Financial statement

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Historical financial statements Wachovia National Bank 1906 statement.jpg
Historical financial statements

Financial statements (or financial reports) are formal records of the financial activities and position of a business, person, or other entity.

Contents

Relevant financial information is presented in a structured manner and in a form which is easy to understand. They typically include four basic financial statements accompanied by a management discussion and analysis: [2]

  1. A balance sheet or statement of financial position, reports on a company's assets, liabilities, and owners equity at a given point in time.
  2. An income statement—or profit and loss report (P&L report), or statement of comprehensive income, or statement of revenue & expense—reports on a company's income, expenses, and profits over a stated period of time. A profit and loss statement provides information on the operation of the enterprise. These include sales and the various expenses incurred during the stated period.
  3. A statement of changes in equity or equity statement, or statement of retained earnings, reports on the changes in equity of the company over a stated period of time.
  4. A cash flow statement reports on a company's cash flow activities, particularly its operating, investing and financing activities over a stated period of time.

(Notably, a balance sheet represents a single point in time, where the income statement, the statement of changes in equity, and the cash flow statement each represent activities over a stated period of time.)

For large corporations, these statements may be complex and may include an extensive set of footnotes to the financial statements and management discussion and analysis. The notes typically describe each item on the balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement in further detail. Notes to financial statements are considered an integral part of the financial statements.

Purpose for business entities

"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." [3] Financial statements should be understandable, relevant, reliable and comparable. Reported assets, liabilities, equity, income and expenses are directly related to an organization's financial position.

Financial statements are intended to be understandable by readers who have "a reasonable knowledge of business and economic activities and accounting and who are willing to study the information diligently." [3] Financial statements may be used by users for different purposes:

Financial analysis activity of evaluating financial markets and products

Financial analysis refers to an assessment of the viability, stability, and profitability of a business, sub-business or project.

Collective bargaining is a process of negotiation between employers and a group of employees aimed at agreements to regulate working salaries, working conditions, benefits, and other aspects of workers' compensation and rights for workers. The interests of the employees are commonly presented by representatives of a trade union to which the employees belong. The collective agreements reached by these negotiations usually set out wage scales, working hours, training, health and safety, overtime, grievance mechanisms, and rights to participate in workplace or company affairs.

An investor is a person that allocates capital with the expectation of a future financial return. Types of investments include: equity, debt securities, real estate, currency, commodity, token, derivatives such as put and call options, futures, forwards, etc. This definition makes no distinction between the investors in the primary and secondary markets. That is, someone who provides a business with capital and someone who buys a stock are both investors. An investor who owns a stock is a shareholder.

Consolidated

Consolidated financial statements are defined as "Financial statements of a group in which the assets, liabilities, equity, income, expenses and cash flows of the parent (company) and its subsidiaries are presented as those of a single economic entity", according to International Accounting Standard 27 "Consolidated and separate financial statements", and International Financial Reporting Standard 10 "Consolidated financial statements". [4] [5]

Asset economic resource, from which future economic benefits are expected

In financial accounting, an asset is any resource owned by the business. Anything tangible or intangible that can be owned or controlled to produce value and that is held by a company to produce positive economic value is an asset. Simply stated, assets represent value of ownership that can be converted into cash. The balance sheet of a firm records the monetary value of the assets owned by that firm. It covers money and other valuables belonging to an individual or to a business.

Liability (financial accounting) sum of the equity and the liabilities

In financial accounting, a liability is defined as the future sacrifices of economic benefits that the entity is obliged to make to other entities as a result of past transactions or other past events, the settlement of which may result in the transfer or use of assets, provision of services or other yielding of economic benefits in the future.

Equity (finance) difference between the value of the assets/interest and the cost of the liabilities of something owned

In accounting, equity is the difference between the value of the assets and the value of the liabilities of something owned. It is governed by the following equation:

Government

The rules for the recording, measurement and presentation of government financial statements may be different from those required for business and even for non-profit organizations. They may use either of two accounting methods: accrual accounting, or cost accounting, or a combination of the two (OCBOA). A complete set of chart of accounts is also used that is substantially different from the chart of a profit-oriented business.

Government financial statements are annual financial statements or reports for the year. The financial statements, in contrast to budget, present the revenue collected and amounts spent. The government financial statements usually include a statement of activities, a balance sheet and often some type of reconciliation. Cash flow statements are often included to show the sources of the revenue and the destination of the expenses.

Basis of accounting

A basis of accounting is the time various financial transactions are recorded. The cash basis and the accrual basis are the two primary methods of tracking income and expenses in accounting.

Accounting measurement, processing and communication of financial information about economic entities

Accounting or accountancy is the measurement, processing, and communication of financial information about economic entities such as businesses and corporations. The modern field was established by the Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli in 1494. Accounting, which has been called the "language of business", measures the results of an organization's economic activities and conveys this information to a variety of users, including investors, creditors, management, and regulators. Practitioners of accounting are known as accountants. The terms "accounting" and "financial reporting" are often used as synonyms.

Personal

Personal financial statements may be required from persons applying for a personal loan or financial aid. Typically, a personal financial statement consists of a single form for reporting personally held assets and liabilities (debts), or personal sources of income and expenses, or both. The form to be filled out is determined by the organization supplying the loan or aid.

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.

There has been much legal debate over who an auditor is liable to. Since audit reports tend to be addressed to the current shareholders, it is commonly thought that they owe a legal duty of care to them. But this may not be the case as determined by common law precedent. In Canada, auditors are liable only to investors using a prospectus to buy shares in the primary market. In the United Kingdom, they have been held liable to potential investors when the auditor was aware of the potential investor and how they would use the information in the financial statements. Nowadays auditors tend to include in their report liability restricting language, discouraging anyone other than the addressees of their report from relying on it. Liability is an important issue: in the UK, for example, auditors have unlimited liability.

In the United States, especially in the post-Enron era there has been substantial concern about the accuracy of financial statements. Corporate officers—the chief executive officer (CEO) and chief financial officer (CFO)—are personally responsible for fair financial reporting that provides an accurate sense of the organization to those reading the report.

Standards and regulations

Different countries have developed their own accounting principles over time, making international comparisons of companies difficult. To ensure uniformity and comparability between financial statements prepared by different companies, a set of guidelines and rules are used. Commonly referred to as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), these set of guidelines provide the basis in the preparation of financial statements, although many companies voluntarily disclose information beyond the scope of such requirements. [6]

Recently there has been a push towards standardizing accounting rules made by the International Accounting Standards Board ("IASB"). IASB develops International Financial Reporting Standards that have been adopted by Australia, Canada and the European Union (for publicly quoted companies only), are under consideration in South Africa and other countries. The United States Financial Accounting Standards Board has made a commitment to converge the U.S. GAAP and IFRS over time.

Inclusion in annual reports

To entice new investors, public companies assemble their financial statements on fine paper with pleasing graphics and photos in an annual report to shareholders, attempting to capture the excitement and culture of the organization in a "marketing brochure" of sorts. Usually the company's chief executive will write a letter to shareholders, describing management's performance and the company's financial highlights.

In the United States, prior to the advent of the internet, the annual report was considered the most effective way for corporations to communicate with individual shareholders. Blue chip companies went to great expense to produce and mail out attractive annual reports to every shareholder. The annual report was often prepared in the style of a coffee table book.

Notes

Additional information added to the end of financial statements that help explain specific items in the statements as well as provide a more comprehensive assessment of a company's financial condition are known as notes (or "notes to financial statements").

Notes to financial statements can include information on debt, accounts, contingent liabilities, on going concern criteria, or on contextual information explaining the financial numbers (e.g. to indicate a lawsuit). The notes clarify individual statement line-items. Notes are also used to explain the accounting methods used to prepare the statements and they support valuations for how particular accounts have been computed. As an example: If a company lists a loss on a fixed asset impairment line in their income statement, the notes may state the reason for the impairment by describing how the asset became impaired.

In consolidated financial statements, all subsidiaries are listed as well as the amount of ownership (controlling interest) that the parent company has in the subsidiaries. Any items within the financial statements that are valuated by estimation are part of the notes if a substantial difference exists between the amount of the estimate previously reported and the actual result. Full disclosure of the effects of the differences between the estimate and actual results should be included.

Management discussion and analysis

Management discussion and analysis or MD&A is an integrated part of a company's annual financial statements. The purpose of the MD&A is to provide a narrative explanation, through the eyes of management, of how an entity has performed in the past, its financial condition, and its future prospects. In so doing, the MD&A attempt to provide investors with complete, fair, and balanced information to help them decide whether to invest or continue to invest in an entity. [7]

The section contains a description of the year gone by and some of the key factors that influenced the business of the company in that year, as well as a fair and unbiased overview of the company's past, present, and future.

MD&A typically describes the corporation's liquidity position, capital resources, [8] results of its operations, underlying causes of material changes in financial statement items (such as asset impairment and restructuring charges), events of unusual or infrequent nature (such as mergers and acquisitions or share buybacks), positive and negative trends, effects of inflation, domestic and international market risks, [9] and significant uncertainties.

Move to electronic statements

Financial statements have been created on paper for hundreds of years. The growth of the Web has seen more and more financial statements created in an electronic form which is exchangeable over the Web. Common forms of electronic financial statements are PDF and HTML. These types of electronic financial statements have their drawbacks in that it still takes a human to read the information in order to reuse the information contained in a financial statement.

More recently a market driven global standard, XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language), which can be used for creating financial statements in a structured and computer readable format, has become more popular as a format for creating financial statements. Many regulators around the world such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission have mandated XBRL for the submission of financial information.

The UN/CEFACT created, with respect to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, (GAAP), internal or external financial reporting XML messages to be used between enterprises and their partners, such as private interested parties (e.g. bank) and public collecting bodies (e.g. taxation authorities). Many regulators use such messages to collect financial and economic information.

See also

Related Research Articles

International Financial Reporting Standards technical standard

International Financial Reporting Standards, usually called IFRS, are standards issued by the IFRS Foundation and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) to provide a common global language for business affairs so that company accounts are understandable and comparable across international boundaries. They are a consequence of growing international shareholding and trade and are particularly important for companies that have dealings in several countries. They are progressively replacing the many different national accounting standards. They are the rules to be followed by accountants to maintain books of accounts which are comparable, understandable, reliable and relevant as per the users internal or external. IFRS, with the exception of IAS 29 Financial Reporting in Hyperinflationary Economies and IFRIC 7 Applying the Restatement Approach under IAS 29, are authorized in terms of the historical cost paradigm. IAS 29 and IFRIC 7 are authorized in terms of the units of constant purchasing power paradigm. IAS 2 is related to inventories in this standard we talk about the stock its production process etc IFRS began as an attempt to harmonize accounting across the European Union but the value of harmonization quickly made the concept attractive around the world. However, it has been debated whether or not de facto harmonization has occurred. Standards that were issued by IASC are still within use today and go by the name International Accounting Standards (IAS), while standards issued by IASB are called IFRS. IAS were issued between 1973 and 2001 by the Board of the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC). On 1 April 2001, the new International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) took over from the IASC the responsibility for setting International Accounting Standards. During its first meeting the new Board adopted existing IAS and Standing Interpretations Committee standards (SICs). The IASB has continued to develop standards calling the new standards "International Financial Reporting Standards".

Balance sheet summary of the financial balances of a sole proprietorship, a business partnership, a corporation or other business organization

In financial accounting, a balance sheet or statement of financial position or statement of financial condition is a summary of the financial balances of an individual or organization, whether it be a sole proprietorship, a business partnership, a corporation, private limited company or other organization such as Government or not-for-profit entity. Assets, liabilities and ownership equity are listed as of a specific date, such as the end of its financial year. A balance sheet is often described as a "snapshot of a company's financial condition". Of the four basic financial statements, the balance sheet is the only statement which applies to a single point in time of a business' calendar year.

This page is an index of accounting topics.

Financial audit

A financial audit is conducted to provide an opinion whether "financial statements" are stated in accordance with specified criteria. Normally, the criteria are international accounting standards, although auditors may conduct audits of financial statements prepared using the cash basis or some other basis of accounting appropriate for the organisation. In providing an opinion whether financial statements are fairly stated in accordance with accounting standards, the auditor gathers evidence to determine whether the statements contain material errors or other misstatements.

Financial accounting field of accounting

Financial accounting is the field of accounting concerned with the summary, analysis and reporting of financial transactions related to a business. This involves the preparation of financial statements available for public use. Stockholders, suppliers, banks, employees, government agencies, business owners, and other stakeholders are examples of people interested in receiving such information for decision making purposes.

Cash flow statement financial statement that shows how changes in balance sheet accounts and income affect cash and cash equivalents, and breaks the analysis down to operating, investing, and financing activities

In financial accounting, a cash flow statement, also known as statement of cash flows, is a financial statement that shows how changes in balance sheet accounts and income affect cash and cash equivalents, and breaks the analysis down to operating, investing, and financing activities. Essentially, the cash flow statement is concerned with the flow of cash in and out of the business. The statement captures both the current operating results and the accompanying changes in the balance sheet. As an analytical tool, the statement of cash flows is useful in determining the short-term viability of a company, particularly its ability to pay bills. International Accounting Standard 7, is the International Accounting Standard that deals with cash flow statements.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited , commonly referred to as Deloitte, is a multinational professional services network. Deloitte is one of the "Big Four" accounting organizations and the largest professional services network in the world by revenue and number of professionals.

Auditors report

The auditor's report is a disclaimer thereof, issued by either an internal auditor or an independent external auditor as a result of an internal or external audit, as an assurance service in order for the user to make decisions based on the results of the audit.

Consolidated financial statement

Consolidated financial statements - are the "Financial statements of a group in which the assets, liabilities, equity, income, expenses and cash flows of the parent company and its subsidiaries are presented as those of a single economic entity", according to International Accounting Standard 27 "Consolidated and separate financial statements", and International Financial Reporting Standard 10 "Consolidated financial statements".

External auditor

An external auditor performs an audit, in accordance with specific laws or rules, of the financial statements of a company, government entity, other legal entity, or organization, and is independent of the entity being audited. Users of these entities' financial information, such as investors, government agencies, and the general public, rely on the external auditor to present an unbiased and independent audit report.

Continuation of an entity as a going concern is presumed as the basis for financial reporting unless and until the entity's liquidation becomes imminent. Preparation of financial statements under this presumption is commonly referred to as the going concern basis of accounting. If and when an entity's liquidation becomes imminent, financial statements are prepared under the liquidation basis of accounting.

Materiality is a concept or convention within auditing and accounting relating to the importance/significance of an amount, transaction, or discrepancy. The objective of an audit of financial statements is to enable the auditor to express an opinion whether the financial statements are prepared, in all material respects, in conformity with an identified financial reporting framework such as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

Provision (accounting) account which records a present liability of an entity

In financial accounting, a provision is an account which records a present liability of an entity. The recording of the liability in the entity's balance sheet is matched to an appropriate expense account in the entity's income statement. The preceding is correct in IFRS. In U.S. GAAP, a provision is an expense. Thus, "Provision for Income Taxes" is an expense in U.S. GAAP but a liability in IFRS. 

Hedge accounting

Hedge accounting is an accountancy practice, the aim of which is to provide an offset to the mark-to-market movement of the derivative in the profit and loss account. There are two types of hedge recognized. For a fair value hedge the offset is achieved either by marking-to-market an asset or a liability which offsets the P&L movement of the derivative. For a cash flow hedge some of the derivative volatility into a separate component of the entity's equity called the cash flow hedge reserve. Where a hedge relationship is effective, most of the mark-to-market derivative volatility will be offset in the profit and loss account. Hedge accounting entails much compliance - involving documenting the hedge relationship and both prospectively and retrospectively proving that the hedge relationship is effective.

Management assertions or financial statement assertions are the implicit or explicit assertions that the preparer of financial statements (management) is making to its users. Financial statements include assertions related to the recognition, measurement, presentation, and disclosure of the financial information contained within such statements. The role of the auditor in a financial statement audit is to obtain evidence as to whether management's assertions can be supported.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to accounting:

International Financial Reporting Standards requirements

This article lists some of the important requirements of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

IAS 8 Accounting Policies, Changes in Accouting Estimates and Errors

International Accounting Standard 8 Accounting Policies, Changes in Accounting Estimates and Errors or IAS 8 is an international financial reporting standard (IFRS) adopted by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). It prescribes the criteria for selecting and changing accounting policies, accounting for changes in estimates and reflecting corrections of prior period errors.

References

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  2. "Presentation of Financial Statements" Standard IAS 1, International Accounting Standards Board. Accessed 24 June 2007.
  3. 1 2 "The Framework for the Preparation and Presentation of Financial Statements" International Accounting Standards Board. Accessed 24 June 2007.
  4. "IAS 27 — Separate Financial Statements (2011)". www.iasplus.com. IAS Plus (This material is provided by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), or a member firm of DTTL, or one of their related entities. This material is provided “AS IS” and without warranty of any kind, express or implied. Without limiting the foregoing, neither Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), nor any member firm of DTTL (a “DTTL Member Firm”), nor any of their related entities (collectively, the “Deloitte Network”) warrants that this material will be error-free or will meet any particular criteria of performance or quality, and each entity of the Deloitte Network expressly disclaims all implied warranties, including without limitation warranties of merchantability, title, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement, compatibility, and accuracy.). Retrieved 2013-11-29.
  5. "IFRS 10 — Consolidated Financial Statements". www.iasplus.com. IAS Plus (This material is provided by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), or a member firm of DTTL, or one of their related entities. This material is provided “AS IS” and without warranty of any kind, express or implied. Without limiting the foregoing, neither Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), nor any member firm of DTTL (a “DTTL Member Firm”), nor any of their related entities (collectively, the “Deloitte Network”) warrants that this material will be error-free or will meet any particular criteria of performance or quality, and each entity of the Deloitte Network expressly disclaims all implied warranties, including without limitation warranties of merchantability, title, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement, compatibility, and accuracy.). Retrieved 2013-11-29.
  6. FASB, 2001. Improving Business Reporting: Insights into Enhancing Voluntary Disclosures. Retrieved on April 20, 2012.
  7. MD&A & Other Performance Reporting
  8. "Nico Resources Management's Discussion and Analysis". Archived from the original on 2006-11-15. Retrieved 2014-02-19.
  9. "PepsiCo Management's Discussion and Analysis". Archived from the original on 2012-03-19. Retrieved 2014-02-19.

Further reading