Understanding Goodwill in Balance Sheet – Explained

You will have to understand the significance of goodwill in the balance sheet if you want to evaluate financial statements. Goodwill is an accounting word derived from acquisition accounts.

Goodwill is still not easy to set a value on. For many years, people have been discussing what to incorporate and how to take it into account.

There is also the problem of testing for deficiency. That is when the fair assumed worth of the goodwill would be less than the value taken over from earlier periods.

What is Goodwill

In accounting, goodwill is an intangible asset that occurs when a buyer buys an existing business. Goodwill is defined as the part of the sales price that is greater than the sum of the total fair market value of all assets acquired and liabilities taken in the transaction.

Goodwill signifies assets that cannot be identified separately. Because goodwill is not a physical asset like equipment or buildings, goodwill is regarded as an intangible asset.

Things like a company’s good reputation, a solid (loyal) customer or client base, brand identification and recognition, a particularly competent workforce, and proprietary technology are examples of aspects or factors for which a company is paying a premium or is represented as goodwill.

These are, in fact, a company’s valuable assets. They are, however, neither tangible nor quantifiable assets.

Goodwill excludes identifiable assets that can be separated or split from the entity and sold, leased, transferred, rented, or exchanged alone or in combination with a related contract, liability, or identifiable asset, whether or not the entity plans to do so.

Other legal rights or contractual rights, whether separable or convertible from the entity and other rights and duties, are not included in goodwill.

Goodwill is recorded below the long-term assets account as an intangible asset on the acquiring company’s balance sheet.

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Companies are required by International Financial Reporting Standards(IFRS) and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to analyze the value of goodwill on their financial account statement and document any impairment for at least a year.

Classification of Goodwill

Because it cannot be seen or touched, it is classified on the balance sheet as an intangible asset. Because it is deemed to have an endless useful life, goodwill is never depreciated under US IFRS and GAAP.

Rather, management is in charge of valuing goodwill each year and determining if an impairment is necessary.

If the market’s fair value falls below the historical cost (the price paid for the goodwill), there will be a record of impairment to take it down to the market’s fair value. On the other hand, An increase in the market’s fair value would not be reflected in the financial accounts.

On the other hand, private corporations in the United States can choose to amortize goodwill over a ten-year or shorter term under an accounting alternative developed by the FASB’s Private Company Council.

How Goodwill is Measured

Goodwill is measured as the difference between the value of the transferred consideration, the value of any non-controlling interest, and in a combination, the business achieved in stages, the acquiring date fair market value of the acquirer’s initially held equity interest in the acquiree, as well as the net of the acquiring date of the acquired amounts of the identifiable assets.

This can be represented In simplified equation form:​



  • C represents Transferred consideration
  • NCI represents the value of non-controlling interest.
  • FV represents the fair market value of previous equity interests.
  • NA represents net identifiable assets.

Suppose the difference in the above equation is negative. In that case, the consequent gain or loss is a bargain acquisition, which may occur in situations such as a compelled seller acting under duress.

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Nevertheless, before any bargain acquisition gain is identified in profit or loss, the purchaser must conduct a review to confirm that the asset and liability identification is complete, and that measured values accurately reflect all available information.

The value of the non-controlling interest in the calculation of goodwill plays a crucial role. Non-controlling interest in a position of minority ownership in a firm whereby the position is insignificant and can’t exercise control over the firm.

Non-controlling interest is measured in two ways under IFRS: full goodwill or fair value and the outcomes of these two methods can be quite different.

Characteristics of Goodwill

In examining the nature of goodwill, it is also necessary to consider the characteristics of goodwill.

The following characteristics have frequently been ascribed to goodwill

  • Goodwill is an intangible asset that is inherent to a business and cannot be sold differently as a whole from the business.
  • The worth of goodwill is extremely volatile and may vary widely over short time frames depending on internal and external circumstances.
  • There is no consistent or predictable relationship between goodwill value and any expenses the company may have incurred.
  • The market value of goodwill is subjective, as its worth may vary from one buyer to the next.
  • Individual intangible conditions that may contribute to goodwill are hard to recognize and, if recognized, cannot be appreciated separately.

A Goodwill Example on the Balance Sheet

A hypothetical investor buys a little consumer goods company, which is very famous in her local city.

The investor agreed to pay the company $2.3 although the company has net assets of $2 billion, which will result in $300,000 of the goodwill reflected in the balance sheet.

In clarifying this decision, the investor could refer to the firm’s strong trademark as a key rationale for its goodwill. But if the value of the brand declines, she may have to write off all or some of the goodwill in the future.

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The Limitations of Using Goodwill

Goodwill is hard to price, and negative goodwill can take place whenever an acquirer pays less than the company’s fair value of the market.

This usually happens whenever the target company is unable or unwilling to negotiate a reasonable price for its purchase. Negative goodwill is common in distressed sales and is reported as income on the acquirer’s financial statements.

There is also the possibility that an initially successful business will go bankrupt. When this occurs, investors withhold goodwill from their residual equity calculations.

The explanation for this is that the company’s previous goodwill has no resale value at the moment of insolvency.


As goodwill is an asset, it must be identified as such at its purchased cost in a company’s financial statements.

The price is to be measured as a difference between the overall acquisition price and the fair market value of the total assets acquired following the identification of all tangible and intangible assets, thereby ensuring that the balance of buying price indicates true purchased goodwill.

An intangible asset is produced when the sales price for acquiring another company exceeds the market price of the company’s net assets. Goodwill may likewise only be obtained through an acquisition; it cannot be made independently.

It exists for various reasons, including the value of a company’s brand name, good customer relations, a strong client base, good employee relations, and proprietary technologies.

Goodwill is not the creation of assets, but simply the recognition of its existence, in the company’s financial statements as appears in the list of assets in a company’s balance sheet.