Cost Center Definition

In many cases, investment centers are treated as stand-alone businesses. Examples of investment centers include the Chevrolet division of General Motors and the printer division of Hewlett Packard.

If you want to identify your cost centers and know how they fit within your economics, then download your free guide here. When you divide your company into profit centers, it allows you to delegate responsibility to decentralized units and treat them as separate companies in a company. It also allows you to calculate key figures in cost accounting like ROI, Cash flow, etc.

Examples of segments and related revenues (in millions) include HP Services ($15,617), Personal Systems Group ($29,166), and Imaging and Printing Group ($26,786). These segments are likely treated as investment centers where segment managers are responsible for costs, revenues, and investments in assets. is an organizational segment that is responsible for costs, revenues, and investments in assets. Investment center managers have control over asset investment decisions.

investment center definition

It is considered to be any aspect of a business that can be segregated for reporting purposes as a separate operating entity, usually in the form of a division or subsidiary. An investment center typically has its own financial statements, comprised of at least an income statement and balance sheet.

Because costs, revenue, and assets have to be identified separately, an investment center would usually be a subsidiary company or a division. While profit centers are operated with a focus on bringing in revenue, cost centers are not associated with the direct generation of profits. The managers or executives in charge of profit centers have decision-making authority related to product pricing and operating expenses. A profit center is a branch or division of a company that directly adds or is expected to add to the bottom-line profitability of the entire organization.

Management typically uses profit center results to decide whether to allocate additional funding to them, and also whether to shut down low-performing units. The manager of a profit center usually has the authority to make decisions regarding how to earn revenue and which expenses to incur. Segments of the organization responsible for revenues, costs, and/or investments in assets and typically defined as cost centers, profit centers, or investment centers. Divisional managers in investment centers may be highly motivated than managers in profit centers due to their authority in decision making. Whether to operate business units as profit centers or investment centers often depends on the attitude of the top management, nature of the business and industry practices.

What Is an Investment Center?

Cost centers only contribute to a company’s profitability indirectly, unlike a profit center, which contributes to profitability directly through its actions. Managers of cost centers, such as human resources and accounting departments are responsible for keeping their costs in line or below budget. Responsibility centers are categorized depending on the level of control over revenues, costs, or investments. A segment responsible for costs, revenues, and investment in assets is called an investment center. Performance measures used to evaluate managers depend on the type of responsibility center being managed.

Management evaluates an investment center based on its return on those assets (and offsetting liabilities) invested specifically in the investment center. An investment center is a center that is responsible for its own revenues, expenses, and assets and manages its own financial statements which are typically a balance sheet and an income statement.

In a profit center the manager is responsible for its costs and revenues. For example, a company may have a consumer products division and an industrial division to more effectively market the company’s products. However, if the company’s executive team makes all of the investment decisions, the divisions are considered to be profit centers.

A profit center is a business unit or department within an organization that generates revenues and profits or losses. Management closely monitors the results of profit centers, since these entities are the key drivers of the total results of the parent entity.

is an organizational segment that is responsible for costs, but not revenue or investments in assets. Service departments, such as accounting, marketing, computer support, and human resources, are cost centers. Managers of these departments are evaluated based on providing a certain level of services for the company at a reasonable cost. An investment center is different from a cost center, which does not directly contribute to the company’s profit and is evaluated according to the cost it incurs to run its operations. Moreover, unlike a profit center, investment centers can utilize capital in order to purchase other assets.

Business organizations may be organized in terms of profit centers where the profit center’s revenues and expenses are held separate from the main company’s in order to determine their profitability. Usually different profit centers are separated for accounting purposes so that the management can follow how much profit each center makes and compare their relative efficiency and profit. Examples of typical profit centers are a store, a sales organization and a consulting organization whose profitability can be measured. Hewlett-Packard Company provides financial information for seven segments in its annual report.

A profit center is a division or a branch of a company that is considered to be a standalone entity. A profit center is responsible for generating its own results where the managers generally have decision-making authority related to the product, pricing, and operating expenses. Managers in a profit center are involved in all decisions relating to revenues and costs, except for investments.

  • A profit center is a division or a branch of a company that is considered to be a standalone entity.
  • Managers in a profit center are involved in all decisions relating to revenues and costs, except for investments.

A cost centre, sometimes cost center, is a department within a business to which costs can be allocated. Other types of reporting entities within a business are the cost center and investment center. A cost center is only responsible for its costs, while an investment center is responsible for its return on assets. In terms of responsibility level, the profit center lies between the cost center and responsibility center.

What is meant by investment Centre?

An investment center is a business unit in a firm that can utilize capital to contribute directly to a company’s profitability. Companies evaluate the performance of an investment center according to the revenues it brings in through investments in capital assets compared to the overall expenses.

Investment Center vs. Cost Center

ROI is a simple ratio of the gain from an investment relative to its cost. It is as useful in evaluating the potential return from a stand-alone investment as it is in comparing returns from several investments.

It is treated virtually as a separate, standalone business, responsible for generating its revenues and earnings; its profits and losses are calculated separately on accounting balance sheets. Cost centers are typical business units that incur costs but only indirectly contribute to revenue generation. For example, consider a company’s legal department, accounting department, research and development, advertising, marketing, and customer service a cost center. The managers in charge of these departments can control and contain costs – and they are evaluated on their ability to control and contain costs. But there is not much they can do to directly impact the company’s revenues.

is a segment of an organization for which a particular executive is responsible. There are three types of responsibility centers—expense (or cost) centers, profit centers, and investment centers. In designing a responsibility accounting system, management must examine the characteristics of each segment and the extent of the responsible manager’s authority. The following sections of the chapter discuss the characteristics of each of these centers and the appropriate bases for evaluating the performance of each type. Return on investment (ROI) is a financial metric of profitability that is widely used to measure the return or gain from an investment.

What is an investment center in accounting?

An investment center is a business unit within an entity that has responsibility for its own revenue, expenses, and assets, and whose financial results are based on all three factors. A business unit is judged based on the costs it incurs. The focus is on minimizing costs.

This means that the manager is accountable for driving the sales revenue generating activities which lead to cash inflows and at the same time controlling the cost-generating activities. This makes the profit center management more challenging than cost center management. A cost center is a department or function within an organization that does not directly add to profit but still costs the organization money to operate.

Accounting for resources at a finer level such as a cost center allows for more accurate budgets, forecasts, and calculations based on future changes. Return on investment (ROI) is a simple and intuitive metric of profitability used to measure the return or gain from an investment.

An investment center is a business unit in a firm that can utilize capital to contribute directly to a company’s profitability. Companies evaluate the performance of an investment center according to the revenues it brings in through investments in capital assets compared to the overall expenses.

Despite its simplicity, it is versatile enough to be used to evaluate the efficiency of a single stand-alone investment or to compare returns from different investments. ROI’s limitations are that it does not consider the holding period of an investment (which can be rectified by using the annualized ROI calculation) and is not adjusted for risk. An investment center is a business unit within an entity that has responsibility for its own revenue, expenses, and assets, and whose financial results are based on all three factors.

Is Your Company Budgeting for Capital Expenditures Correctly?

The manager of a cost center is only responsible for keeping costs in line with budget and does not bear any responsibility regarding revenue or investment decisions. Expense segmentation into cost centers allows for greater control and analysis of total costs.

Decisions regarding investments such as acquiring or disposing capital assets are taken by the top management in corporate headquarters. Having profits centers makes it convenient for the top management to compare results and to identify to what extent each profit center contributes to corporate profits. Selection of operating entities such as profit centers or investment centers is a decision that should be made by the top management of a company. A profit center manager is held accountable for both revenue and costs (expenses), and therefore for profits.

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