Chapter 2. The Role of Financial Analysis

Historically, the primary purpose of the accounting department has been to process transactions: billings to customers, payments to suppliers, and the like. These are mundane but crucial activities that are unseen by the majority of company employees, but still necessary to an organization’s smooth operations. However, the role of the accounting staff has gradually changed as companies encounter greater competition from organizations throughout the world. Now, a company’s management needs advice as well as a smooth transaction flow. Accordingly, the controller is being called on not only to fulfill the traditional transaction processing role, but also to continually review company operations, evaluate investments, report problems and related recommendations to management, and fulfill requests by the management team for special investigations. All of these new tasks can be considered financial analysis, for they require the application of financial review methods to a company’s operational and investment activities.

There are several types of financial analysis. One is the continuing review and reporting of a standard set of measures that give management a good view of the state of company operations. To conduct this type of analysis, a controller should review all key company operations, consult the literature for examples of adequate measures that will become telltale indicators of operational problems, develop a timetable and procedure ...

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