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How to prepare monthly management accounts

Preparing management accounts is a valuable exercise for organisations of all sizes and across all sectors. It helps managers gain business-wide insights into their past, present and future financial position. This article gives an overview of how to produce monthly management accounts and what is generally included in management accounts.

What are monthly management accounts?

Management accounting is the process of preparing and producing the financial reports for managers and business owners. These reports are usually produced on a monthly or quarterly basis. They can be more personalised to your individual organisation’s requirements than the formal year-end financial reporting process.

Most companies produce management accounts because they need to examine the financial health of the organisation. Preparing monthly management accounts is good business practice. They give a snapshot of your business position and can act as a benchmark to compare past and future performance.

Up-to-date, accurate business information is vital to sustainable growth. Leadership teams need to make decisions based on evidence, they can’t simply rely on their intuition. They need facts and figures to determine the reasons behind underlying problems, to assess the different options for taking action and, if necessary, changing course.

That’s why it’s also important that finance teams produce management reports as soon as possible after the end of each month. They’re providing key information that will be discussed in board meetings and used to plan business strategy. Monthly management reports also inform sales targets and budgets and enable managers to re-allocate resources effectively.

How are management accounts different from statutory accounts?

It’s a legal requirement for limited companies in the UK to submit their statutory accounts to Companies House every year. Management accounts, on the other hand, are for internal use and there is no set format. In fact, they are most useful when they are tailored to the needs of an individual business and cover what is most important to the leadership team.

However, even management accounts are usually prepared on a regular and consistent basis so managers can monitor performance over time.

What’s included in management accounts?

There’s no set format for producing monthly management accounts. What’s included will depend on the lifecycle stage of the business, its sector, goals and strategy. Generally, as a minimum, finance teams will produce management accounts that cover the organisation’s:

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

Your KPIs are likely to include analysis by region, country, department, product line and even individual team members. You may also prepare a cost of sales report showing expenses such as materials, production and marketing costs, some companies want reports detailing customer billing/monthly subscriptions.

Profit and loss statement

This details revenues, costs and expenses. This is all key information to help managers understand the company’s current financial position. It helps them answer questions such as:

  • Are we making money?
  • How are we performing against budget?
  • How does our current financial position compare with the same period last year?

Cash position

Even a profitable company can go out of business if it runs out of cash to pay the bills. Visibility of your cash position (on at least a monthly basis) will help inform decisions around budgets, investments and funding or borrowing needs.

Balance sheet

The balance sheet is a snapshot of the health of your business at a particular point in time. It normally consists of:

  • Assets: fixed assets, current assets, stock, debtors, cash, and prepayments
  • Current liabilities: creditors, taxes, other liabilities
  • Sources of finance: debt, net assets, and shareholders’ funds.

How to prepare your monthly management accounts

You are not bound to follow any set procedures, rules or processes when preparing management accounts. However, it is good practice to be consistent to enable historical comparisons. Management reports are of most value when they contain details pertinent to the organisation and the information is produced in a user-friendly, accessible format for use by colleagues across the business.

An executive summary on the first page of your management accounts can be particularly helpful. This highlights the important monthly facts and figures, any significant changes or red flags. For example, it may include net profit margins, turnover ratio, or losses incurred. It may also include a department summary, so leaders can monitor and compare performance across the business.  

How can businesses benefit from monthly management accounts? 

Preparing accurate and timely monthly management accounts brings valuable benefits across the business, not just in the finance team. The insights from these reports are key to running and monitoring your business. For example they:

  • Provide insights into effective management, resource planning and strategy
  • Enable managers to assess if goals and targets are being met
  • Help with price modelling and product profitability
  • Give a deep understanding of where cash is being spent, business assets and debt position
  • Inform budgeting, financial forecasting and cost analysis
  • Provide reassurance to banks and investors that you have a firm grasp of your business.

 

Find out more about AccountsIQ’s advanced management accounting and reporting capabilities.