Financial Statements 101: How to Read and Use Your Balance Sheet

Assets are typically organized into liquid assets, or those that are cash or can be easily converted into cash, and non-liquid assets that cannot quickly be converted to cash, such as land, buildings, and equipment. They may also include intangible assets, such as franchise agreements, copyrights, and patents. Information and views provided are general in nature and are not legal, tax, or investment advice. Information and suggestions regarding business risk management and safeguards do not necessarily represent Wells Fargo’s business practices or experience. Please contact your own legal, tax, or financial advisors regarding your specific business needs before taking any action based upon this information. can be created with ease, even if you’re not an accounting professional. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a free 30-minute Introduction to Accounting course.

  • Balance sheets give an at-a-glance view of the assets and liabilities of the company and how they relate to one another.
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  • Amount of liabilities classified as other, due within one year or the normal operating cycle, if longer.
  • Liabilities are further broken down into current and long-term liabilities.

The balance sheet is one of the three main financial statements, along with the income statement and cash flow statement. A balance sheet is an important reference document for investors and stakeholders for assessing a company’s financial status. This document gives detailed information about the assets and liabilities for a given time.

Liabilities-to-Assets Ratio

The situation adds to evidence that the ties between FTX and Alameda are unusually close. For publicly traded companies, the balance sheet is found in the financial statement filed quarterly and annually with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Retained earnings are used to pay down debt or are otherwise reinvested in the business to take advantage of growth opportunities. While a business is in a growth phase, retained earnings are typically used to fund expansion rather than paid out as dividends to shareholders. Current assets are cash and those items that are likely to become cash in one year or less, such as inventory, accounts receivable , and notes receivable . Preparing balance sheets can help to attract investors by painting a clear picture of your small business financials. Although the balance sheet represents a moment frozen in time, most balance sheets will also include data from the previous year to facilitate comparison and see how your practice is doing over time.

What are the 3 types of balance sheets?

  • Comparative Balance Sheets.
  • Vertical Balance Sheets.
  • Horizontal Balance Sheets.

A balance sheet is also always in balance, where the value of the assets equals the combined value of the liabilities and shareholders’ equity. Assets are what a company uses to operate its business, while its liabilities and equity are two sources that support these assets.

What Can You Tell From Looking at a Company’s Balance Sheet?

This line item contains all debt owed by the company that must be paid in more than one year. This line item contains all debt owed by the company that must be paid within the next year. This line item includes any supplier invoices that have already been paid but for which the related service has not yet been consumed . Asset accounts will be noted in descending order of maturity, while liabilities will be arranged in ascending order.

What are the 3 main things found on a balance sheet?

A company's balance sheet provides a tremendous amount of insight into its solvency and business dealings. 1 A balance sheet consists of three primary sections: assets, liabilities, and equity.

For internally generated intangible assets, IFRS require that costs incurred during the research phase must be expensed. Under IFRS, property used to earn rental income or capital appreciation is considered to be an investment property. IFRS provide companies with the choice to report an investment property using either a historical cost model or a fair value model.


They are normally found as a line item on the top of the balance sheet asset. Thebalance sheet accountsthat constitute the major elements of the financial document are – assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ equity. The balance sheet includes many metrics, some of which could be negative. Having negative shareholders’ equity could mean that a company is unable to meet its financial obligations and is insolvent. With balance sheet data, you can evaluate factors such as your ability to meet financial obligations and how effectively you use credit to finance your operations .

  • If the shareholder’s equity is positive, then the company has enough assets to pay off its liabilities.
  • In this balance sheet, accounts are listed from least liquid to most liquid .
  • Balance sheets, like all financial statements, will have minor differences between organizations and industries.
  • The balance sheet is one of the three main financial statements, along with the income statement and cash flow statement.
  • On a balance sheet, assets are listed in categories, based on how quickly they are expected to be turned into cash, sold or consumed.
  • That’s particularly true with inventories that have been held for a long time, to ensure assets aren’t overinflated.

Then liabilities and equity continue from the most immediate liability to be paid to the least i.e. long-term debt such as mortgages and owner’s equity at the very bottom. Total assets is calculated as the sum of all short-term, long-term, and other assets. Total liabilities is calculated as the sum of all short-term, long-term and other liabilities.

Deferred tax liability is the amount of taxes that accrued but will not be paid for another year. Besides timing, this figure reconciles differences between requirements for financial reporting and the way tax is assessed, such as depreciation calculations. Current portion of long-term debt is the portion of a long-term debt due within the next 12 months. For example, if a company has a 10 years left on a loan to pay for its warehouse, 1 year is a current liability and 9 years is a long-term liability. Fixed assets include land, machinery, equipment, buildings, and other durable, generally capital-intensive assets.

  • Balance sheets should also be compared with those of other businesses in the same industry since different industries have unique approaches to financing.
  • These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts.
  • A balance sheet depicts many accounts, categorized under assets and liabilities.
  • Customer prepayments is money received by a customer before the service has been provided or product delivered.
  • A balance sheet, at its core, shows the liquidity and the theoretical value of the business.
  • This may include an allowance for doubtful accounts as some customers may not pay what they owe.

Comparing two or more balance sheets from different points in time can also show how a business has grown. Assets, liabilities and ownership equity are listed as of a specific date, such as the end of its financial year. A balance sheet is often described as a “snapshot of a company’s financial condition”. Of the four basic financial statements, the balance sheet is the only statement which applies to a single point in time of a business’s calendar year. Most companies opt for either quarterly or annual financial statements. Based on the requirement, the details of the assets and liabilities are arranged, organized, and presented. Then, the firms compile the information to calculate the shareholders’ equity.

Total liabilities and owners’ equity are totaled at the bottom of the right side of the balance sheet. Finally, total assets are tabulated at the bottom of the assets section of the balance sheet. Just like assets, you’ll classify them as current liabilities and non-current liabilities . These are also known as short-term liabilities and long-term liabilities. Long-term assets (or non-current assets), on the other hand, are things you don’t plan to convert to cash within a year.

Video on Balance Sheet

Important ratios that use information from a balance sheet can be categorized as liquidity ratios, solvency ratios, financial strength ratios, and activity ratios. Liquidity and solvency ratios show how well a company can pay off its debts and obligations with existing assets. Financial strength ratios, such as the working capital and debt-to-equity ratios, provide information on how well the company can meet its obligations and how the obligations are leveraged.