Flux Analysis in Accounting: What is (Completed 2024 Guide)

You may have heard about flow analysis in various places or have it personally recommended to you. But what is flow analysis in accounting and why is it important? If you want to learn all this, keep reading. In the next post we will explain it to you in a simple way, with examples and step by step.

What is a flux analysis in accounting?

A flow analysis in accounting is a tool used to measure changes in account balances between two time periods. It can be carried out monthly, quarterly or annually, depending on the metric and the analysis to be carried out.

Think of it like comparing snapshots of a video to see how something has moved. In this case, the snapshots are the account balances at the end of two different periods. By comparing these snapshots, we can identify the changes that have occurred and analyze the causes of those changes.

Benefits: Why a flux analysis is important?

A flow analysis is not just an accounting exercise, but a powerful tool that provides deep insight into the financial health of a company. By understanding changes in accounts, informed decisions can be made that will drive growth and profitability. Other benefits that this tool brings are:

Identify areas of improvement

Flow analysis reveals fluctuations in accounts, highlighting areas that need attention. For example, if operating expenses have increased significantly, you can analyze specific items to identify unnecessary expenses or areas for optimization, thereby improving efficiency and reducing costs.

Better prepare decision making

By understanding trends in income, expenses and other financial indicators, you will make better decisions. Whether you’re planning an expansion, launching a new product, or managing cash flow, a cash flow analysis gives you concrete data to support your next action.

Improve financial communication

Flow analysis simplifies the communication of the company’s financial situation to stakeholders, such as shareholders, investors and creditors. By presenting key changes clearly and concisely, you can build trust and transparency.

Detect possible problems

This type of analysis has the ability to reveal unexpected changes or anomalies in accounts, which could indicate potential problems, such as accounting errors, fraud, or mismanagement of resources. If they are detected early, the negative impact on the company can be minimized.

Increase operational efficiency

By monitoring changes in inventory levels, accounts receivable, and other items, you can optimize operational processes and improve efficiency. A flow analysis can help you identify bottlenecks, reduce wait times, and streamline the supply chain.

Formula

There is no single formula to perform this analysis, but in general what is used is:

  • Calculate the difference: The difference between the balance of the previous period and the balance of the current period for each account that you want to analyze.
    • Formula: Difference = Balance of the current period – Balance of the previous period
  • Calculate the percentage change (optional): The percentage change of the difference between the previous period’s balance and the current period’s balance for each account you want to analyze.
    • Formula: Percentage change = (Difference / Balance from previous period) * 100

How to do the best flux analysis? Step by step

Flow analysis is a fundamental tool for any company that wants to understand its financial situation. While there is no magic formula for the “best” analysis, there are key steps you should follow to ensure you get the most valuable and actionable information:

Step 1. Define your objective

What do you want to achieve with your flow analysis? Are you looking to identify areas of improvement, forecast cash flow, or evaluate the effectiveness of a new initiative? Having a clear objective will help you focus your analysis and select the most relevant metrics.

Step 2. Choose your comparison period

Do you want to compare this month’s data with the previous month, with the same month last year, or with a quarterly average? The choice of the comparison period depends on your objective and the nature of your business.

Step 3. Gather your data

You will need accurate and up-to-date financial data for the accounts you want to analyze. This could include income, expenses, accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory, and cash balance.

Step 4. Calculate the changes

For each account you have chosen, calculate the difference between the balances in the comparison period. This is the basis of flow analysis.

Step 5. Identify significant variations

Not all variations deserve attention. Focus on significant variations, whether positive or negative, that can have a real and important impact on your business.

Step 6. Investigate the causes

Once you have identified these variations, investigate the underlying causes. Why did accounts receivable increase? Why did sales decrease? Is there any specific event that explains these changes?

Step 7. Document your findings

Keep a record of your findings and the causes you identified. This will help you take corrective action and track progress in the future.

Step 8. View your data

Graphs and charts can help you see trends and patterns more clearly. Use visualization tools to present your findings effectively.

Step 9. Take action

Based on your analysis, take steps to improve your business. This could include reducing costs, increasing sales, optimizing inventory, or adjusting your marketing strategy.

Step 10. Monitor the results

After taking action, monitor the results to see if your flow analysis was accurate and if the actions you took are having the desired effect.

Example of a flux analysis

Now that you have a clear and concise vision of what a flow analysis is, we leave you a simple example:

Scenario: An e-commerce company wants to analyze the changes in its customer acquisition cost (CAC) from the first quarter to the second quarter of 2023.

Data collection

The company collects the following data from its marketing and accounting systems:

  • Total number of new customers acquired:
    • 1,000 in the first quarter and 1,200 in the second quarter.
  • Total marketing and advertising spending:
    • $100,000 in the first quarter and $120,000 in the second quarter.
  • Breakdown of marketing expenses by channel:
    • Social networks: $50,000 in the first quarter and $60,000 in the second quarter.
    • Paid ads: $25,000 in the first quarter and $30,000 in the second quarter.
    • Influencer marketing: $25,000 in the first quarter and $30,000 in the second quarter.

Calculation

Calculate the CAC for each quarter:

  • First quarter: $100,000 / 1,000 = $100
  • Second quarter: $120,000 / 1,200 = $100

Calculate the difference and percentage change

  • Difference (Q2 – Q1): $100 – $100 = $0
  • Percentage of changes: (0 / 100) * 100% = 0%

Analysis

Comparing the customer acquisition cost of the second quarter with the customer acquisition cost of the first quarter, it is observed that there were no changes. The company’s CAC remained stable at $100 per new customer acquired.

Under what circumstances is a Fluctuation Analysis conducted

It has become clear that flow analysis is a useful and beneficial tool, but when exactly is a flow analysis performed? Here are some key circumstances:

At the end of an accounting period: It is common to perform a flow analysis at the end of each quarter or fiscal year. This allows you to compare the results of the current period with previous periods and evaluate the financial performance of the company.

To investigate unexpected changes: If financial accounts show significant or unexpected changes, a flow analysis will help identify the underlying causes.

Before making important decisions

Before making investments, launching new products, or implementing changes to business strategy, a flow analysis can help evaluate the potential impact of these decisions on the company’s finances.

To evaluate the performance of specific departments or projects

Flow analysis can also be used to evaluate the performance of specific departments or projects within the company. For example, to compare the income and expenses of the sales division with those of the production division.

Trend analysis

By regularly performing flow analysis, you can identify long-term trends in your company’s finances.

Monitor cash flow

This is important to ensure that the company has enough cash to cover its operating expenses and meet its financial obligations.

Identify opportunities for improvement

By analyzing changes in financial accounts, flow analysis helps identify opportunities to improve the company’s efficiency and profitability.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, accounting flow analysis is a way to measure and explain changes in a company’s financial data. It is a practical tool to manage current operations and plan for the future, as well as an effective control to detect errors and anomalies in financial information. Without a doubt, it brings with it many advantages and is very useful.

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