Obtaining financial data from companies can be tricky. Some companies oblige, others don´t, or they may give you some financial data but not very much. However, if you want a high mark for your HL coursework, it is recommended to try and do some financial analysis of your chosen company.
Why is getting financials tricky?
- The company may not be doing very well financially, and it does not want the whole world to know about it.
- It may not want competitors to see their financials, for obvious reasons.
- The numbers may reveal how much income the owners of the company make from their business, which is personal information.
Here are a few tips to help you increase your chances of obtaining financial data.
Say upfront, when you first contact the company, that you will need to have some financial data. If they say that this is not possible, move on to another company. This is a good strategy, if you have a wide choice of companies who could be the subjects of your research.
What happens if you don´t have a wide choice of possible companies? In this case, when first approaching your company don´t mention the need to have financial data. Talk vaguely about the need to collect ´information´ . Develop a good rapport with your contacts in the company and wait until you feel that they trust you, before broaching the subject. This could be after the third or fourth visit. They should be more likely to say yes.
Even after all this, what happens if they still say no?
It´s not the end of the world! Your response should be:-
“OK, fine, I fully understand. Financials are sensitive. However, would it be possible to give me some financial information? It does not have to be the actual numbers, but maybe percentage changes in certain variables, such as revenues, important costs, liabilities, assets etc”.
In other words getting some information is better than none. And some of the best coursework my students have done has been when they have obtained some financial information and then, in the process of analysing and evaluating this information, they have made ´guesstimates´about the missing data. As long as those guesstimates are based on good assumptions, further research and solid reasoning, you will be positively rewarded by the examiner.