📣 Discover Absolute Cash Flow Mastery with a Centralized AR Hub:
Join Our Exclusive Webinar on June 20 at 11 AM PDT.
Reserve Your Spot.

What is a Financial Statement?

What is a Financial Statement?

Financial Statement Definition

A financial statement is a formal record of the financial activities and position of a business, individual, or other entity. Relevant financial information is presented in a structured manner and in a form easy to understand.

Financial statements prepared under IFRS (international financial reporting standard) and GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) and provide users with information that is accurate, relevant, and comparable across international boundaries.

Types of Financial Statements

  • Balance Sheet (or Statement of Financial Position): The balance sheet financial report provides a snapshot of an entity's assets, liabilities, and equity at a specific point in time. It shows what the entity owns and owes, as well as the amount invested by the shareholders.
  • Income Statement (or Profit and Loss Statement): This report shows the company's revenue, expense, and profit or loss over time. It highlights how the revenues are transformed into the net income, net profit, or gross profit.
  • Cash Flow Statement: The cash flow statement shows the changes in the company's cash (and cash equivalent) by categorizing cash flow into operations, investing, and financing activities over a period. It provides insights into the company's liquidity and solvency.
  • Statement of Changes in Equity: Also known as the equity statement or statement of retained earnings, this financial reporting document details the movement in shareholders equity over a period. This includes profits or losses, dividends paid, and any increases or decreases from stock issuance or repurchase.

Importance of Financial Statement

Financial statements are crucial for various stakeholders for many reasons:

  • Decision Making: They provide essential information to management, investors, creditors, and other stakeholders, helping them make informed decisions regarding investments, lending, management practices, and strategic planning.
  • Performance Evaluation: Financial statements enable the assessment of a company's financial performance over time, facilitating trend analysis and benchmarking against competitors. This helps in evaluating the effectiveness of management strategies and operational efficiency.
  • Financial Position: They offer a snapshot of the financial health (and the companys financial position) at a given time, detailing assets, liabilities, and equity. This information is vital for assessing the company's stability, liquidity, and solvency.
  • Compliance and Regulation: For publicly traded companies, financial statements are regulatory requirements. They ensure transparency, accountability, and compliance with accounting standards and legal requirements, helping to maintain investor confidence and market integrity.
  • Access to Capital: Financial statements are used by lenders and investors to assess the risk associated with lending to or investing in a company. Positive financial health shown by these statements can facilitate easier access to loans and investment capital.
  • Taxation and Legal: These documents are essential for accurately calculating taxes owed and ensuring compliance with tax laws. They can also be used in legal proceedings to establish a financial position or in negotiations during mergers and acquisitions.
  • Budgeting and Forecasting: By analyzing past financial performance, companies can better forecast future financial trends, enabling more effective budgeting and financial planning and analysis.

Audited Financial Statements

An audited financial statement is a financial report of a company that has been examined and verified by an independent external auditor. The financial statement analysis audit is conducted to ensure that the financial statements provide a true and fair view of the company's financial position and performance, under the relevant standard and accounting principle. 

The process involves:

Verification of Financial Information

In a financial audit, auditors examine the company's financial transactions, records, and statements to verify their accuracy and completeness. They check the validity of the data reported in the financial statements against source documents and accounting records.

Assessment of Accounting Policies 

The auditors evaluate whether the company has applied appropriate accounting policies consistently and if changes in policies have been properly accounted for and disclosed.

Internal Control Evaluation 

Part of the audit involves assessing the effectiveness of the company's internal controls over financial reporting. This includes reviewing procedures for safeguarding assets, preventing and detecting fraud, and ensuring the accuracy and completeness of financial data.


Auditors check compliance with relevant laws and regulations that have a significant impact on the financial statements. This includes tax laws, financial regulations, and other statutory requirements.

Issuance of an Audit Opinion 

Upon completion of the audit, the auditor issues an opinion on the financial statements. The most common types of opinions are:

  • Unqualified Opinion (Clean Report): Shows that the financial statements present the company's financial position, results of operations, and cash flows fairly.
  • Qualified Opinion: Suggests that except for certain issues, the financial statements are presented fairly.
  • Adverse Opinion: Issued when the financial statements do not present the company's financial position fairly and contain material misstatements.
  • Disclaimer of Opinion: Issued when the auditor cannot form an opinion on the financial statements, usually because of significant limitations on the scope of the audit.

Financial Statements and Financial Modeling

The relationship between financial statements and financial modeling is both direct and foundational. Financial modeling involves creating a summary of a company's operating expense and earnings as a spreadsheet that can calculate the impact of a future event or decision. 

Financial statements serve as the critical inputs and building blocks for these models. Here’s how they are related:

  • Data Foundation: Financial models often start with data from financial statements. The balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement provide historical data that modelers use to identify trends, patterns, and relationships within a company's financial performance.
  • Projection Basis: Financial models use historical data from financial statements to project future financial performance. This includes forecasting future revenue, expense, cash flow, and other financial metrics. Analysts adjust these projections based on assumptions about the company’s future operations, market conditions, and strategic decisions.
  • Scenario Analysis: Financial modeling allows for scenario analysis, where different outcomes are projected based on varying assumptions. This financial analysis relies heavily on manipulating the data from financial statements to explore the financial effects of different strategic decisions, economic environments, or market conditions.
  • Valuation: Financial modeling is key for valuation exercises, such as discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis, where future cash inflows projected from financial statements are discounted back to their present value. This requires a deep understanding of the company’s historical performance, as reported in its financial statements.
  • Performance Metrics: Models use financial ratios and metrics derived from financial statements, such as return on equity (ROE), return on assets (ROA), debt to equity ratio, and profit margins, to analyze and predict financial performance and health.
  • Integration and Interactivity: The integrated nature of the financial statements (how the cash flow statement links to both the balance sheet and income statement, for example) mirrors the interconnectedness of various parts of a financial model. Changes in one area of the model, based on assumptions or projected performance, can affect the entire model, reflecting the holistic view provided by financial statements.
  • Decision-Making Tool: Ultimately, financial models, built upon the foundation of financial statements, serve as sophisticated decision-making tools. They enable stakeholders to evaluate the financial implications of various strategic options, investment decisions, or funding strategies.

Limitations of a Financial Statement

Financial statements are invaluable tools for analyzing a company's financial health and performance, but they come with certain limitations:

  • Historical Data: Financial statements primarily provide historical information and will not reflect the current or future financial condition of a company. They offer a snapshot in time, which can be less relevant for fast-changing markets or industries.
  • Accounting Policies and Standards: Different companies can adopt different accounting policies and standards, which can make it difficult to compare financial statements across entities. Changes in accounting policies or standards can also affect the comparability of financial statements over time.
  • Subjectivity and Estimates: The preparation of financial statements involves the use of estimates and judgments by management, especially in areas like depreciation, valuation of inventories, and provision for doubtful debts. These estimates can introduce subjectivity and will not accurately represent the actual financial position.
  • Non-financial Factors: Financial statements do not capture non-financial factors that can affect a company's performance or value, such as its brand reputation, customer satisfaction, or employee morale. These intangible assets can be crucial for success, but are not quantified in traditional financial statements.
  • Omission of Opportunity Costs: Financial statements do not reflect opportunity costs or the cost of choosing one investment over another. This can limit the understanding of the actual economic effects of business decisions.
  • Potential for Manipulation: Companies could engage in creative accounting or earnings management to present their financial performance in a more favorable light. This can involve legal yet aggressive accounting tactics that will not fully reflect the company’s true financial health.
  • Lack of Real-Time Information: Financial statements are typically published on a quarterly or as an annual report and will not provide real-time financial data. This delay can limit the ability of users to make timely decisions based on the most current financial information.
  • Focus on Quantitative Data: While financial statements provide quantitative financial data, they often overlook qualitative aspects that could significantly affect an entity's financial health, like market conditions, competition, and regulatory changes.
Growfin Book a Demo

Don't miss these stories: