When I first retired from the position of CFO, I thought I might try and help boards of directors of smaller financial institutions, that may not have a financial background, better understand their obligation to ask management the right questions. Typically, boards are given large board reports with dozens of pages of financial information, with one or two pages of financial ratios. Financial ratios are important, because they can have the predictive ability of warning against future problems. Some ratios are straight forward and easy to understand, while others are more complicated.
This post is not to try and tell boards which ratios are most important (a quick Google search will give plenty of those). This post is to provide boards with the tools to present their top ten predictive ratios, in a visual presentation. The dashboard is made up of ten odometers or gauges. Each gauge has a dial and the colors green and red on each side of the gauge.
When the dial is straight up it is pointing to the ratio level that has been chosen as the target level for that particular ratio. That target can be the annual budget target, an average of the firm’s peers, or long or short-term goals. Whatever the target, it should be realistic and the board should set it. Any changes to the target goal should also be the board’s decision. When the dial starts to move into the red, questions should be asked to determine why and what the management team plans to do to remedy the problem. The best part is that the Excel spreadsheet dashboard is free.
Each gauge’s description, target and range are entered in the dark yellow cells. The current ratio each month is entered in the light yellow cell. Most of the time the gauges will adjust as soon as the new data is entered. If a gauge does not automatically change, click the green button on that row to adjust the gauge. Some ratios are better if the number is relatively high and others are better if they are relatively low. The blue button on the same row as the ratio inputs, reverses the green and red colors.
There is also a floating input form. Click on the image of a mouse to get the floating form.