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How to Read and Understand Financial Statements: A Guide for Singapore Businesses

27 May 2024

Editor: ET

Understanding financial statements is crucial for making informed business decisions. For business owners in Singapore, being able to read and interpret these statements can significantly impact the success and growth of your enterprise.

This article, with insights from, provides a comprehensive guide on how to read and understand financial statements.

What are Financial Statements?

Financial statements are formal records of a company’s financial activities and position. They provide a summary of how the business is performing financially and are essential for stakeholders, including investors, creditors, and management.

Key Components of Financial Statements

1. Income Statement

The income statement, also known as the profit and loss statement, shows the company’s revenues and expenses over a specific period. It provides insights into the business’s profitability.

Key Elements:

  • Revenue: Total income earned from sales and other operations.

  • Expenses: Costs incurred in earning the revenue.

  • Net Profit: The difference between revenue and expenses, indicating the company’s profit or loss. Insight: Regularly reviewing the income statement helps identify trends in profitability and areas where cost management may be needed.

2. Balance Sheet

The balance sheet provides a snapshot of the company’s financial position at a specific point in time. It details the company’s assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ equity.

Key Elements:

  • Assets: Resources owned by the company (e.g., cash, inventory, property).

  • Liabilities: Obligations owed to outsiders (e.g., loans, accounts payable).

  • Equity: The owners’ interest in the company, calculated as Assets minus Liabilities.

Tip from Understanding the balance sheet is crucial for assessing the company’s liquidity, solvency, and overall financial health.

3. Cash Flow Statement

The cash flow statement shows the inflows and outflows of cash over a period. It is divided into three sections: operating activities, investing activities, and financing activities.

Key Elements:

  • Operating Activities: Cash generated or used in core business operations.

  • Investing Activities: Cash used in or generated from investments in assets.

  • Financing Activities: Cash received from or paid to investors and creditors. Advice: Monitoring the cash flow statement ensures that the company maintains sufficient cash to meet its obligations and invest in growth opportunities.

How to Analyze Financial Statements

1. Trend Analysis

Compare financial statements over multiple periods to identify trends in revenue, expenses, and profitability. This helps in understanding the company’s growth trajectory and operational efficiency. Tip: Use financial ratios to assess performance metrics such as profit margins, return on assets, and current ratios.

2. Ratio Analysis

Financial ratios provide a quantitative analysis of financial statements, offering insights into various aspects of the company’s performance and financial health.

Key Ratios:

  • Liquidity Ratios: Measure the company’s ability to meet short-term obligations (e.g., current ratio, quick ratio).

  • Profitability Ratios: Assess the company’s ability to generate profit (e.g., gross profit margin, net profit margin).

  • Solvency Ratios: Evaluate the company’s long-term financial stability (e.g., debt-to-equity ratio).

Recommendation from Regularly perform ratio analysis to monitor financial health and make informed strategic decisions.

Reading and understanding financial statements is essential for business owners in Singapore. These documents provide critical insights into the financial performance and position of your company, enabling you to make informed decisions and drive growth. For expert guidance on financial statement analysis and other business advisory services, visit

About offers comprehensive business advisory services, helping Singapore businesses navigate financial complexities and achieve sustainable growth.

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