How Do You Prepare a Financial Disclosure?
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How Do You Prepare a Financial Disclosure?
How can you create a financial statement that connects with your audience and meets strict regulations? How do you complete and publish reports without straining your resources? Without answers to these questions, companies struggle to avoid punitive measures like fines and loss of investor confidence from filing late or inaccurate disclosures.
Thankfully, implementing a disclosure management system can help you efficiently complete your financial statement disclosure checklist. In this guide, we’ll take a close look at the steps in preparing a statement of financial position and how you can improve your reporting process with Fluence Disclosure Management powered by Sturnis 365.
What Are the Steps in Preparing Financial Statements?
Each company has their unique internal process for financial reporting, but following these steps can ensure you cover the essentials.
- Comply with Regulations
The first step in preparing your financial statements is identifying which, if any, regulations you are required to comply with. Each country and region has specific rules, so it’s important to be familiar with the regulatory bodies wherever you do business. Here are some examples of organizations that set requirements for financial disclosures, such as filing deadlines and necessary information:
- United States: Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
- Canada: Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA)
- European Union: European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA)
- United Kingdom: Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
- South Africa: Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC)
- Ireland: The Office of Revenue Commissioners (Revenue)
- Australia: Australian Stock Exchange (ASX)
Public companies are legally required to follow reporting regulations in all countries they conduct business in. While private companies are not required to do so, it is often a good idea to use regulations as a guideline, as they offer comprehensive and commonly used presentation methods.
- Identify Your Audience
The next step is to identify the audience you are reporting to. The information you present, and the presentation style you choose will differ greatly depending on the stakeholders you are addressing. For example, both public and private companies have external and internal stakeholders to keep up-to-date.
External stakeholders need to be convinced of your company's financial health and validity.
- Regulatory Bodies: Public companies must report to these organizations to prove they are operating fairly and presenting accurate information to investors.
- Investors: Public and private companies rely on investors to secure capital. Businesses can use financial disclosures to show that they are in good financial standing with opportunities for growth to prove that they are a worthwhile investment.
Internal stakeholders need to know what’s going on within your company to perform their jobs to the best of their ability and chart a path forward.
- Company Leadership: Executives can use different reports to prove results to board members, and project leaders can encourage senior buy-in with the support of data.
- Team Leaders: Sending financial disclosures to team leaders and department heads can help ensure that your entire company is aware of challenges and working toward the same goals.
To get started, consider this list of financial statements examples and the audiences they connect with:
- Form 10-K: Required by the SEC, these annual reports are designed to communicate essential financial information such as a statement of cash flows and shareholder equity to both regulators and investors.
- Climate Impact: According to HMRC, large public companies and private companies with at least 500 employees and £500 million in revenue must disclose how their activities are affecting climate change. This allows environmentally-conscious investors to make informed decisions and lawmakers to adjust policy.
- Continuous Disclosure: The ASX requires that companies disclose any new information that could have a material effect on their securities. This allows investors to keep up with market changes.
- Gather Data
Now that you’ve selected the disclosure that will comply with regulations and connect with your audience, you can collect relevant data. Some examples include:
- Supplier Invoices
- Customer Invoices
- Unpaid Wages
- Bank Accounts Balances
- Income Taxes
We recommend compiling your data in Microsoft Excel for ease of integrating with the rest of Microsoft Office.
- Tell a Story
Is financial data your only answer to “What are disclosure requirements in accounting?” If so, you’re missing out on powerful ways to engage your audience. Non-financial information ties your data points together into a persuasive narrative.
Let’s take a look at an example. When preparing financial disclosures, companies usually include forecasting. How do you write a forward looking statement? Consider the differences between the following forecasting statement comprised solely of data and the second that uses a narrative tone:
- Data Only: Our forecasted revenue is $1 million in quarter one, $1.1 million in quarter two, $1.3 million in quarter three, and $1.5 million in quarter four. We will launch a new product line in quarter one. We anticipate three competitors entering the marketplace in quarter two.
- Narrative: During the coming year, we expect to see a growth in revenue during each quarter. While competitors will enter the marketplace in quarter two, our new product line will be established before theirs, and we will outperform the competition throughout the year.
This is only a basic example, but it shows how you can present your data in a compelling way.
- Update Data with Fluence
Updating your data while putting together a report can be frustrating, time-consuming, and costly if any errors occur. This is because most companies jump back and forth between word documents, spreadsheets, charts, graphs, and other documents. With so much data in so many different places, it is easy to make a mistake.
That all changes with Fluence. Our disclosure management system automates your updating process. Here’s how simple it is:
- Integrate Fluence with Microsoft Office.
- Update your data in one location and let our system synchronize your spreadsheets, documents, and visuals.
Fluence is 100% compatible with iXBRL, making it easier for you to work with and more engaging for your audience.
- Publish and Submit
Publishing brings all of the elements of your report together so you can present a cohesive and engaging narrative to your audience that builds alignment and drives action. It can help to work with a designer to ensure that your visuals are enticing and you don’t have any formatting errors. This is also when you submit your required disclosures to any regulatory bodies.
How To Prepare Financial Statements in Excel… Fluence Technologies
Publishing financial reports on time and error free can be a monumental task, but it is a necessary one. Your company’s reputation with shareholders and standing with regulatory bodies depends on it. At Fluence, we don’t think you should have to choose between accuracy, timeliness, and efficiency. That’s why we’re bringing you a way to slash your reporting times by 90%. Don’t just take our word for it—here are some of the results we’ve won for our clients:
- Document maintenance 20X faster
- Final document review 5X faster
- Document setup time reduced from 220 days to 20 days