The financial accounts provide a wealth of information that is useful to various users of financial information.
Investors are concerned about risk and return in relation to their investments. They require information to decide whether they should continue to invest in a business. They also need to be able to assess whether a business will be able to pay dividends, and to measure the performance of the business' management overall
Banks and other financial institutions who lend money to a business require information that helps them determined whether loans and interest will be paid when due
Suppliers and trade creditors require information that helps them understand and assess the short-term liquidity of a business. Is the business able to pay short-term debt when it falls due?
Customers & Debtors
Customers and trade debtors require information about the ability of the business to survive and prosper. As customers of the company's products, they have a long-term interest in the company's range of products and services. They may even be dependent on the business for certain products or services
Employees (and organisations that represent them - e.g. trade unions) require information about the stability and continuing profitability of the business. They are crucially interested in information about employment prospects and the maintenance of pension funding and retirement benefits. They are also likely to interested in the pay and benefits obtained by senior management!
There are many government agencies and departments that are interested in accounting information. For example, the government needs information on business profitability in order to levy and collect Corporation Tax. Various regulatory agencies (e.g. the Competition Commission and the Environment Agency) need information to support decisions about takeovers and grants, for example.
Investment analysts are an important user group - specifically for companies quoted on a stock exchange. They require very detailed financial and other information in order to analyse the competitive performance of a business and its sector. Much of this is provided by the detailed accounting disclosures that are required by the London Stock Exchange. However, additional accounting information is usually provided to analysts via formal company briefings and interviews.
Interest groups, formed by various groups of individuals who have a specific interest in the activities and performance of businesses, will also require accounting information.