lenders-240In today’s tough economy, the availability of business credit remains tight. Financial institutions are cautious and highly skeptical of new lending requests. In addition to increased scrutiny regarding new relationships, bankers are also increasingly turning their focus to existing customers. With little or no notice, lenders are closing business credit lines or reducing the amount of available credit.

Banks are particularly focused on industry sectors that have borne the brunt of the recent recession, such as real estate (commercial as well as residential), construction, print media, restaurants, and retail. Companies in these sectors, as well as businesses in general, should be prepared to respond to changes in their lender’s reporting requirements.

In order to receive or continue to receive credit from banks, small businesses should be aware of the types of financial statements that a bank may request:

Compiled statements-Provide no assurance that the financial statements are accurate, complete and comply with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

Reviewed statements- Provide limited assurance that the financial statements are accurate. Typically, your accountant will review the statements to ensure that obvious errors or misstatements are corrected.

Audited statements- Provide the highest level of assurance that the documents fairly present the company’s financial performance consistent with GAAP.

In the past, compiled financial statements were enough. But today, reviewed statements may be required. Consequently, reviewed statements may also be replaced with a request for audited statements. As the level of assurance required by the lender increases, so too can the associated cost to prepare statements. A close partnership between your company’s accounting department and Filler & Associates is crucial to minimizing the cost and lead time associated with preparing financial statements.

In addition to the type of statements banks are requesting, the frequency of statement production is also changing. Interim statements that summarize a reporting period of less than a full financial year are also being requested.

Banks also take into account the following aspects of request for financial statements:

Significant customer reporting – If revenue is concentrated in a limited number of customers, banks will often ask for ad-hoc reports detailing the status of accounts receivable, unbilled revenue, as well as the overall profitability of the relationship.

Timely submission and confident presentation – Any undue delay in the production of financial statements can give bankers pause. Planning ahead can ensure the timely submission of requested documentation. Regular meetings with Filler & Associates to discuss trends and the overall accounting processes can serve as a dress rehearsal for meetings with the bank.

If used appropriately, the burden of additional reporting can actually be used as a valuable financial management tool. By embracing the fact that financial statements are required, small businesses actually improve their financial performance. Being required to produce more frequent and complex financial statements can result in a company having information at its fingertips that it may not have previously possessed. Access to credit is crucial to financial success, and businesses must be prepared to satisfy bankers’ requests before they are made.