Pro Forma

“As a matter of” or “For the sake of form”

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What does Pro Forma Mean?

Pro forma is Latin for “as a matter of” or “for the sake of form.” It is used primarily in reference to the presentation of information in a formal way, assuming or forecasting pieces of information that may be unavailable.

Pro Forma

In most cases, pro forma documentation is used to present a reasonable representation of what an anticipated occurrence will look like, often a cash expense for shipments. Pro forma statements show the underlying assumptions about the shipment and what the documentation will look like if the assumptions are proven true.

Pro Forma Income Statements

Pro forma statements are useful with regard to tracking future financial direction and occurrences, often including some historical numbers to help account for what the projected outcomes should look like. In the event that the projected numbers show that profits are likely to drop, the pro forma statement allows a company to see the need for changes in its operations to prevent decreased profitability. The changes can include cutting costs or increasing the price of goods and services.

Pro forma income statements are important because of the information they can offer a company. If, for example, it is preparing to produce new goods, the financial statements can help forecast if producing the new goods will cause expenses to increase. This enables the company to accommodate any potential for profit/loss by changing production strategy, materials, or even the rate at, or timing of, the production of the goods.

Letters of Intent

Pro forma documents, in any form, are essentially like letters of intent, expressing what an invoice or transaction is anticipated to look like after completion. The documents are often used to express interest in business transactions or reveal the intended purpose and outcome of the transaction.

Any documents that deal with a company and its earnings must follow the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), established by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). For small businesses, application for a Small Business Administration loan often requires the production of a pro forma financial document. Regardless of the arena in which a pro forma document is used, it is an important tool for forecasting outcomes and ensuring that the desired outcomes are met.

Additional Resources

CFI offers the Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)™ certification program for those looking to take their careers to the next level. To keep learning and advancing your career, the following CFI resources will be helpful:

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