Limitations of Financial Statements, Features and Importance (2024)

Before placing an undue amount of reliance on accounting records, users must be aware of their limits. Knowing these characteristics might lead one to spend less money on a company or investigate them further. Below are some of thelimitations of financial statements.

Did you know? You may see from financial statements what resources are available and how they were financed as of a particular date. Also, learn how assets, liabilities, and owner equity are displayed (essentially, what it owes, owns, and the amount invested by shareholders).

What Are the Limitations of Financial Statements?

Although financial statements are tremendously helpful to a business, there are nonetheless many limitations of the financial statements.

Also read:Know the Basics of Managerial Accounting

  • Financial Statements Are Derived from Historical Costs

The company records the worth of a business initially. While looking at the balance sheet, in which the valuations of the assets and debts may alter over the period, it is an issue. Other elements, like fixed assets, remain the same while certain things, like capital assets, fluctuate to reflect changes in actual market prices. Therefore, if a significant portion of the sum shown is dependent on prior prices, the balance sheet may be deceptive.

  • Financial Statements Are Not Adjusted for Inflation

The quantities linked to withholdings and net debt will seem excessively low if the annual inflation is exceptionally high because of not considering inflation. The majority of long-term investments fall under this.

  • Financial Statements Do Not Contain Some Intangible Assets

Anotherdisadvantage of financial statementsis thatintangible assets are frequently not counted as property. Any costs incurred to produce intangible resources, however, they charge directly into expenditure. This strategy can grossly undervalue a company, particularly one that has invested heavily in creating a strong brand identity or developing new goods. Startup businesses that have developed intellectual property but who have been making a small number of sales thus far are particularly affected.

  • Financial Statements Only Cover a Specific Period

A limitation of a financial statement is that by focusing just on a single financial quarter, a viewer of accounting records may obtain an inaccurate impression of a company's financial performance or working capital. Either one quarter may deviate from a company's typical operational results, whether as a consequence of a sharp increase in sales or the impacts of periodicity. To get a better understanding of current performance, it is preferable to study a lot of successive financial statements.

  • FinancialStatements May Not Be Comparable

Since organisations have multiple accounting processes, financial statements from various firms may not always be equivalent if a person wants to analyse their performance. Reviewing the disclaimers that go along with the financial statements will help you find these problems.

  • Financial Statements Could be Wrong Due to Fraud

In this limitation of financial statement analysis, we can find that the management may manipulate a company’s financial results. This problem may arise when there is excessive pressure to produce successful outcomes in situations when a bonus plan stipulates that the employees will be getting rewards only when the sales levels rise. Whenever the latest numbers jump to the point that is over the industry average or significantly above a firm's previous line graph of published results, one can question the existence of this problem.

Also read:What is Accounting Cycle: Definition and Steps in the Accounting Cycle Process.

  • Financial Statements Do Not Cover Non-Financial Issues

The environmental consciousness of a firm’s activities or how everything collaborates with the local area is an example of non-financial aspects that the company does not cover in the financial statements. Even a company with stellar financial success could struggle in all those other aspects.

  • Financial Statements May Not Have Been Verified

There might be cases where no one audits the financial statements and checks the bank's accounting rules, procedures, and safeguards to ensure that the company's financial statements are correct. The financial statements accompanying the auditor's report prove such scrutiny.

  • Financial Statements Have No Predictive Value

A collection of financial statements contains information that one can use to learn about the past performance or the current financial health of an organisation. A team's predictions using the statements may or may not be useful in foretelling the future. For instance, a company may declare substantial earnings one month but have almost zero sales the following month since a deal upon which it was dependent has expired.

The factors listed above are allthe limitations of financial statements, which each company and individual must be aware of.

The Features of Financial Statements

  • They must be suitable for the target users. Avoid superfluous or misleading information, and ensure the audience knows all pertinent and important disclosures.
  • They should provide complete and accurate details about a company's performance, status, development and aspirations. It is also crucial that people who create and display the financial figures prevent misrepresenting the facts because of their own biases.
  • They have to be comparable to earlier assertions or those who create issues or industries similar to yours. The usefulness of financial statements is increased through comparability.
  • They must provide a classified format to enable more accurate and insightful analysis.
  • The team has to prepare the financial statements within the schedule. The importance and usefulness of these comments diminish when the team prepares them with excessive lag time.
  • They have to be generally acceptable and understandable. They accomplished this only by using specific "generally accepted accounting principles" throughout their compilation.
  • They should not be affected by the accountant's professional judgement and decision-making.

The Importance of Financial Statements

Let us read the importance of financial statements in different contexts:

To Management

The importance of financial statements in addressing the diverse interests of various parties, including administration, lenders, the general public, etc., is what gives them significance. Modern commercial enterprise management needs a practical and analytical strategy due to the growth in size and complexity of the variables that determine operations. The organisation also needs current, precise, and organised financial data for the objectives. Financial statements help the management in understanding the status, development, and future growth of the firm. The management can create policy recommendations and action plans if given the reasons for organisational outcomes. The management only informs some groups of its performance and justifies its actions and its survival.

Also read:What is an Accounting Voucher? Know Meaning and Types of Accounting Vouchers.

To the Shareholders

In the context of businesses, ownership and management are distinct. Shareholders cannot directly participate in daily corporate operations. The company has to use the financial statements to display the data of these efforts to investors at the yearly board meeting. These disclosures give shareholders information on the management's performance and quality, the company's income ability and financial stability. The potential shareholders could determine whether to further invest in the company by evaluating the financial statements to determine the firm's ability to make a profit, its current status and its future opportunities.

To Lenders/Creditors

The financial statements act as a valuable guideline for a firm's potential and current and future vendors. These parties can learn about a firm's cash, competitiveness, and long-term health status by critically analysing its financial statements. They could use this information to determine their plan of action moving forward.

To Employees

Employees are eligible for bonuses depending on the amount of revenue shown by an auditor's profit and loss statement. P & L accounts become quite significant to the employees as a result. The number of revenues and competitiveness realised are also quite important in pay negotiations.

To the Public

The world of business is sociable. Despite not having a direct connection to the business, many societal groups are curious about a company's state, direction and future. They include financial experts, attorneys, trade groups, labour unions, and financial media. Only by using these publicly available financial accounts can anyone evaluate, assess and make remarks on company enterprises.

To the National Economy

The rise and expansion of the business sector significantly affect a nation's economic development. Untrustworthy and dishonest corporation managements undermine the citizens' faith in joint-stock businesses, which is crucial for socio-economic development, and impede the nation's economic development. Financial statements help the public by giving them information that they can use to investigate and evaluate the firm's true value and prevent being taken advantage of by dishonest people.

Also read:Know the Basics of Managerial Accounting


Financial statements vary in how they highlight various aspects of financial success. Stakeholders and creditors assess a firm's financial position using the financial details available in its annual report. Financial reports are crucial for business managers. These statements allow managers to share the organisation’s progress with relevant parties by releasing financial figures. Even though this statement is useful in all types of businesses, you will find manylimitations of financial statements, which each company must keep in mind.
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I am a financial expert with extensive experience in accounting and financial analysis. My background includes in-depth knowledge of financial statements, accounting principles, and their implications for decision-making. I have successfully navigated the complexities of financial data to provide valuable insights for businesses and individuals.

Now, let's delve into the concepts mentioned in the article about the limitations and features of financial statements:

  1. Financial Statements Derived from Historical Costs: Financial statements initially record the value of a business, but the issue arises when valuations of assets and debts may change over time. This can be misleading, especially for assets like capital assets that fluctuate based on market prices.

  2. Not Adjusted for Inflation: Financial statements may appear inaccurate during periods of high inflation as they don't account for it. Long-term investments can be significantly affected, and quantities related to withholdings and net debt may seem lower than they actually are.

  3. Exclusion of Intangible Assets: Intangible assets, despite being essential for a company's value, are often not considered property in financial statements. This can undervalue a company, especially those heavily invested in building brand identity or developing intangible resources.

  4. Coverage of Specific Period: Financial statements provide a snapshot of a specific financial quarter, potentially leading to an inaccurate impression of a company's overall financial performance. It's advisable to study multiple successive financial statements for a more comprehensive understanding.

  5. Lack of Comparability: Financial statements from different companies may not be comparable due to varying accounting processes. It's essential to review disclaimers accompanying financial statements to identify potential discrepancies.

  6. Possibility of Fraud: Financial statements could be manipulated by management to show better results, especially when there's pressure to achieve certain outcomes, such as meeting sales targets for bonus incentives.

  7. Exclusion of Non-Financial Issues: Environmental and social aspects of a company's activities are not covered in financial statements. Even financially successful companies may face challenges in these non-financial areas.

  8. Verification of Financial Statements: Financial statements may not always undergo external audits, raising the risk of errors or misrepresentations. Audited financial statements provide credibility and assurance.

  9. Limited Predictive Value: Financial statements offer information about past performance, but their predictive value for the future is uncertain. Unexpected events or changes in market conditions can impact future outcomes.

Now, let's briefly touch on the features of financial statements mentioned in the latter part of the article:

  • Suitability for Target Users: Financial statements must be suitable for the intended audience, avoiding unnecessary or misleading information.

  • Complete and Accurate Details: They should provide accurate details about a company's performance, status, development, and aspirations.

  • Comparability and Classified Format: Financial statements should be comparable over time and with industry standards, and they should be presented in a classified format for better analysis.

  • Timeliness and Understandability: Timely preparation and adherence to generally accepted accounting principles enhance the usefulness of financial statements. They should be easily understandable by the intended audience.

In conclusion, understanding the limitations and features of financial statements is crucial for informed decision-making by various stakeholders, including management, shareholders, lenders, employees, the public, and the national economy.

Limitations of Financial Statements, Features and Importance (2024)
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