Interpretaing small company accounts

I am being both nosey and dense: an ex-colleague of mine has moved to a niche practice that does not hit the threshold to produce full accounts, they have submitted abridged small company accounts which contains really only a balance sheet. 

I am trying to ascertain roughly what this firm generates in fees, would the best figure to use the Current Assets  - Debtors in the BS?  If so, this looks to be well under a mill...

Any guidance much apprecited.  


If it’s first accounts or within the 1st couple of  years of establishing then it’s basically worthless without P&L

there is ample scope to manipulate accounts.


if there's lots of little regular trade, you might be able to say that well, maybe, debtors is 1 months billings (???) but, if it's irregular high value invoicing, it could be the entire years billings in one go, or it could be random other debtors.  so share capital unpaid could be debtors, shareholder loan could be debtors. 


basically it's impossible to tell





Could be a multi million pound business where everyone pays in cash.

Current assets - debtors=nil

Doesn't tell you anything 

If you have current and prior year balance sheets then the movement in reserves/retained earnings will be the profit for the year. 

However, that’s not the same as fees… plus lawyers are notoriously bad at collecting fees on time, so current debtors is highly unlikely to be just 30 days worth. Much more likely to be 90 days worth. 

Would also check current liabilities for deferred revenue. If clients are paying in advance/retainers etc it will sit there, so you need to combine. 

"If you have current and prior year balance sheets then the movement in reserves/retained earnings will be the profit for the year. "


Retained profits for the year.  If they've paid dividends then not so much. and lots of small companies pay dividends instead of paying salaries (or some combination thereof)

That’s fine if includes dividends. In deriving fees from profit you need to make an assumption about salaries. Doesn’t matter if it’s divs or not, it will still be in that movement. 

The only thing you can surmise about turnover from the accounts of a company filing abridged small company accounts is that it has turnover of £10.2 million or less, unless there is less than £5.1 million on its balance sheet AND it has ar least 50 employees.

So basically there is no way of accurately telling what the turnover of <50 employee small firm with no assets is from statutory accounts.

If the retained profits move from Y1 of £1 to Y2 of £2, the profit in Y2 is somewhere between £1 and £gazillion 

I agree with what clubbers said but sometimes you can get a sense. Not everyone has a particularly canny accountant (or cares to project a particular view). It is sort of weird that this stuff is commonly available.

 - you could subscribe to DNB and get an insight into their credit rating which might give you an view as to how well they're doing.  they also have payment experience etc.  probably not that interesting for a small co with limited outgoings and no published accounts.

 - you could engage the likes of George, above, to pose as either a recruiter or acquirer or small businesses and get them to open the kimono on the numbers

 - you could engage the likes of George's less reputable friends to gain access to his emails/saas accounting system.

 - you could also engage them to get a job at the accountant who does the accounts (may be able to tell that from the registered office/name on the accounts) to look into the system.