Cash Flow vs Fund Flow: What are the Differences

Cash flow tracks money coming in and going out of a business. Fund flow monitors cash moving within the financial system.
Cash Flow vs Fund Flow: What are the Differences
3 mins
7 November 2023

Key takeaways

  • Cash flow statements focus on tracking the actual movement of money in and out of a business.
  • Fund flow is the working capital of a business and includes the net movement of funds.
  • Both cash flow and fund flow statements offer a quick snapshot of how well a company is doing for investors and the market.
  • Cash flow shows if a company can pay bills now, while fund flow is for long-term financial planning.

Understanding the difference between cash flow and fund flow is crucial for making sound investment decisions in the stock market. These two concepts may sound similar but have distinct meanings and serve diverse purposes in financial analysis. This article explores the details of cash flow and fund flow, showing how they differ and explaining their pros and cons. It aims to help investors and analysts better grasp their importance in the Indian stock market.

What is a fund flow?

Fund flow is a comprehensive financial statement that tracks the movement of funds within an organisation over a specific period. It encompasses both cash and non-cash items and provides insights into the changes in a company's financial position. Fund flow statements are typically used to assess long-term financial stability and the allocation of funds for various activities within the organisation.
Fund flow analysis can help investors and analysts understand how funds are being utilised by companies, offering valuable insights into their financial health and investment potential.

What is a cash flow?

Cash flow, on the other hand, is a financial statement that focuses solely on the movement of cash in and out of a business during a given period. It provides a snapshot of a company's liquidity and its ability to meet short-term financial obligations. Cash flow statements are crucial for assessing a company's ability to generate cash and are often used by investors to determine if a company can meet its immediate financial needs.

In the Indian stock market, cash flow analysis plays a critical role in evaluating the short-term financial viability of companies, making it an essential tool for traders and short-term investors.

Additional read: What is Return on Equity

10 differences between cash flow statement and fund flow statement

Aspect

Cash flow statements

Fund flow statements

Scope

Deals only with cash transactions

Encompasses cash and non-cash items

Purpose

Assess short-term liquidity

Focus on long-term financial stability

Timing

Reports cash position at a specific point in time

Analyzes changes over a longer timeframe

Components

Operating, investing, financing activities

Various sources and applications of funds

Inclusion of non-cash items

Exclude depreciation and similar items

Incorporate non-cash items for a holistic view

Assessment of short-term vs. long-term

Suited for short-term liquidity

Provides insights into long-term stability

Analysing changes

Mainly focuses on cash changes

Focuses on changes in entire fund position

Investor focus

Attracts short-term investors and traders

Valuable for long-term investors and analysts

Investment decisions

Aids in short-term investment decisions

Useful for strategic long-term investment choices

Regulatory requirements

Mandatory under Indian accounting standards

Not mandatory in India

 

Advantages of cash flow statements

  1. Liquidity assessment: Cash flow statements provide a clear picture of an entity's short-term liquidity, helping businesses and investors assess their ability to meet immediate financial obligations.
  2. Immediate decision-making: These statements are valuable for short-term investment and operational decisions, enabling quick evaluations of a company's cash position.
  3. Simple and direct: Cash flow statements are relatively straightforward, making them easy to understand for both financial professionals and non-experts.

Disadvantages of cash flow statements

  1. Limited scope: They primarily focus on short-term financial health, offering little insight into long-term financial stability or capital allocation.
  2. Excludes non-cash items: Cash flow statements do not consider non-cash items like depreciation, which can impact a company's overall financial health.

Advantages of fund flow statements

  1. Holistic view: Fund flow statements offer a comprehensive view of an entity's financial position, considering both cash and non-cash items, which is essential for assessing long-term financial stability.
  2. Strategic planning: They are valuable for long-term investment decisions and strategic planning, helping businesses allocate funds efficiently.
  3. Allocation analysis: Fund flow statements allow for the analysis of how funds are utilised within an organisation, providing insights into capital allocation.

Disadvantages of fund flow statements

  1. Complexity: These statements can be more complex and time-consuming to prepare and analyse compared to cash flow statements.
  2. Not mandatory: Unlike cash flow statements, fund flow statements may not be mandatory for all companies, leading to potential inconsistencies in reporting.

Conclusion

While both cash flow and fund flow statements serve their unique purposes, investors and analysts should leverage them in tandem to gain a comprehensive view of a company's financial health. The cash flow statement is most effective for assessing a company's liquidity, while the fund flow statement is more suitable for long-term financial planning. By utilising both statements effectively, investors can navigate the complexities of the stock market with greater precision.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between cash flow in and cash flow out?

Cash inflow is defined as funds going into a business. These funds can be from sales, financing, or investments. Conversely, cash outflow is money leaving the business. By understanding these concepts and knowing how to calculate and analyse these financial metrics, you can make informed, strategic decisions and capitalise on your resources.

What is the difference between cash and funds?

While cash and funds are often used interchangeably, they differ when it comes to accounting. Funds comprise all the available financial resources, while money that is available in physical form as currency is referred to as cash.

What is the formula for cash flow?

The formula for free cash flow is provided below:

Free Cash Flow = NI + (D/A) - ΔWC - CE

Where

  • NI is the net income, which is the profit or loss incurred by the company after deducting all of its expenses.
  • D and A are depreciation and amortisation, respectively. Depreciation represents the decrease in the value of a current asset over time. On the other hand, amortisation refers to the spreading of the cost of an intangible asset over its lifetime.
  • ΔWC is the change in working capital. Working capital refers to the money used by a business for running its daily activities.
  • CE is the capital expenditure, which represents fixed business assets, such as land and equipment.