Finance is a term describing the study and system of money, investments, and other financial instruments. Some people prefer to divide finance into three distinct categories: public finance, corporate finance, and personal finance. There is also the recently emerging area of social finance. Behavioral finance seeks to identify the cognitive (e.g. emotional, social, and psychological) reasons behind financial decisions.
Finance is a field that is concerned with the allocation (investment) of assets and liabilities over space and time, often under conditions of risk or uncertainty. Finance can also be defined as the art of money management. Participants in the market aim to price assets based on their risk level, fundamental value, and their expected rate of return. Finance can be split into three sub-categories: public finance, corporate finance and personal finance.
Some of the major scope of financial management are as follows:-
The investment decision involves the evaluation of risk, measurement of cost of capital and estimation of expected benefits from a project. Capital budgeting and liquidity are the two major components of investment decision. Capital budgeting is concerned with the allocation of capital and commitment of funds in permanent assets which would yield earnings in future.
Capital budgeting also involves decisions with respect to replacement and renovation of old assets. The finance manager must maintain an appropriate balance between fixed and current assets in order to maximize profitability and to maintain desired liquidity in the firm.
Capital budgeting is a very important decision as it affects the long-term success and growth of a firm. At the same time it is a very difficult decision because it involves the estimation of costs and benefits which are uncertain and unknown.
While the investment decision involves decision with respect to composition or mix of assets, financing decision is concerned with the financing mix or financial structure of the firm. The raising of funds requires decisions regarding the methods and sources of finance, relative proportion and choice between alternative sources, time of floatation of securities, etc. In order to meet its investment needs, a firm can raise funds from various sources.
The finance manager must develop the best finance mix or optimum capital structure for the enterprise so as to maximize the long- term market price of the company’s shares. A proper balance between debt and equity is required so that the return to equity shareholders is high and their risk is low.
Use of debt or financial leverage effects both the return and risk to the equity shareholders. The market value per share is maximized when risk and return are properly matched. The finance department has also to decide the appropriate time to raise the funds and the method of issuing securities.
In order to achieve the wealth maximization objective, an appropriate dividend policy must be developed. One aspect of dividend policy is to decide whether to distribute all the profits in the form of dividends or to distribute a part of the profits and retain the balance. While deciding the optimum dividend payout ratio (proportion of net profits to be paid out to shareholders).
The finance manager should consider the investment opportunities available to the firm, plans for expansion and growth, etc. Decisions must also be made with respect to dividend stability, form of dividends, i.e., cash dividends or stock dividends, etc.
Working Capital Decision
Working capital decision is related to the investment in current assets and current liabilities. Current assets include cash, receivables, inventory, short-term securities, etc. Current liabilities consist of creditors, bills payable, outstanding expenses, bank overdraft, etc. Current assets are those assets which are convertible into a cash within a year. Similarly, current liabilities are those liabilities, which are likely to mature for payment within an accounting year.