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6 ways shareholders can detect the covert misuse of assets

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2024 | Shareholder Representation & Litigation

Being a shareholder involves more than passively collecting dividends. As a conscientious co-owner, you can protect your interests and those of others by monitoring the conduct of the board of directors and company executives. Such attentiveness ensures transparency and accountability while preventing malfeasance.

For example, the covert misuse of assets within a company can erode the value of your shares and eventually incapacitate the firm. However, vigilance may help you detect such activities before they become irreparable.

1. Scrutinize financial statements and cash flow patterns

Thoroughly analyze financial statements for any irregularities or unexplained transactions. Discrepancies in revenue, expenses or sudden changes in asset values may signal potential misuse.

You can also track the company’s cash flow patterns over time. Sudden changes or discrepancies between reported profits and actual cash flows may indicate financial manipulations or the misappropriation of assets.

2. Compare industry benchmarks

While a sudden boom in profits should be welcome news, unusual success while others are floundering may merit a closer look. Benchmark the company’s financial performance against industry standards. Significant deviations without justifiable reasons could be a red flag.

3. Review audit reports

Pay close attention to audit reports and any concerns that external auditors raise. Unaddressed issues or a lack of transparency in audit findings may indicate potential asset mismanagement.

Remember that shareholders have the right to request additional information from the company. Seek clarity on any ambiguous financial transactions or activities, and ensure that responses are clear and comprehensive.

4. Examine related-party transactions

Double-check any transactions involving related parties, such as executives or their affiliates. The misuse of assets may manifest in deals that favor insiders at the expense of the organization and its shareholders.

5. Stay informed on regulatory compliance

Keep abreast of the company’s compliance with regulatory standards. Frequent violations or a lack of adherence to industry regulations may suggest that all dealings are not above board.

6. Engage in shareholder advocacy

Collaborate with fellow shareholders to collectively advocate for transparency and accountability. When you unite in your efforts, you can exert more influence in ensuring proper asset management.

By actively participating in the oversight of a company’s financial health, shareholders can contribute to the detection and prevention of the misuse of assets. Maintaining an informed and vigilant stance safeguards your investments and promotes ethical business practices within the corporate landscape.