Global Business Support with the Common Language of Accounting
Feb 22, 2023
With its founding business in leasing, Tokyo Century has been agilely responding to changes in the business environment as well as the needs of society and customers and has expanded into such diverse business fields as car rental, real estate, aircraft, the environment, and energy. The circle of Group companies has been expanding both domestically and internationally through proactive M&A and partnership strategies.
What role does the administrative unit play as the organization becomes increasingly complex and globalized? In this article, we will introduce the role of our Accounting Division from the perspective of young employees, as well as the management vision and expectations for them.
A Common Language to Unite Group Companies in Japan and Abroad
—You have been with the Accounting Division since joining the Company in 2019, haven’t you?
Ukon: When looking for a job, I felt that regardless of the specific industry or occupation, I would have to interact with people overseas. So, I became increasingly aware of the need to have a common language in business and to hone my knowledge and skills in specific fields. During the selection process, the Company suggested multiple divisions that could realize my aspirations, and one of them was the Accounting Division.
—What exactly do you do?
Ukon: The Accounting Division has groups for each of the following four areas of work: consolidated accounting, non-consolidated accounting, tax and management accounting, and internal and cost control. I belong to the consolidated group, and my main mission is to check financial statements reported by domestic and overseas Group companies and prepare quarterly consolidated financial statements. Members of the consolidated accounting group are required to have a wide range of accounting-related knowledge, from understanding the rules applicable to overseas affiliates, to the business activities and trends in balance sheet and profit and loss data of each company they are in charge of. Currently, I’m mainly in charge of U.S. companies, with a focus on Tokyo Century (USA) Inc. (TCUSA) and CSI Leasing, Inc. (CSI), which became a member of the Group in 2016, and I communicate every day with the accounting staff of these companies.
Tokyo Century (USA) Inc. (head office: New York, USA) was established in 1985. In recent years, TCUSA has positioned its leasing and finance business, which mainly sells small and medium-sized trucks and arbor equipment, as one of its growth drivers in North America, and has acquired a series of dealers as subsidiaries. TCUSA has established a one-stop service system that handles everything from offering leasing and finance to sales and after-sales service.
CSI Leasing, Inc. (head office: Missouri, USA) is a leading global leasing company with strengths in IT lifecycle management services that combine FMV leasing of IT equipment*1 and ITAD service*2, providing services in more than 50 countries worldwide.
*1: Fair market value (“FMV”) leasing is a form of highly flexible equipment leasing that offers customers multiple options, such as returning the asset, purchasing the asset, or extending the lease of the asset at the end of the original lease period. As customers are not required to make a commitment regarding their plans for the asset at the time the lease is signed, they can make a considered decision in accordance with their particular business needs at the end of the lease term.
*2: IT asset disposition (“ITAD”) is the process of disposing of IT assets through safe and environmentally appropriate methods in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
—Your first year at the Company coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic (from January 2020). Did you have any concerns about learning the job?
Ukon: I knew little about accounting before joining the Company, so in my first year, I started by following the work of my senior employees on the job training, one by one, and gradually learned my job by attending external training courses and reading books on my own. My supervisor and senior employees carefully taught me when working at the office and from home, so I didn’t feel that my growth was limited due to the pandemic.
Acting as a Supporter of a Partnership Strategy
—What are your distinctive tasks other than closing accounts?
Ukon: I respond to inquiries from the Business Unit. Our partnership strategy is one of our strengths, and we often consider setting up new joint ventures with business partners or investing in companies using financial structures. In these situations, one important part of my work is to give advice to business divisions regarding the accounting and tax benefits as well as risk factors.
Complying with accounting standards and rules, I take into account the wishes of the Business Unit and seek the best way to land a deal for the Company. Contracts, laws, and regulations are often difficult to understand because of their unique wording, so I sometimes have to read them cover to cover and look for material that enables exceptional accounting treatment. My background in law at college may have been put to good use for this. When, with the approval of my supervisor, I patiently discuss with the auditing firm and ultimately succeed in an accounting treatment that satisfies all parties involved, I feel tremendous satisfaction.
—You work very closely with sales staff, don’t you?
Ukon: Yes. There are various inquiries, some of which can be responded to immediately in accordance with accounting standards, while others require confirmation with the auditing firm. But I always keep in mind that I should not judge situations solely by the book and spare no effort to bring solutions closer to realization. In addition, the Accounting Division currently has two members with sales experience who had been transferred under the Career Challenge System*. The conversations and knowledge of these members in sales have broadened the perspective of the division as a whole, and I feel that this has also deepened our understanding of accounting treatment.
*An internal recruitment system was introduced in fiscal 2020, whereby divisions seeking personnel disclose their requirements and hire from the pool of applicants.
Witnessing Professionalism in the First Meeting with an Overseas Group Company
—I heard that you recently visited the U.S. on business for the first time.
Ukon: Members of the Accounting Division sometimes visit Group companies in Japan but rarely overseas. This time, I accompanied President Baba on a business trip and visited TCUSA, CSI, and the facility of EPC, Inc. (EPC), a subsidiary of CSI that provides ITAD service.
CSI has been growing by leaps and bounds since becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo Century in 2016, and the driving force behind the growth has been its ITAD service. After a lease expires, the IT equipment is brought to the EPC facility for its data to be erased, and the equipment is crushed. I knew from the financial statements I see every day that EPC had been contributing to the Company’s profits, but still I was overwhelmed to see this done right in front of my eyes. According to President Baba, the number of machines and parts to be processed or sold has clearly increased compared to five years ago, when he last visited EPC. On this trip he was able to see first-hand that the scale of the business had expanded.
—I understand that you have also met with CSI’s accounting team for the first time. What was your impression?
Ukon: CSI’s accounting team has about 20 members and is diverse in terms of ethnicity and other backgrounds. What particularly impressed me was that they were very close to the management and to each other, and they maintained a very welcoming atmosphere. Even within the accounting profession, each team member specializes in a particular area, such as management accounting or corporate taxation. This climate may have been fostered by our respect for each other as professionals. And a lot of them joined CSI after developing their expertise over many years at other companies, and I would like to learn from them as we deepen our communication going forward.
—How would you like to return what you’ve gained from this business trip to the Accounting Division?
Ukon: Currently as a rule, employees at CSI work from home three times a week, but many came to the office in line with my business trip, so I was able to meet most of the team in person. Until now, we have mainly communicated by email, so it was a great opportunity to personally get to know each other, even for a short time. I think this experience will be useful in understanding each other’s intentions along with the detailed nuances that cannot be grasped even in video conferences.
I was nervous because this business trip was decided at short notice, and my English wasn’t good enough to speak fluently. However, I think I was able to achieve my goal of taking the first step towards stronger cooperation between the accounting organizations of the two companies. I hope that other members of our Accounting Division will also visit Group companies as the opportunity arises.
The Accounting Division Should Always be There for the Business Unit and Easy to Talk to
—What are your goals for the future?
Ukon: Under its corporate slogan “solutions to your pursuits,” our company helps customers solve their problems and expand their businesses through a business model that integrates the three axes of our “Finance × Services × Business Expertise” concept. We also place great importance on employees in their pursuits and encourage all of them to grow by developing systems and fostering our corporate culture. As I mentioned about collaborating with the Business Unit, the Accounting Division always wants to be a division or businesspeople that is or are easy to talk to when the Company promotes some new idea or measure.
In addition, the Company has four operating segments, and I have experienced the full range of accounting work for Group companies in each. I would like to deepen my understanding of each company in terms of accounting treatment, and at the same time I want to try my hand at taxation.
Management Vision of the Accounting Division and Expectations for Young Employees
Becoming a Group of Professionals with Expertise in Accounting and Taxation × Business Literacy (from the general manager of the Accounting Division)
Our business environment has been changing as our operations expand and consolidated business management becomes more sophisticated. Against this backdrop, our Accounting Division aims to become a professional group by developing its expertise in accounting and taxation and also by communicating closely with the Business Unit and Group companies, thereby fostering personnel with not only knowledge of accounting and taxation but literacy in business as well. This, I believe, will lead to providing appropriate support within the Company and to other parts of the Group, which in turn will contribute to the growth of the Tokyo Century Group.
Proactively Proposing Your Own Ideas (from the deputy general manager of the Accounting Division)
I expect internal and external stakeholders to be able to rely on everyone in the Accounting Division. To this end, it is of course necessary to acquire knowledge of accounting and taxation and also to understand the intentions of others and provide appropriate advice based on your own knowledge. These days, we primarily communicate through email due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I would like the accounting staff to communicate by phone or in person depending on the situation and to proactively suggest their own ideas without fear of making mistakes, rather than just responding to inquiries.
Accounting Division, Tokyo Century Corporation
Joined the Company in 2019. Mainly responsible for consolidated accounting and disclosure in the Accounting Division. In his first year with the Company, he was primarily in charge of companies in Thailand and currently oversees those in the U.S. His motto at work is to be respectful, polite, and persistent in dealing with others.
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