Pro forma financial statements are a process of formally displaying financial projections for a given period of time and in a consistent layout. The word pro forma is derived from the Latin term which means “as a matter of form”. Most businesses make use of pro forma financial statements in the executive process for planning and control as well as for reportage to owners, investors, and creditors. A pro forma financial statement is utilized as the foundation stone while comparing and analyzing information in order to give a feel to the management, investment analysts, and credit officers about the nature of the business’s fiscal organization under different conditions. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) both ask that standard formats be used when presenting or forming these types of statements.
For those who are interested in getting started in a business, the preparation of pro forma statements, both for income and for cash flow, is essential before investing any money, time and energy into the venture. Being an essential part of the planning process, these financial statements help reduce to the barest minimum, any risks associated with the start-up and operation of a business. It may be the basis of convincing lenders and investors to provide capital for a new business venture.
Pro forma financial statements must be reliable and accurate and should help those studying it to draw a true and accurate picture of the start-up firm. It should be based upon purposeful and dependable information that will go a long way in creating a true and concise projection of the expected profits of the business as well as its financial requirements in the first year of operation and after. Once the business has taken flight and the initial statements have been prepared, these should be regularly updated, both monthly as well as annually.
Most companies use pro forma statements for business planning and control. These pro forma financial statements are obtainable in homogeneous and columnar lay-outs and are used by management to evaluate and distinguish between other alternative business strategies. By judiciously presenting information concerning financial and operating statements adjacent to one another, the management is thus able to analyze the projected results of the various contending strategies and arrive at the best path and the most suitable plan of action.
While forming pro forma financial statements, companies should realize that these statements should be unique and each proposed plan or project has its own distinct features that should be accurately captured therein. The prime usage of these statements is for management to:
1. Recognize the assumptions that cause the financial and operating characteristics to produce different company scenarios
2. Build on the different sales and budget (income and expenses) projections
3. Bring together the results in the form of profit and loss projections
4. Transform such data into cash-flow projections
5. Evaluate the resultant balance sheets
6. Execute ratio analysis and compare projections against one another as well as against those of comparable companies
7. Examine proposed decisions regarding marketing, production, research and development and make an assessment about their impact on profit as well as on the liquidity of the company
Through simulation of competing plans, useful gains are obtained with regard to the evaluation of financial effects of each alternative plan. With different sets of assumptions providing different scenarios regarding sales, production costs, effectiveness and practicality, projected financial statements for each such scenario holds enough information to indicate the future prospects, inclusive of sales and earnings forecasts, cash flows, balance sheets, projected capitalization, and income statements.
Company management also uses the these financial statements to choose from different budget alternatives. The planner will provide sales revenue, production expenses, balance sheet and cash flow statements for different contending plans and will explain the essential assumptions of each. Having analyzed this data, the management will then select the annual budget. Having chosen the action plan, all that remains to be done is to explore and find deviations in the plan and rectify them.