Reporting Period Meaning
A reporting period is a month, quarter, or a year for which the financial statement of an organization is prepared for external use uniformly over some time so that the financial statements are comparable and understandable by the general public or the user of the financial statements.
Table of contents
Table of contents
Types of the Reporting Period
A reporting period generally can be prepared for the following periods-
#1 – Monthly Reporting Period
For entities with a rapidly changing environment, preparing a control system that provides regular details of the financial results and financial position is necessary.
#2 – Quarterly Reporting Period
For industries having a seasonal nature, their market is generally for a specific quarter. Hence, once the quarter is over, it becomes necessary to evaluate the financial position and results. For such an industry, a quarterly financial statement is prepared to make the financial statementsFinancial StatementsFinancial statements are written reports prepared by a company's management to present the company's financial affairs over a given period (quarter, six monthly or yearly). These statements, which include the Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Cash Flows, and Shareholders Equity Statement, must be prepared in accordance with prescribed and standardized accounting standards to ensure uniformity in reporting at all levels. more relevant and understandable to the users.
#3 – Yearly Reporting Period
Every industry prepares a yearly financial statement to know the financial results for the whole year and financial positions. Hence, all the companies prepare yearly or annual financial statements regardless of whether they prepare quarterly or monthly financial statements.
Yearly financial statements are prepared for the same period uniformly, from 1st April to 31st march or from 1st January to 31st December.
Examples of Reporting Period
- A very famous company in New York called A ltd., listed on the New York stock exchange with an annual sales growth of $150,000,000, the board of directorsBoard Of DirectorsBoard of Directors (BOD) refers to a corporate body comprising a group of elected people who represent the interest of a company’s stockholders. The board forms the top layer of the hierarchy and focuses on ensuring that the company efficiently achieves its goals. had decided to issue financial statements having a monthly reporting period exclusively for its internal purposes. So, in this case, the company has a monthly reporting period.
- As per the Securities exchange commission(SEC), every company listed and publicly tradedPublicly TradedPublicly Traded Companies, also called Publicly Listed Companies, are the Companies which list their shares on the public stock exchange allowing the trading of shares to the common public. It means that anybody can sell or buy these companies’ shares from the open market. on any stock exchange is compulsorily required to issue a quarterly financial statement within the specified period, non-following of which may lead to huge penalties and fines. This is to ensure that the companies on whom the general public is dependent on generating their income should disclose their quarterly performance to the people to make their investment decisions wisely.
- As per IFRS 1, preparation of financial statements states that every company for which IFRS is compulsory must issue their general purpose financial statementsGeneral Purpose Financial StatementsGeneral-purpose financial statements are issued by the management at regular intervals. Such statements help investors and creditors interpret the business and company's financial condition to make informed investment decisions. with an annual reportingAnnual ReportingAn annual report is a document that a corporation publishes for its internal and external stakeholders to describe the company's performance, financial information, and disclosures related to its operations. Over time, these reports have become legal and regulatory requirements. period.
The various advantages are as follows:
- Most of the entities work on a calendar basis. Hence it is required to know its financial results, i.e., Profit or loss for the period, and financial position, i.e., assets and liabilities as of that date, for which an annual reporting period is useful.
- A uniform reporting period is advantageous for the users of the financial statementsUsers Of The Financial StatementsFinancial statements prepared by the Companies are used by different categories of individuals and corporates on the basis of their relevancy to the respective parties. The most common users to the financial statements are Management of the Company, Investors, Customers, Competitors, Government and Government Agencies, Employees, Investment Analysts, Lenders, Rating Agency and Suppliers. for the general public (as the case may be) for comparison.
- The comparison could be made either with the previous period of the same company or with the same period as another company, with the same reporting of the whole industry.
- It plays a vital role in determining the profit and loss accountProfit And Loss AccountThe Profit & Loss account, also known as the Income statement, is a financial statement that summarizes an organization's revenue and costs incurred during the financial period and is indicative of the company's financial performance by showing whether the company made a profit or incurred losses during that period. amounts, Balance sheet, cash flow statementCash Flow StatementA Statement of Cash Flow is an accounting document that tracks the incoming and outgoing cash and cash equivalents from a business. set. The profit and loss account is prepared for the year ended on the reporting date and balance sheet, and cash flow statements are prepared as on the reporting date.
- There are two methods of accountingMethods Of AccountingAccounting methods define the set of rules and procedure that an organization must adhere to while recording the business revenue and expenditure. Cash accounting and accrual accounting are the two significant accounting methods. the financial statement, cash system and mercantile systems. Where financial statements are prepared on a cash basis of accounting, it is taken as a base for determining the amounts of the various ledgers since only the cash received or paid up to the reporting date is taken into consideration. When financial statements are prepared on an accrual basis, it is taken as the base for determining all the relevant ledgersLedgersLedger in accounting records and processes a firm’s financial data, taken from journal entries. This becomes an important financial record for future reference. It is used for creating financial statements. It is also known as the second book of entry. that have accrued up to the reporting period to be included in financial statements.
- It has been stated that if there is a change in the period compared to the previous reporting period, specific procedures are to be followed to be shown in the financial statements to make them understandable to the users of the financial statements.
Though it is useful in the ways mentioned above, there are certain disadvantages also. The various disadvantages are as follows:
- It brings us a sort of rigidity to the financial statements since it is highly arbitrary. Still, the business has to use the reporting period as per IAS1 on an annual basis.
- Few countries follow this as per the calendar year, from 1st January to 31st December, while others follow their reporting period starting from 1st April and ending on 31st. Hence the purpose of uniformity of reporting period breaks here.
- For companies in some countries, this period is not the calendar year. Hence, even though financial statements are prepared for the reporting period, it doesn’t solve the purpose of finding the results for every calendar year. They need to re-compute their financial results.
- If there is a change in the reporting period, there are cumbersome and tedious procedures, as mentioned in IFRS1, to be followed, which involve huge time, labor, and money, which doesn’t make much sense.
Any of the following reasons must be fulfilled to change the reporting period.
- For better preparation and presentation of financial statements;
- Required by the specific statute or act;
Hence if any of the above reasons are fulfilled, along with its update in notes of the financial statements, specific reporting procedures, as mentioned in relevant IFRS, are to be followed to make the financial statements understandable.
Hence, it concludes that even though there are a few disadvantages, it becomes beneficial for the general public to have a common reporting period to give the financial statements of every entity comparable, useful, uniform, and understandable.
This article has been a guide to the Reporting Period and its meaning. Here we discuss types of reporting periods and examples, advantages, and disadvantages. You can learn more from the following accounting articles –