To deal with economic and market turbulence, businesses must create well-rounded financial plans and monitor business performance against targets regularly. Luckily, the board of directors and C-level executives can rely on the expertise of FP&A professionals.
FP&A teams play a key role in ensuring the financial stability of a business. They monitor past data, understand the present financial position, and prepare for the future accordingly. They are responsible for supporting the financial planning and decision-making processes of an organization through data analysis and reporting.
Types of Financial Reports for FP&A Teams
One of the main responsibilities of an FP&A team is to assess the financial well-being of a company by compiling reports. For this purpose, they collect data from a variety of sources and create stories out of numbers using several reports and metrics. These reports are then used by executives, managers, and other stakeholders for operational and strategic reasons.
In this blog, we look at three main reporting types that FP&A teams must use to monitor the financial health and performance of a business.
Type 1: Financial Statements
Financial statements are a set of foundational reports that provide an overview of a company’s financial position and performance. FP&A teams are responsible for creating financial statements at the end of the accounting cycle.
The most used financial statements include the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement. These statements serve multiple purposes, including providing information for investment opportunities, creditworthiness evaluations, compliance with laws, and strategic business decisions. They are stand-alone, formal documents based on GAAP or IFRS rules and audited by independent auditing firms to ensure reliability.
Here are some examples of financial statements:
1. Balance sheet
A balance sheet is a financial statement that provides a snapshot of a company’s financial position at a specific point in time. It shows a company’s assets, liabilities, and equity. To maintain this report at a “balance,” the company’s assets must be equal to the sum of its liabilities and equity. Balance sheets are an effective way to evaluate a company’s liquidity, solvency, and overall financial health.
2. Income statement
An income statement, also known as a profit and loss statement, shows a company’s revenues, expenses, and net income over a specific period, such as a quarter or a year. Income statements are important because they provide a picture of a company’s profitability over a certain period, whether the company is at a profit or a loss. This information is useful for investors, creditors, and management as they make decisions about the company. Moreover, it can be used to assess the efficiency of the company’s operations, identify cost-saving opportunities, and evaluate the pricing strategy.
3. Statement of cash flows
A statement of cash flows lists the cash inflows and outflows of a company over a specific period. It furnishes insights into a company’s liquidity and solvency, both of which are crucial indicators of its capacity to fulfill its financial obligations in a timely manner.
The statement of cash flows has three sections:
- Cash flows from operating activities: This section shows the cash inflows and outflows related to the company’s primary business operations, such as revenue generated from sales and expenses incurred due to production, employee salaries, or tax payments.
- Cash flows from investing activities: This section shows the cash generated or used by a company’s investments in long-term assets, such as property, equipment, and other assets.
- Cash flows from financing activities: This section shows the cash generated or used by a company’s financing activities, such as raising capital, paying dividends, issuing stock and bonds, etc.
4. Statement of changes in equity
A statement of changes in equity, also known as a statement of shareholders’ equity, shows the changes in a company’s equity over a specific period. It helps to understand the capital structure, shareholders’ return, and the impact of dividends on the equity. FP&A teams must use it to evaluate the effectiveness of a company’s dividend policy and assess its financial performance over time.
5. Statement of retained earning
A statement of retained earnings shows the changes in a company’s retained earnings over a specific period, such as a quarter or a year. Retained earnings are the portion of a company’s net income that is not distributed as dividends but is instead retained by the company to be reinvested in the business.
FP&A teams must closely monitor this report to gain insight into the allocation of profits, whether they are being reinvested in the business or distributed to shareholders. It helps to understand the company’s capacity to generate cash from its operations and sustain growth and expansion.
6. Statements of comprehensive income
Several transactions and events are not reflected in a company’s consolidated income statement. These items can include foreign currency translation adjustments, changes in market value of securities, gains or losses from pension plans, etc. A statement of comprehensive income encompasses all gains and losses, both realized and unrealized, that affect a company’s financial position. In addition to the income statement and balance sheet, the statement of comprehensive income provides a more complete picture of a company’s financial performance.
7. Revenue and expense breakdown
Revenue and expense breakdown provides a detailed analysis of a company’s revenue and expenses. The report typically includes information such as total revenue, revenue by product or service, total expenses, and expenses by category. This report helps business leaders to understand where revenue is coming from and where it is spent, providing insights into areas of growth or overspending.
8. Detailed account transactions
A detailed account transactions report offers a detailed listing of all transactions that have occurred within a specific account or accounts over a specific period. This report usually includes information such as the date of the transaction, the amount, the account it was debited or credited, and a description of the transaction. This report helps businesses track their spending and identify any suspicious activity or discrepancies in their account.
Type 2: Financial KPIs
Financial Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are metrics used to measure and track a company’s financial progress against specific business objectives. FP&A teams must report on these KPIs to effectively evaluate the financial performance of the company, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions regarding future financial plans and strategies.
Choosing the right KPIs is key to effective performance reporting. FP&A professionals often get stuck with too many KPIs, most of which are not even relevant to their business objectives. Some KPIs help report the general financial health, while others measure business efficiency, productivity, and overall profitability.
Where reports provide a more in-depth analysis of business performance, KPIs are used to get a quick overview of the progress of specific business goals and objectives.
Here are some crucial KPIs that every FP&A professional must know:
- Gross profit margin is a financial metric that calculates the percentage of revenue that exceeds the cost of goods sold.
- Return on sales (ROS) is a financial ratio that measures the efficiency of a company’s sales operations by comparing the net income to net sales.
- Working capital is a measure of a company’s liquidity, calculated as current assets minus current liabilities.
- Current liquidity ratio measures a company’s ability to pay off its short-term debt obligations using its current assets.
- Quick liquidity ratio, also known as the acid-test ratio, measures a company’s ability to pay off its short-term debt obligations using its most liquid assets.
- Debt to assets ratio is a financial ratio that measures the extent to which a company’s assets are financed by debt.
- Net debt is a measure of a company’s total debt minus cash and cash equivalents.
- Asset turnover is a financial ratio that measures the efficiency of a company’s use of its assets in generating revenue.
- Cash conversion cycle measures the number of days it takes a company to convert its resources into cash.
- Inventory turnover is a financial ratio that measures the number of times a company’s inventory is sold and replaced in each period.
- Payables turnover ratio is a financial ratio that measures how quickly a company pays its bills.
- Receivables turnover ratio is a financial ratio that measures how quickly a company collects payment from its customers.
- EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) is a measure of a company’s profitability that excludes the impact of certain expenses.
- COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) is the direct cost of producing and selling a product or service. It includes the cost of materials and labor directly associated with the product or service production.
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Type 3: Financial Planning, Forecasting, and Performance Reports
In addition to financial statements and KPIs, FP&A teams use various reports to forecast, plan, and monitor the company’s performance across different departmental functions. These reports mostly cover the following aspects:
1. Planning and forecasting: Accurate forecasting is essential to understanding a company’s future financial performance and rolling forecasts are a popular choice as they are agile and can be easily updated to factor in dynamic market conditions.
2. Performance: These reports measure actual results against initial plans, budgets, and forecasts, providing important insight into the organization’s progress.
Here are some essential planning and performance reports that FP&A teams must keep an eye on:
1. Driver-based financial planning and performance reports
A driver-based planning report focuses on the key drivers of a company’s financial performance, such as sales or production. FP&A teams create these reports to understand how changes in these drivers will affect the organization’s financial performance. The report typically includes information like sales, production, revenue projections, and other key metrics considered as drivers for the company’s performance.
2. Cash flow forecasts
Cash flow forecasts are financial projections that estimate the future cash inflows and outflows for a business. FP&A teams use them to predict the cash balance at a specific point in the future, such as the end of a month or quarter. They also help management identify potential cash flow issues and prevent them.
3. Sales planning and performance reports
This report details the sales projections that were made in the beginning of the quarter, as compared to the sales made so far. This report helps leaders understand consumer purchasing behavior, the business’s sales performance, areas of concern, ongoing trends in the market, and probable growth opportunities.
4. CAPEX planning and performance reports
CAPEX planning and performance reports provide a detailed analysis of a company’s planned and actual capital expenditures. These reports monitor, plan, and forecast the company’s investments in long-term assets such as machinery, buildings, and equipment.
FP&A professionals use these reports to display a breakdown of the expected costs, returns, and payback period for each capital expenditure. The report also includes a comparison of actual CAPEX spending to the budget and forecast, providing valuable information for decision making and financial planning.
5. S&OP planning and performance reports
S&OP planning involves collaboration between sales, marketing, and operations teams to create a synchronized plan that balances customer demand, supply chain capabilities, and business objectives.
FP&A teams reports on S&OP to align sales and operational goals and evaluate their performance. These reports are essential tools to ensure that the business runs smoothly, customer demand is met, and operational efficiency is maximized.
6. Budgeting and variance analysis
FP&A teams play a crucial role in monitoring and managing a business’s budget. This includes working closely with department managers to understand how their actual performance compares to their budgeted targets. On a monthly basis, the FP&A team sends out reports, known as department budget vs actual (BvA) reports, that analyze these variances and provide commentary from department managers to explain any discrepancies.
7. Operational performance review
With time, the FP&A team’s role has expanded beyond financial planning and analysis to include reviewing and reporting on the company’s operations as well.
Operational review reports provide a comprehensive overview of a company’s performance, highlighting any deviations from expected results. They also provide recommendations to improve the operations and increase overall productivity. They cover areas such as process flow, resource utilization, compliance, and risk management.
Other Ad Hoc Reports
FP&A teams often spend time creating ad hoc reports to provide quick overview of specific information that is useful for decision-making purposes. They are usually requested by managers or other stakeholders to address a specific question or concern.
For example, an inventory report that provides information on how much inventory a company has on hand and how quickly it is moving, or a report on sales performance by region.
Navigating the Financial Reporting Landscape: Choosing the Right Tool for Your Needs
After reviewing an extensive list of financial statements, KPIs, and other reports, we have only just begun to uncover the potential of FP&A. To truly excel in telling impactful stories with data, your FP&A team needs to be able to generate insights and respond to changing conditions rapidly.
However, achieving this level of agility is only possible when you have the right tool. Without adequate solutions to support your planning, forecasting, and reporting needs, you may experience obstacles in accessing the required information.
FP&A teams usually use the following tools to create and share financial reports:
Spreadsheets (such as Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets) are the most common tools used by FP&A professionals to consolidate financial statements and generate reports regularly. Being an established tool with numerous flexible options, it is the preferred choice for many individuals.
However, as FP&A initiatives broaden to encompass other operational and strategic aspects, the limitations of these tools become apparent. The labor-intensive process of gathering data from various sources, merging it into one sheet, and then constructing formulas makes FP&A with spreadsheets a lengthy and monotonous task.
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2. Accounting Software
Since financial data usually resides in accounting databases and applications, it is not surprising that many vendors offer reporting features. However, their analytical capabilities are limited, and they do not offer advanced features like scenario modeling. Because these tools store the actual, real-world values in their datasets, it is not possible to forecast different “what-if” scenarios. To plan effectively, you need to integrate a comprehensive database that forecasts potential values and evaluates probable results. For this reason, finance teams may find that they are unable to perform advanced analysis and forecasting using these tools alone.
3. Corporate Performance Management tools
FP&A professionals are increasingly utilizing advanced corporate performance management solutions to monitor and report on their company’s financial health. These solutions can easily connect with any data source, extract data, optimize data models, and produce sophisticated financial reports – all within the same interface.
A category of these tools use powerhouses like Power BI and Excel at their forefront – with a robust data modeling and planning engine at the backend. Furthermore, CPMs extend beyond financial reporting by leveraging data across various domains, such as operations, sales, marketing, and others.
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Being ranked at the top of G2’s Corporate Performance Management List, Acterys takes your financial consolidation, reporting, planning, and forecasting processes to the next level. It is an integrated platform for Corporate Performance Management (CPM) and Financial Planning and Analytics (FP&A), that is built with Power BI and Excel at the front.
Trusted by 700+ organizations worldwide, Acterys is one of the fastest growing companies that empowers its customers to have a clear understanding of their financial performance, both present and future. The solution effortlessly integrates with all data sources and provides valuable insights through interactive dashboards in mere minutes.
Some of its key financial reporting features include:
- Quick integration through pre-configured connectors for CRMs, ERPs, accounting tools, and more.
- Robust and integrated modelling environment that automatically generates data models as well as enables you to customize them as needed.
- Comprehensive security and governance features on a central data model.
- A variety of dashboards, reports, and visualizations options that support IBCS standards and allow at-a-glance understanding and consistent communication.
- Support for highly connected, agile, and continuous financial planning process between functional teams
- A library of pre-built report templates that can be easily customized and used to create reports with minimal effort
- Comprehensive scenario modeling features to uncover all potential outcomes.
- 8 custom Power BI visuals and an extensive set of proven reference models to assist users with legal consolidation, cost center, HR, CAPEX, Cash Flow Planning, among others.
- Automated, writeback-enabled data warehouse (star schema data model) generation for a variety of ERP, SaaS solutions and Power BI datasets.
- Flexible deployment options for the cloud, on-premises, and hybrid settings.
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Monitoring a company’s financial performance is vital for business success. FP&A teams shoulder a significant responsibility in this regard, that is, they transform data into valuable insights to drive impactful decisions. However, they need powerful tools to accomplish this critical task.
FP&A tools have now evolved into xP&A solutions that leverage the power of data beyond the financial scope. Leading tools like Acterys can enable you to stay ahead of the curve and allow your teams to get the information they need – whenever they need it.
If you want to see how Acterys streamlines the financial reporting process, get a free trial today. You can also book a meeting with our solution experts to get a personalized demo for your specific needs.