Accounting for Customer Lists

A customer list is information about customers, such as their name and contact information, or a database that includes other information about customers, such as their order history and demographic information. This information is useful for improving the effectiveness of sales and marketing efforts. Accounting for customer lists most commonly occurs in a business combination, or when an entity purchases lists from another company.

Keywords: Mazars, Thailand, Accounting, IAS 38, Intangible Assets

26 August 2015

Customer lists are recognised as intangible assets in accordance with IAS 38. This accounting standard sets out the rules for recognising intangible assets, whether purchased or self-created, at cost if:

(a) it is probable that the expected future economic benefits attributable to the asset will flow to the entity; and

(b) the cost of the asset can be measured reliably.

The probability of expected future economic benefits must be based on reasonable and supportable assumptions about conditions that will exist over the life of the asset. The probability criterion is always considered to be met for intangible assets that are acquired separately, or in a business combination.

Example:

A logistics company acquired a customer list from a competitor in the past valued at 2.5 million baht on 1 January 2014. The customer list is a database that includes customer names, contact information, order histories, and demographic information. The Company expects future economic benefits for five years based on the information in the list.

The Company should recognise the purchase of the customer list and the amortisation of the customer list in its financial statements as follows:

On 1 January 2014    
Dr. Customer list THB 2,500,000  
Cr. Cash on hand or cash at bank   THB 2,500,000
(To record the purchase of the customer list)    
At the end of the period from 2014 through 2018    
Dr. Amortisation expenses THB 500,000  
Cr. Accumulated amortisation of the customer list   THB 500,000

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