statement of cash flows indirect method vs direct method

Statement of Cash Flows Indirect Method Explained

Did you know that 90% of large companies use the indirect method to make their cash flow statements? This method is a common way to show how money moves in a business and works well with the usual accounting methods (accrual accounting).

Understanding the Indirect Method

 It’s important because it shows a company’s cash movements well. Bigger companies mostly use this method. It fits well with how they keep their accounting books, making gathering information from their accounts easier.

Definition of the Indirect Method

Under the indirect method definition, we start with the company’s net income. Then, we make adjustments for non-cash items and changes in accounts. This lets us see the cash that went in during the period. It’s like we’re turning back to the actual cash movements.

Key Differences Between Indirect and Direct Methods

Both methods lead us to the same total cash from operating activities. However, their presentation varies significantly. When we contrast the direct method with the indirect method of preparing the cash flow statement:

  • The direct method lists the actual cash movements, such as money from sales, interest received, and payments to suppliers and workers.
  • The indirect method begins with net income and then adjusts. It looks at things like adding back depreciation and changing account balances.

Many accountants prefer using the indirect method because it is more convenient. It just needs data from usual financial reports. However, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) prefers the direct method because it paints a clearer cash flow picture for businesses.

Components of the Cash Flow Statement

Components of the Cash Flow Statement

The statement of cash flows helps us see how much money a company is making and spending. It includes three parts: money from daily work, cash used for growing the business, and money from getting loans or issuing stock. Through these, we learn where the money is coming from and where it goes.

Cash Flow from Operating Activities

The operating activities cash flow chapter shows money from daily business activities. It counts revenue from sales and money spent on things like supplies and salaries. To determine the net cash, we start with the company’s income and then adjust for non-cash items.

Cash Flow from Investing Activities

Investing activities cash flow looks at spending on long-term things like buildings or equipment. This part also includes money from selling these assets. It shows how a company is investing in its future growth.

Cash Flow from Financing Activities

The financing activities cash flow section covers how a company gets money from investors or banks. It also shows money spent on paying back loans or buying back stock. This part helps us understand how the company manages its debts and funding growth.

Learning about cash flow’s three types is vital for anyone interested in a company’s financial health. By examining where money comes from and how it’s spent, we can gain clues about the company’s ability to stay afloat and grow.

Cash Flow Statement the Indirect Method

The indirect method is a common way to make a cash flow statement. It adjusts the net income using changes in the balance sheet, which helps find the cash generated by operations. This systematic approach ensures accuracy and completeness.

Gathering Financial Statements

Gathering Financial Statements

The first step is to get the financial statements for the period. The income statement and the balance sheet are needed. These documents are crucial for adjusting net income and helping account for changes in working capital, which is key in determining the cash flows from operations.

Adjusting Net Income for Non-Cash Items

Once you have the financial statements, find the net income on the income statement. Next, adjust the net income for non-cash items. For example, add back depreciation and amortization. These costs do not impact the cash flow but lower the net profit. Accurately display the actual cash impact for items such as profits or losses from selling assets.

Accounting for Changes in Working Capital

After adjusting for non-cash items, deal with changes in working capital. Look at changes in accounts like receivables, inventory, and payables. An uptick in receivables or inventory means cash is tied up. An increase in payables means more cash is available. Adjust the net income to find the net cash flow from operations.

After the non-cash and working capital adjustments, you’ll have the net cash flow from operations. Combine this with cash movement from investment and financing to see the net change in cash and equivalents for the period.

Following these steps lets companies create a detailed cash flow statement using the indirect method. This statement offers a deep look into how a company handles its cash and aids others, like investors, in gauging its health and liquidity.

Advantages of the Indirect Method for the Statement of Cash Flows

Statement of Cash Flows

The indirect method for cash flows has benefits that many like. It’s easy and simple to handle. Companies usually keep their records using the accrual method. This makes using the indirect method straightforward. You can easily calculate the cash from operations by tweaking the net income and changing balance sheet accounts.

The indirect method helps make financial statements easier to compare. Using the same method as others lets companies check their cash flow against industry standards. This is important for people who use these statements to understand a company’s financial health.

The indirect method might not show detailed cash transactions, but it gives a big picture of cash flow. It can show how net income and changes in working capital affect cash flow. These are some of the key benefits of the indirect cash flow method.

  • Making cash flow statements easier to create
  • Using data already available from income statements and balance sheets
  • Showing how net income correlates with cash flow
  • Illustrating how non-cash items and working capital affect cash flow

In summary, the indirect approach is favored for cash flow statements because it’s easy to use, widely accepted, and helps compare across the industry. Companies can benefit from these qualities by reporting their cash flow well. Plus, stakeholders can use the information to make smart financial choices.


The statement of cash flows is key to understanding a company’s health and how well it operates. Big companies often prepare this statement using indirect methods. It links net income to cash flow from operations, adjusting for non-cash items and changes in working capital.

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