ACCA P5考试：TRANSFER PRICE（一）
WHEN TRANSFER PRICES ARE NEEDED
Transfer prices are almost inevitably needed whenever a business is divided into more than one department or division. Usually, goods or services will flow between the divisions and each will report its performance separately. The accounting system will usually record goods or services leaving one department and entering the next, and some monetary value must be used to record this. That monetary value is the transfer price. The transfer price negotiated between the divisions, or imposed by head office, can have a profound, but perhaps arbitrary, effect on the reported performance and subsequent decisions made.
Performance evaluation. The success of each division, whether measured by return on investment (ROI) or residual income (RI) will be changed. These measures might be interpreted as indicating that a division’s performance was unsatisfactory and could tempt management at head office to close it down.
Performance-related pay. If there is a system of performance-related pay, the remuneration of employees in each division will be affected as profits change. If they feel that their remuneration is affected unfairly, employees’ morale will be damaged.
Make/abandon/buy-in decisions. If the transfer price is very high, the receiving division might decide not to buy any components from the transferring division because it becomes impossible for it to make a positive contribution. That division might decide to abandon the product line or buy-in cheaper components from outside suppliers.
Motivation. Everyone likes to make a profit and this ambition certainly applies to the divisional managers. If a transfer price was such that one division found it impossible to make a profit, then the employees in that division would probably be demotivated. In contrast, the other division would have an easy ride as it would make profits easily, and it would not be motivated to work more efficiently.
Investment appraisal. New investment should typically be evaluated using a method such as net present value. However, the cash inflows arising from an investment are almost certainly going to be affected by the transfer price, so capital investment decisions can depend on the transfer price.
Taxation and profit remittance. If the divisions are in different countries, the profits earned in each country will depend on transfer prices. This could affect the overall tax burden of the group and could also affect the amount of profits that need to be remitted to head office.
As you can see, therefore, transfer prices can have a profound effect on group performance because they affect divisional performance, motivation and decision making.
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A GOOD TRANSFER PRICE
Although not easy to attain simultaneously, a good transfer price should:
Preserve divisional autonomy: almost inevitably, divisionalisation is accompanied by a degree of decentralisation in decision making so that specific managers and teams are put in charge of each division and must run it to the best of their ability. Divisional managers are therefore likely to resent being told by head office which products they should make and sell. Ideally, divisions should be given a simple, understandable objective such as maximising divisional profit.
Be perceived as being fair for the purposes of performance evaluation and investment decisions.
Permit each division to make a profit: profits are motivating and allow divisional performance to be measured using positive ROI or positive RI.
Encourage divisions to make decisions which maximise group profits: the transfer price will achieve this if the decisions which maximise divisional profit also happen to maximise group profit – this is known as goal congruence. Furthermore, all divisions must want to do the same thing. There’s no point in transferring divisions being very keen on transferring out if the next division doesn’t want to transfer in.