Fiscal Year: Explained

What is it, how to calculate it, formula, why it's important

Hi there, fellow business enthusiasts! As the CFO of a company, I know how confusing it can be to understand financial terms and jargon, especially when it comes to the fiscal year. Fear not, because I'm here to help you understand everything you need to know about fiscal years in a fun and straightforward way!

What is a fiscal year?

A fiscal year is a period of 12 months that a company uses for accounting and financial reporting. It's different from a calendar year, which is the standard 12-month period starting on January 1st and ending on December 31st. The start and end dates of a fiscal year are determined by each individual company and often depend on their industry and business practices.

Why do companies use a fiscal year?

The main reason companies use a fiscal year is that it allows them to align their financial reporting with the natural ebb and flow of their business. For example, a company that sells winter apparel would likely end their fiscal year in March, just after the winter season has ended and before they start preparing for the next one.

Another reason companies use a fiscal year is that it allows them to separate their financial reporting from other important dates, such as tax deadlines. By choosing a different end date for their fiscal year, they can ensure that their reporting deadlines don't coincide with other major deadlines.

How are financial statements related to the fiscal year?

Financial statements are a crucial part of a company's accountability, and they're directly related to the fiscal year. The three main financial statements are the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. Each of these statements presents a company's financial information in a different way and provides valuable insights into its financial health.

The income statement shows a company's revenue and expenses over a set period, which is typically a fiscal year. It provides a clear picture of how much money the company made and how much it spent during that time.

The balance sheet provides a snapshot of a company's financial position at a specific point in time, typically the end of a fiscal year. It shows a company's assets, liabilities, and equity, allowing investors and stakeholders to understand how much the company is worth.

The cash flow statement shows how much cash a company has generated and spent during a fiscal year. It provides valuable insight into a company's ability to generate cash and manage its expenses.

What is a fiscal quarter?

Most companies, especially publicly-traded ones, divide their fiscal year into four quarters of three months each. This allows them to provide more frequent financial updates to shareholders and stakeholders and react quickly to changes in their business.

Each fiscal quarter has its own financial statements, just like the fiscal year. Often, the first fiscal quarter of the year is the most important, as it sets the tone for the rest of the year and provides valuable insights into a company's performance.


That's it! Now you know everything you need to know about fiscal years and why they matter. By aligning financial reporting with the natural ebb and flow of their business, companies can gain valuable insights into their financial health and make better decisions for the future.

As a CFO, I encourage you to stay curious and never stop learning about the financial world. It can be a complex and confusing place, but with a little effort, anyone can understand it and use it to their advantage!

Until next time, keep crunching those numbers!

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