Due Diligence

Updated on April 12, 2024
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Meaning of Due Diligence

Due diligence is a thorough examination of information and strict adherence to the applicable rules and regulations. It ensures asset protection as well as the avoidance of malpractices and conflicts.

Careful analysis is a critical component of all investment decisions. Key stakeholders will thoroughly investigate all the facts presented about investment opportunities to ascertain their credibility. This is a method for investors to ensure that their investment aligns with what they think it is.

Key Takeaways

  • Due diligence refers to both collection and verification of relevant information before making an investment agreement.
  • Various categories include financial, legal, operational, technical, and commercial due diligence.
  • The process shields investors from investment frauds and opportunities that may not align with their corporate principles and goals. It assists investors in selecting rewarding options.
  • While the diligent investigation process may vary depending on the circumstances, the experts performing it should be aware of and adhere to its aims and objectives.

Why Investors Conduct Due Diligence?

The due diligence process provides investors with information on both advantages and disadvantages surrounding the investment option. When an investor or analyst performs analysis on a stock, there are several factors to consider. It is not confined to the entities financial performance; instead, market dynamics is very crucial. Also, a single piece of information about the company can influence the share price. Hence, the process must include a background study of the company, products/services, market, customer base, stock market performance/history, etc.

It is natural for specific investment options to look lucrative at first but turn out to be unsuccessful in the long run. Conversely, some alternatives may appear unappealing at first but turn out to be a high-return investment in the long run. This drives investors to be prudent and uses the diligence process as a verification tool to run an investigation focusing on tangible and intangible aspects.

A complete understanding of an investment’s practical and potential benefits and liabilities is in the picture during the analysis process. In the past, we might conclude that investors relied heavily on financial data, with little regard for intangible elements. However, the intangible aspect of a possible investment choice might have an immense influence on assessing the long-term performance. Since tangible assetsTangible AssetsTangible assets are assets with significant value and are available in physical form. It means any asset that can be touched and felt could be labeled a tangible one with a long-term valuation.read more are more easily quantifiable, it is frequently in use to evaluate a proposed deal. Ascertaining the actual worth of an investment is not complete without examining the intangible assetsIntangible AssetsIntangible Assets are the identifiable assets which do not have a physical existence, i.e., you can't touch them, like goodwill, patents, copyrights, & franchise etc. They are considered as long-term or long-living assets as the Company utilizes them for over a year. read more.

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How Does Due Diligence in Finance Works?

The process primarily carries out the credibility check of the information involved. It can be the information presented by the seller of an asset or real estate agent, fund manager or financial reports submitted by the subsidiary companySubsidiary CompanyA subsidiary company is controlled by another company, better known as a parent or holding company. The control is exerted through ownership of more than 50% of the voting stock of the subsidiary. Subsidiaries are either set up or acquired by the controlling company.read more in the M&A.

According to IRS, as per the generalized notion of standard procedure for diligence process, paid preparers who prepare tax returns of clients must do the following:

When paid preparers prepare a tax return or return claiming tax credits, they must fulfill four standards.

  • Calculate the credits based on the facts
  • Complete and submit the required forms
  • Keep records
  • Ask all the right questions

According to SEC, an adviser performing an audit on behalf of its client must determine whether alternative investmentsAlternative InvestmentsAlternative investments refer to investments made in assets classified as non-traditional investment vehicles.read more features are in:

  • Accordance with client’s investment objectives
  • Conformity with the investment principles and strategies

Some of the essential focus areas of investment advisers are the following:

Due Diligence Services & Processes

The services and processes vary according to the interest of investors or industry. However, we can form a generalized view.

Due Diligence

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Formation of due diligence team: The team includes financial, operational and legal professionals with profound knowledge and industrial expertise.

Analyze and follow objectives and goals of due diligence: Basic understanding of the objectives and goals will help the team set focus areas based on the investor’s requisites.

Due diligence process focus areas:

  1. Operational: The process primarily checks for flaws in the business operations.
  2. Legal: In legal, the process focus on verifying the documents of intellectual properties, lawsuits, contingent liabilities and overall legal aspects of the entity.
  3. Financial: The process focuses on verifying and analyzing financial statements like the entity’s balance sheetBalance SheetA balance sheet is one of the financial statements of a company that presents the shareholders' equity, liabilities, and assets of the company at a specific point in time. It is based on the accounting equation that states that the sum of the total liabilities and the owner's capital equals the total assets of the company.read more. Typically this includes the data from previous fiscal years and future projections to conduct trend analysisTrend AnalysisTrend analysis is an analysis of the company's trend by comparing its financial statements to analyze the market trend or analysis of the future based on past performance results, and it is an attempt to make the best decisions based on the results of the analysis done.read more.
  4. Commercial: It focuses on market studies, products and services, customers and so on.

Risk analysis: Understanding the risks associated with investing in general and specific investment options is crucial. This examination should involve a review of existing and prospective risk factors affecting the business. Of course, every investment has some risk, but it is up to investors to identify and reduce that risk.

Due diligence report: All the findings of the examination process get compiled and documented in the form of a report for future use.

Due Diligence Example

The due diligence process often encompasses most factors influencing the investment options. Therefore, we can portray an example based on the stock that has outperformed the average during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peloton Interactive Inc., incorporated in the year 2012, caters to the exercise equipment industry. Peloton became a public company in September 2019 through IPO. The peloton stock prize saw a massive upsurge in 2020 due to Covid 19 pandemic, which induced their sales and revenue growth (August 31, 2020: share price USD 76.67, October 15, 2020: share price USD 136.43). However, the stock price suffered significantly during November 2020 due to Pfizer’s vaccine-trial news (November 09, 2020: share price USD 100.01). Then again, in January 2021 share price climbed up, reaching USD 167.42 on January 13. However, the loosening of lockdown measures and safety recall issues associated with cost surge eating profit influenced the downward trend in share price (May 05, 2021: share price USD 82.62).

In the absence of careful analysis, investors may invest hugely in Peloton stocks by seeing the massive momentum in January 2021. However, the analysis process on Peloton stock reveals its high risk and volatile nature. Therefore, it may help investors with short term outlook to not invest in Peloton stocks.

Frequently Ask Questions (FAQs)

What is due diligence example?

In simple words, we can say that checking over the features like ingredients, date of manufacturing on the product label and online product reviews before making a purchase is an example.

What is the definition of due diligence?

It is a procedure manifesting reasonable care enabling the verification of information under consideration. For instance, in the case of an asset acquisition, it includes a thorough examination of the asset purchase agreement.

What is the purpose of due diligence?

It intends to analyze the existing data and collect more information in order to correctly identify the risk factors connected with a purchase or investment decision. Thus, it plays a crucial role in the risk assessment programs and spots potential or ongoing fraud.

This has been a guide to Due Diligence and its Meaning. Here we discuss how due diligence works in finance along with examples, services and processes. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –