Financial Management and Budgeting in Business Importance of Financial Management Finance is a key functional area of business management. This area is commonly referred to as Financial Management. The term defines the achievement of key financial objectives by making investment and financial decisions. Essentially, it is the management of all the processes associated with the efficient acquisition and deployment of both short and long-term financial resources. Financial Management assists an organisation's management to reach its financial objectives such as the creation of wealth, solvency, liquidity, growth and return on investment achieved through a process of financial planning, control and decision-making. Financial Control Financial control consists of different strategies to manage finances necessary to achieve the primary purpose of every business; which is to earn profit. Budgets are the traditional financial control method and provide a measuring basis which performance can be assessed. By engaging in a yearly budgeting process a business can make plans and forecasts for the year ahead. Control action should be taken when actual performance appears not to be matching the outline of the budget. Therefore by monthly monitoring of expenses, controlling methods can be put into place when expenses becoming higher than figures stated in budget (such as spending cut backs or extra working hours). And by determining the reasons why figures do not match the yearly budget plan, a business can therefore make necessary plans for this not to occur in the future. Monthly monitoring of expenses is another example of a financial control. Such data includes cash balance, total wages costs and hours worked key sources of income, unusual or above budget expenditures. Three Main Financial Statements The 3 main financial statements necessary to analysis and improve on finance viability: 1) Balance sheet - 'A statement of financial position that shows the assets of a business and the claims on those assets' 2) Income Statement - 'A financial statement (also known as profit and loss account) that measures and reports the profit (or loss) the business has generated during a period.' 3) The cash flow statement - 'A statement that shows the sources and uses of cash for a period' By analysing these three financial statements on a regular basis a business can proactively forecast problems or opportunities before they arise. The 3 main financial statements are also considered as financial controls as these statements are used to understand and interpret the financial conditions of a business as a means of management and control. The statements enable a business to set guidelines and policies that enable growth and business success. An annual Profit and Loss statement is considered the most important financial statement and UK businesses are legally required to lodge a Profit & Loss Account with Companies House. In regards to cash flow, cash inflows are payments for products or services and interest on savings and investments. Cash outflows are a combination of many things including purchasing stock, daily operating expenses, fixed assets and government taxes. A business is also required to produce a balance sheet annually for reporting purposes. It provides a report of assets or liabilities. Budgeting and Budgetary Control A budget as a qualified statement, for a defined period of time, which may include planned revenues, expenses, assets, liabilities and cash flows. It is a short-term plan of working towards financial objectives. There are several styles of budgeting, these styles include - * Fixed - does not allow for variations * Flexible - Adjusts or flexes * Continuous or rolling - continually amended * Zero-based - needs assessed * Incremental - uses previous budget with increment Budgets are necessary to provide a basis for control, helping identify short-term problems and promote forward thinking. However, there is a need for budgets to be adaptable if they become unrealistic due to sudden changes in the business environment. This is known as 'Flexing the Budget' (which simply means revising the budget). A variance report is required to indicate whether performance is below or above the budgeted level. It is the difference between the budgeted level of costs and revenue and the actual levels of costs and revenues also referred to as variance analysis. Budgets can also have a behavioural effect motivating the management team and staff to achieve better performance and help promote forward thinking. Effective Business Planning A business plan is made up of many elements but no business plan is complete without this financial information. For business planning to be effective, the budget and the three main financial statements (Profit & Loss, Balance Sheet and the cash flow statement) must be taken into consideration. A financial statement is the core of a business plan as they are used to identify various business strategies. Financial planning is interlinked with all elements of a business plan. Five key strategic plans interlinked with a budget (plan); 1) establishing mission and objectives, 2) undertaking a position analysis, 3) identifying and assess the strategy options, 4) selecting strategic options, 5) perform, review and control. By taking all of these elements into considering, a business can create an effective business plan containing financial data and projections.
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