Introduction to Financial Management

Meaning of Financial Management :
              The primary task of a Chartered Accountant is to deal with funds, 'Management of Funds' is an important aspect of financial management in a business undertaking or any other institution like hospital, art society, and so on. The term 'Financial Management' has been defined differently by different authors.
             According to Solomon "Financial Management is concerned with the efficient use of an important economic resource, namely capital funds."  Phillippatus has given a more elaborate definition of the term, as , "Financial Management, is concerned with the managerial decisions that results in the  acquisition and financing of short  and long term credits for the firm."  Thus, it deals with the situations that require selection of specific problem of size and growth of an enterprise. The analysis of these decisions is based on the expected inflows and outflows of funds and their effect on managerial objectives. The most acceptable definition of financial management is that given by S.C.Kuchhal as, "Financial management deals with procurement of funds and their effective utilisation in the business." 

Thus, there are 2 basic aspects of financial management :
1) procurement of funds :
            As funds can be obtained from different sources thus, their procurement is always considered as a complex problem by business concerns. These funds procured from different sources have different characteristics in terms of risk, cost and control that a manager must consider while procuring funds.  The funds should be procured at minimum cost, at a balanced risk and control factors.
            Funds raised by issue of equity shares are the best from risk point of view for the company, as it has no repayment liability except on winding up of the company, but from cost point of view, it is most expensive, as dividend expectations of shareholders are higher than prevailing interest rates and dividends are appropriation of profits and not allowed as expense under the income tax act. The issue of new equity shares may dilute the control of the existing shareholders.
            Debentures are comparatively cheaper since the interest is paid out of profits before tax. But, they entail a high degree of risk since they have to be repaid as per the terms of agreement; also, the interest payment has to be made whether or not the company makes profits.
            Funds can also be procured from banks and financial institutions, they provide funds subject to certain restrictive covenants. These covenants restrict freedom of the borrower to raise loans from other sources. The reform process is also moving in direction of a closer monitoring of 'end use' of resources mobilised through capital markets. Such restrictions are essential for the safety of funds provided by institutions and investors. There are other financial instruments used for raising finance  e.g. commercial paper, deep discount bonds, etc. The finance manager has to balance the availability of funds and the restrictive provisions tied with such funds resulting in lack of flexibility.
            In the globalised competitive scenario, it is not enough to depend on available ways of finance but resource mobilisation is to be undertaken through innovative ways or financial products that may meet the needs of investors. Multiple option convertible bonds can be sighted as an example, funds can be raised indigenously as also from abroad. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Foreign Institutional Investors (FII) are two major sources of finance from abroad along with American Depository Receipts (ADR's) and Global Depository Receipts (GDR's). The mechanism of procuring funds is to be modified in the light of requirements of foreign investors. Procurement of funds inter alia includes :

- Identification of sources of finance
- Determination of finance mix
- Raising of funds
- Division of profits between dividends and retention of profits i.e. internal fund generation.
2) effective use of such funds :
The finance manager is also responsible for effective utilization of funds. He must point out situations where funds are kept idle or are used improperly. All funds are procured at a certain cost and after entailing a certain amount of risk. If the funds are not utilised in the manner so that they generate an income higher than cost of procurement, there is no meaning in running the business. It is an important consideration in dividend decisions also, thus, it is crucial to employ funds properly and profitably. The funds are to be employed in the manner so that the company can produce at its optimum level without endangering its financial solvency. Thus, financial implications of each decision to invest in fixed assets are to be properly analysed.  For this, the finance manager must possess sound knowledge of techniques of capital budgeting and must keep in view the need of adequate working capital and ensure that while firms enjoy an optimum level of working capital they do not keep too much funds blocked in inventories, book debts, cash, etc.
        Fixed assets are to financed from medium or long term funds, and not short term funds, as fixed assets cannot be sold in short term i.e. within a year, also a large amount of funds would be blocked in stock in hand as the company cannot immediately sell its finished goods.

Scope of financial management :
            A sound financial management  is essential in all type of financial organization - whether profit oriented or not, where funds are involved and also in a centrally planned economy as also in a capitalist set-up. Firms, as per the commercial history, have not liquidated because their technology was obsolete or their products had no or low demand or due to any other factor, but due to lack of financial management. Even in boom period, when a company makes high profits, there is danger of liquidation, due to bad financial management. The main cause of liquidation of such companies is over-trading or over-expanding without an adequate financial base.
          Financial management optimises the output from the given input of funds and attempts to use the funds in a most productive manner. In a country like India, where resources are scarce and demand on funds are many, the need for proper financial management is enormous. If proper techniques are used most of the enterprises can reduce their capital employed and improve return on investment. Thus, as men and machine are properly managed, finances are also to be well managed.
        In newly started companies, it is important to have sound financial management, as it ensures their survival, often such companies ignores financial management at their own peril. Even a simple act, like depositing the cheques on the day of their receipt is not performed. Such organisations pay heavy interest charges on borrowed funds, but are tardy in realising their own debtors. This is due to the fact they lack realisation of the concept of time value of money, it is not appreciated that each value of rupee has to be made use of and that it has a direct cost of utilisation. It must be realised that keeping rupee idle even for a day, results into losses. A non-profit organisation may not be keen to make profit, traditionally, but it does need to cut down its cost and use the funds at its disposal to their optimum capacity. A sound sense of financial management has to be cultivated among our bureaucrats, administrators, engineers, educationists and public at large. Unless this is done, colossal wastage of the capital resources cannot be arrested.

Objectives of financial management :
              Efficient financial management requires existence of some objectives or goals because judgment as to whether or not a financial decision is efficient is to be made in light of some objective. The two main objectives of financial management are :

1) Profit Maximisation :
It is traditionally being argued, that the objective of a company is to earn profit, hence the objective of financial management is profit maximisation. Thus, each alternative, is to be seen by the finance manager from the view point of profit maximisation. But, it cannot be the only objective of a company, it is at best a limited objective else a number of problems would arise. Some of them are :

a)   The term profit is vague and does not clarify what exactly it means. It conveys different meaning to different people.

b)    Profit maximisation has to be attempted with a realisation of risks involved. There is direct relation between risk and profit; higher the risk, higher is the profit. For maximising profit, risk is altogether ignored, implying that finance manager accepts highly risky proposals also. Practically, risk is a very important factor to be balanced with profit objective.

c)   Profit maximisation is an objective not taking into account the time pattern of returns.
E.g. Proposal X gives returns higher than that by proposal Y but, the time period is say, 10 years and 7 years respectively. Thus, the overall profit is only considered not the time period, nor the flow of profit.

d)   Profit maximisation as an objective is too narrow, it fails to take into account the social considerations and obligations to various interests of workers, consumers, society, as well as ethical trade practices. Ignoring these factors, a company cannot survive for long. Profit maximisation at the cost of social and moral obligations is a short sighted policy.

2) Wealth maximisation :
              The companies having profit maximisation as its objective, may adopt policies yielding exorbitant profits in the short run which are unhealthy for the growth, survival and overall interests of the business. A company may not undertake planned and prescribed shut-downs of the plant for maintenance, and so on for maximising profits in the short run. Thus, the objective of a firm should be to maximise its value or wealth.
              According to Van Horne, "Value of a firm is represented by the market price of the company's common stock.......the market price of a firm's stock represents the focal judgment of all market participants as to what the value of the particular firm is. It takes into account present as also prospective future earnings per share, the timing and risk of these earning, the dividend policy of the firm and many other factors having a bearing on the market price of stock. The market price serves as a performance index or report card of the firm's progress. It indicates how well management is doing on behalf of stockholders." Share prices in the share market, at a given point of time, are the result of a mixture of many factors, as general economic outlook, particular outlook of the companies under consideration, technical factors and even mass psychology, but, taken on a long term basis, they reflect the value, which various parties, put on the company.
Normally this value is a function, of :
- the likely rate of earnings per share of the company; and
- the capitalisation rate.

The likely rate of earnings per share (EPS) depends upon the assessment as to the profitably a company is going to operate in the future or what it is likely to earn against each of its ordinary shares.
            The capitalisation rate reflects the liking of the investors of a company. If a company earns a high rate of earnings per share through its risky operations or risky financing pattern, the investors will not look upon its share with favour. To that extent, the market value of the shares of such a company will be low. An easy way to determine the capitalisation rate is to start with fixed deposit interest rate of banks, investor would want a higher return if he invests in shares, as the risk increases. How much higher return is expected, depends on the risks involved in the particular share which in turn depends on company policies, past records, type of business and confidence commanded by the management. Thus, capitalisation rate is the cumulative result of the assessment of the various shareholders regarding the risk and other qualitative factors of a company. If a company invests its funds in risky ventures, the investors will put in their money if they get higher return as compared to that from a low risk share.
            The market value of a share is thus, a function of earnings per share and capitalisation rate.  Since the profit maximisation criteria cannot be applied in real world situations because of its technical limitation the finance manager of a company has to ensure that his decisions are such that the market value of the shares of the company is maximum in the long run. This implies that the financial policy has to be such that it optimises the EPS, keeping in view the risk and other factors. Thus, wealth maximisation is a better objective for a commercial undertaking as compared to return and risk.
            There is a growing emphasis on social and other obligations of an enterprise. It cannot be denied that in the case of undertakings, especially those in the public sector, the question of wealth maximisation is to be seen in context of social and other obligations of the enterprise.
            It must be understood that financial decision making is related to the objectives of the business. The finance manager has to ensure that there is a positive impact of each financial decision on the furtherance of the business objectives. One of the main objective of an undertaking may be to "progressively build up the capability to undertake the design and development of aircraft engines, helicopters, etc." A finance manager in such cases will allocate funds in a way that this objective is achieved although such an allocation may not necessarily maximise wealth.

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