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  • Writer's pictureRobyn Mattison

Effective CEOs Understand These Financial Statements

Updated: Aug 4, 2023



As CEO, it is essential to have a good understanding of your company's financial numbers, and this includes understanding financial documents such as the balance sheet, income statement, cash flow statement, and statement of retained earnings, as well as key performance indicators (KPIs) related to revenue, expenses, profit margins, and other financial metrics.


Having a solid grasp of your company's financial situation allows you to make informed decisions about allocating resources, managing expenses, investing in growth opportunities, and ensuring the financial stability and growth of the company.


The principal accounting documents that a CEO should be familiar with and review on a monthly, quarterly, and annually are:


Balance Sheet: This document shows the company's assets, liabilities, and equity at a specific point in time. It is a snapshot of the company's financial position and can be used to assess liquidity, solvency, and financial stability.

Income Statement: This document shows the company's revenues, expenses, and net income for a specific period. It is used to assess the company's profitability and efficiency.

Cash Flow Statement: This document shows the inflow and outflow of cash over a specific period. It is used to assess the company's ability to generate cash and manage its cash resources.

Statement of Retained Earnings: This document shows the changes in retained earnings (a component of equity). It tracks the company's accumulated profits and dividends paid to shareholders.


Financial documents can tell a story about a company's performance and financial position over a certain period. By analyzing financial statements such as the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement, one can gain insight into a company's revenue and expense trends, liquidity, solvency, profitability, efficiency, and cash flow.


For example, an income statement shows how much revenue a company generates and how much it spends on expenses. It can reveal whether a company is profitable and how much it is earning or losing.


A balance sheet shows the company's assets, liabilities, and equity, and it can indicate the company's liquidity and solvency.


A cash flow statement shows a company's cash inflows and outflows over a certain period of time and can indicate the company's ability to generate cash.


The statement of retained earnings helps a CEO make informed decisions about how to best allocate earnings for the company's and its stakeholders' benefit.


Together, these financial documents can provide a comprehensive view of a company's financial performance and position. It is essential to read and analyze financial statements over time to identify trends and changes and to compare them to industry averages or to the company's historical financial statements. By reading and analyzing them, you can gain insights into a company's revenue and expense trends, liquidity, solvency, profitability, efficiency, and cash flow.







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