellectual property (such as patents or trademarks). Other non-physical or intangible assets that can be extremely valuable include brand equity and reputation.

Is labor a resource?
No. Human labor is the work people do for pay in the form of wages or salaries. Contrasted with assets, which are seen as capital, is labor.

How Are Fixed (Noncurrent) Assets Distinct From Current Assets?
Assets are classified in accounting according to how long they will be used. Within a year, current assets should be sold or used. The estimated lifespan of fixed assets, sometimes noncurrent assets, is over one year. Fixed assets are difficult to sell. Fixed assets depreciate as a result, unlike current assets.


  • A resource having economic worth that a person, business, or nation possesses or controls with the hope that it will someday be useful is referred to as an asset.
  • The balance sheet of a business lists assets.
  • They are acquired or produced to raise a company’s worth or improve the operations of the company.
  • An asset is anything that may increase sales, lower costs, or produce cash flow, whether it be a patent or manufacturing equipment.
  • The four categories of assets are financial, intangible, current, and fixed.

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