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APPRAISAL OF ACCOUNTANTS’ ROLE IN STRATEGIC PRICING FORMULATION
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Pricing is one of the most powerful levers to increase profitability. Studies over the years have shown on average that, a 1% increase in price leads to a 7-8% increase in profits- making optimal pricing more effective than improving volumes or variables and fixed costs (HSB Consulting, 2008). Also, pricing is one of the first, if not the most significant signals a firm sends to the market place about its product, its business and its competitive positioning (Strickland, 2010). According to this author, the pricing may be developed on a product-by-product basis, as a company-wide strategy, or somewhere in between these. Whatever the approach, the price a firm puts on its product tells everyone where the firm is positioning itself viz-a-viz other players and what it believes customers are thinking, feeling or ultimately valuing its products with. Failing on ‘product pricing’ can lead to a failure on the entire market opportunity for a product; failure to connect with customers or a market; and not getting any chance to adjust the price and try again. The reality is that, pricing is more art than science (Strickland, 2010). It requires an understanding of market conditions, customers, and competitive factors that matter most to customers, cost structures and many other elements that relatively few businesses have traditionally included in their pricing process.
When a company develops the right pricing for its products, it will be able to maximize its profits, it will effectively match its product price to each market segments with an ability to attract buyers and retain them once they buy, and the right price will aid the company to match its pricing to its strategic objectives. The strategic objectives translated into the language of pricing are sometimes but not always the same language as used for business and strategic plans. Some of which could be maximize current profits, maximize profit margin, (Per unit profit margin), recover direct costs, break-even (survival, stay-in business), remain status quo: maintain price stability, maintain current growth rate, etc (Strickland, 2010). These are strategic pricing objectives. To formulate or set prices that can help to achieve these objectives, thus the roles of accountants must be clearly understood despite that the responsibility is part of the sales and marketing function which has the best knowledge of current pricing in the marketplace.
Griffin (2008) observes that an optimal or strategic price for a product or service cannot be set or decided without knowing the cost of such product or service. It is however, the role of cost accountants who are primarily concerned with ascertainment of costs. There are many other roles that accountants play in the setting of optimal prices. An appraisal of these roles is the essence of this study.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Managements of most businesses (small, medium and large) in Nigeria seem not to realize how crucial the roles of accountants are especially when setting prices for strategic purposes. The roles commonly known to many of them are financial functions that relate to the collection, accuracy, recording, analysis and presentation of a business, organization or company’s financial operation. They (i.e some of the managements) sometimes rely on the rule of thumb when setting strategic or optimal prices and do not involve accountants in the setting of the prices. This therefore constitute the problem that this study seeks to solve by finding out if accountants actually play any significant role in the setting of strategic prices.
Except in some accounting texts, a detailed study on the roles of cost accountants have not been researched into let alone their involvement in strategic pricing formulation in Enugu State Nigeria.
It is against this uneven response that this study has been carried out, at least to evaluate the roles of accountants as useful to managements of businesses in Enugu State in strategic pricing formulations.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to evaluate the roles of accountants in strategic pricing formulation. The specific objectives for the study are as stated below:
- To determine the extent to which accountants participate in setting strategic price formulation.
- To find out if accountants are responsible for the computation of a company’s product worth alongside considerations for the company’s cost of capital and owners’ returns.
- To examine the functions of accountants in strategic pricing formulation development.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
In order to address the above stated objectives, the following research questions were designed for investigation purposes in this study.
- To what extent do accountants play significant roles in the setting of strategic prices?
- Are accountants responsible for the computation of a company’s product worth?
- Do accountants have any functional roles in strategic pricing formulation?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
- i) H0: Accountants do not play significant roles in the setting of strategic
H1: Accountants play significant roles in the setting of strategic prices.
- ii) H0: Accountants are not responsible for the computation of a company’s
H2: Accountants are responsible for the computation of a company’s
iii) H0: Accountants do not have any functional roles in strategic pricing formulation
H3: Accountants have functional roles in strategic pricing formulation.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is significantly educative; aiming to enlighten managements of businesses that do not seem to appreciate the roles of accountants in the formulation of strategic prices; as well as to equip accounting personnel and students of their need to be strategically thoughtful when choosing their careers in accounting.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study covered the fundamental roles of accountants in very organization but delimited to their costing roles, products worth determining roles, and their involvement in the development of pricing strategies only. The study was carried out in Enugu State in two manufacturing companies from different industries.
1.8 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The main limitation of this study was on data collection and collation. Others limitations include:
- Finance: The study should have been made to cover as many companies as possible in Enugu, even in the country at large, but because of inadequate funds, the researcher had to reduce the study to the two manufacturing companies used.
- Time: The allowed time for the completion of this study was inadequate. The researcher could only cover the areas that time could permit.
- Attitude of the respondents towards the survey: Some of the respondents were reluctant at filling the questionnaires. Through this attitude or mind set, there might have been some important data they must have held to themselves which should have been useful for this study.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
This is the art of recording, classifying and summarizing in a significant manner and in terms of money, transactions and events which are; in part at least, of financial character and interpreting the results thereof. It can also be defined as the process of identifying, measuring and communicating economic information to permit informed judgments and decisions by the users of information.
An accountant is one whose professional duty is to record, classify and summarize and report transactions and events in monetary terms for use of management in decision making (Williams, 2001). There are accountants of different categories, such as Cost Accountant, Management Accountant, Forensic Accountant, Financial Accountant, etc. All of whom have their various crucial areas of impacting the smooth running of a business.
This is an accountant whose primary role is to ascertain the cost of an activity, event, project, or product for profitability determination purposes.