Equity vs AssetsComparison with Key Differences

Lisa Borga
Last Updated: August 4, 2022
Date Published: August 4, 2022

Assets and equity are both important parts of a company and are essential to its operations and contribute to generating profits.

The biggest difference between assets and equity is that any investment in the company given in exchange for an ownership stake in the company is equity.

Whereas assets are items of value the company owns. These can be tangible or intangible, and companies generally expect these assets to generate economic value in the future.

Equity

Equity is the amount shareholders could expect to receive if the company were to be liquidated and all of its debts were paid.

Equity can be calculated by taking total assets and subtracting total liabilities.

It is possible for this number to be negative if the business has more liabilities than assets.

Equity is one of the sources of funds for the company, and the other source is debt.

Equity consists of contributed capital, treasury stocks, retained earnings, non-controlling interest, and preferred shares.

Assets

Assets are any resources, cash, or goods owned by a company.

This includes items such as equipment, property, accounts receivable, and prepaid expenses, among others.

They also include intangible assets, such as goodwill and patents.

These items often help companies to generate revenue in addition to contributing to a company’s cash value in its financial records.

Assets also help companies to continue to run, grow, and expand. Assets are funded by issuing equity or through debt expenditure.

Key Differences

equity vs assets

There are a number of differences between equity and assets, and we will discuss some of these differences to help make these concepts easier to understand.

Depreciation

Depreciation affects assets. It is the loss in an asset’s value over a period of time.

It might be the loss in the value of a piece of factory equipment over time.

For intangible assets, the asset is amortized, which is how intangible assets are depreciated.

This can be done for items such as patents or trademarks.

In contrast, a company’s equity does not experience depreciation or amortization.

Classification

Equity and assets are classified differently.

Assets are typically classified in terms of tangibility rather than value.

Tangible assets would be items such as land, office, equipment, or vehicles.

Whereas intangible assets are things like patents, goodwill, or copyrights.

Equity is generally classified as preference share capital or equity share capital.

Preference share capital does not give its owners the right to vote or attend meetings.

But, it does give owners priority if there is a limited payout of dividends or in the case of liquidation.

Equity share capital is common stock, and the owners of this stock do get voting privileges and have the right to participate in meetings.

Balance Sheet

Assets and equity are accounted for differently on a balance sheet.

When financial transactions are recorded, a matching entry is required to keep the books balanced.

In these records, assets will have a debit balance, and equity will have a credit balance.

Additionally, all assets are listed on the asset side of the balance sheet because they show the value of the company.

In contrast, the equity data is placed on the liability side of the balance sheet because it shows the amount that would be paid to shareholders should the company be liquidated and its debts paid.

Income Statement

A company’s assets and equity both affect the income statement but in different ways.

Equity shows up on the income statement in the form of retained earnings.

Retained earnings are the amount left when a company does not pay all of its profits out as dividends.

Assets can be seen in the form of depreciation on the income statement.

Depreciation is recorded by accountants to ensure that the current value of assets is recorded in the company’s books rather than the initial value.

Liabilities

Assets and equity are related to liabilities in an opposite manner.

To calculate equity, liabilities are subtracted from assets.

In contrast, liabilities are added to equity in order to find assets.

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  1. Harvard Business School "BALANCE SHEETS 101: WHAT GOES ON A BALANCE SHEET?" Page 1 . August 4, 2022

  2. Iowa State University "Understanding Net Worth" Page 1 . August 4, 2022