Anyone know how to find out how much money your company makes?

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Ed's picture
Ed
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Jul 17 2012 20:53
Anyone know how to find out how much money your company makes?

Alright everyone, was just wondering if anyone had any experience researching their company.. I wanted to find out specifically how much our company makes (to compare it with how much we make now and, more importantly, how much they say they can pay us when they change our contracts in January)..

Has anyone ever done anything like that? How would I go about doing it?

Steven.'s picture
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Jul 17 2012 21:01

Well if it's a publicly limited company then the accounts are public documents which you can get from your countries Companies House. (Although bear in mind that they can hide profits in sneaky ways by funnelling things off into executive pension funds, etc. Some companies deliberately set up arms where they hire people which always look loss-making, as they sent profits to some offshoot company which is technically separate)

alternately, if there is a recognised union then its officials should be able to request the relevant documentation. I guess you could even buy a share in the company, if it has been floated, and get all shareholders' information.

If it's not publicly limited or listed and there is no union then it can be trickier… Although it may still publish an annual report or something

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Jul 17 2012 22:34

In HE we get the financial reports sent to the union just like Steven states. I am thinking you could submit an FOI either to the company or Companies House if the information is not considered private. Google FOI and you will get some good guidance because its quite a progressive piece of legislation.

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Jul 17 2012 22:47

Ed isn't in the UK, so FOI won't apply. There may be some similar legislation however.

A couple of years ago the left-wing government published online how much everybody earned and how much tax they paid. It got taken down quickly but someone probably backed it up, see you could look up your company owners individually on there!

snipfool
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Jul 17 2012 23:23

UK-only but this could be useful for others. I think it just uses the Companies House data that Steven mentioned but possibly simplified, does the hard work for you? Gives figures like profit per employee.

http://www.worksmart.org.uk/company/

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Jul 18 2012 06:55

If it's publicly listed, as people say they'll file accounts somewhere (in the UK it's Companies House). Check the notes - common ways of hiding profits are by over-depreciating assets, or as Steven says inter-company transfers within a larger group (which might be recorded as 'servicing intercompany loans' or something). Basically the notes are like footnotes explaining how things were calculated.

If it's not publicly listed, you might want to make contacts in the accounts department if possible. I had a job where this meant getting hold of a leaked copy of management (internal) accounts showing the huge bonus the directors were taking out which pushed the company 'wage bill' into 'loss-making' (they then made redundancies to 'cut the wage bill', cunts).

A variation on this, depending on the company and your skill set is to volunteer to help out; I once got seconded to the accounts team because I was pretty good with Excel, and made sure I added in a load of complicated formulas so they needed my help every now and then - and left me with access to the latest accounts on the shared drive black bloc

I haven't used it myself, but there's EU regulations on the Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE). Brighton SF has the UK LRD booklet somewhere, though the implementation/case law might differ where you are.If I remember right, basically the regulations give workers (in firms with more than 50 employees, iirc) the right to elect a representative to consult with management, and request information which they have to provide. It's meant as a social-democratic thing to bypass unions, but it might be something you can use.

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Jul 18 2012 08:50

Yeah, good point, even if there is not a union there may be a works council. Or maybe even some token worker representative on the Board of Directors

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Jul 18 2012 08:54
Joseph Kay wrote:
If it's publicly listed, as people say they'll file accounts somewhere (in the UK it's Companies House). Check the notes - common ways of hiding profits are by over-depreciating assets, or as Steven says inter-company transfers within a larger group (which might be recorded as 'servicing intercompany loans' or something). Basically the notes are like footnotes explaining how things were calculated.

Not relevant to the OP, but even if a limited company is not publicly listed (i.e. it's a private limited company as opposed to a public limited company), it's accounts are still publicly available from companies house and increasingly there are a number of websites that make getting and analysing this information easier

In the UK for example, this site , in addition to being very useful for searching on director information for companies (both searching on who the directors of a company are, and also seeing what other companies they are directors off) , provides a fairly detailed financial extract of the company's accounts going back ten years. It also allows you to download the actual accounts filled at companies house for the company for the previous ten years, and plans to soon incorporate shareholder information into the analysis it provides, which would make it much easier to link up connected & related companies

By using sites like this and linking up connected or related companies it's fairly easy to unpick any clouding of the true financial situation for a company.

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Jul 18 2012 08:57
oisleep wrote:
Not relevant to the OP, but even if a limited company is not publicly listed (i.e. it's a private limited company as opposed to a public limited company), it's accounts are still publicly available from companies house

yeah, brainfart there