A financial statement (or financial report) is a formal record of the financial activities of a business, person, or other entity.
For a business enterprise, all the relevant financial information, presented in a structured manner and in a form easy to understand, are called the financial statements. They typically include four basic financial statements, accompanied by a management discussion and analysis:
1.Balance sheet: also referred to as statement of financial position or condition, reports on a company’s assets, liabilities, and Ownership equity at a given point in time.
2.Income statement: also referred to as Profit and Loss statement (or a "P&L"), reports on a company’s income, expenses, and profits over a period of time. Profit & Loss account provide information on the operation of the enterprise. These include sale and the various expenses incurred during the processing state.
3.Statement of retained earnings: explains the changes in a company’s retained earnings over the reporting period.
4.Statement of cash flows: reports on a company’s cash flow activities, particularly its operating, investing and financing activities.
PURPOSE OF FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
"The objective of financial statements is to provide information about the financial position, performance and changes in financial position of an enterprise that is useful to a wide range of users in making economic decisions.Financial statements may be used by users for different purposes:
- Owners and managers require financial statements to make important business decisions that affect its continued operations. Financial analysis is then performed on these statements to provide management with a more detailed understanding of the figures. These statements are also used as part of management’s annual report to the stockholders.
- Employees also need these reports in making collective bargaining agreements (CBA) with the management, in the case of labor unions or for individuals in discussing their compensation, promotion and rankings.
- Prospective investors make use of financial statements to assess the viability of investing in a business. Financial analyses are often used by investors and are prepared by professionals (financial analysts), thus providing them with the basis for making investment decisions.
- Financial institutions (banks and other lending companies) use them to decide whether to grant a company with fresh working capital or extend debt securities (such as a long-term bank loan or debentures) to finance expansion and other significant expenditures.
- Government entities (tax authorities) need financial statements to ascertain the propriety and accuracy of taxes and other duties declared and paid by a company.
- Vendors who extend credit to a business require financial statements to assess the creditworthiness of the business.
- Media and the general public are also interested in financial statements for a variety of reasons.
Although laws differ from country to country, an audit of the financial statements of a public company is usually required for investment, financing, and tax purposes. These are usually performed by independent accountants or auditing firms. Results of the audit are summarized in an audit report that either provide an unqualified opinion on the financial statements or qualifications as to its fairness and accuracy. The audit opinion on the financial statements is usually included in the annual report.
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