How to Write a Financial Executive Summary

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Highlight your financial situation and goals without detailing every number.
Highlight your financial situation and goals without detailing every number. (Image: g-stockstudio/iStock/Getty Images)

Sometimes it costs a lot of money to make changes, whether they involve developing and launching a product or overhauling existing social policies. Whatever your goal, gaining funding will most likely begin with an executive report, explaining your project’s details and your financial needs to a target audience. But investors often have neither the time nor the inclination to read through an extensive report -- they want to determine relatively quickly whether they’re interested and whether your project has merit. Most prefer that you include an executive summary, a condensed version of the report that highlights the most important information.

The Mission Statement

Explain your goal at the beginning of your executive summary. You can include it in a mission statement, telling your reader what you -- or your business -- hopes to achieve and why. Although executive summaries are typically short and to the point, you have a little leeway with your mission statement when your purpose is to ask for money. You might also use this section to introduce your important employees, those who have been or will be instrumental in getting your project off the ground. Cite their qualifications, as well as your own.

Information About You or Your Business

You can include an additional section to highlight yourself or your business if your report includes information that might sway an investor. If your business is thriving, explain how and why. If you’ve had success with similar projects in the past, mention this. You’re not limited to words -- you can use charts or graphs for visual impact. But remember that your summary is exactly that, an overview, so avoid including several pages of images.

A Market Analysis

If you did a market analysis to determine whether your project has merit, devote a section of your report and its summary to the results. Explain how you intend to work with your findings to make your product or idea available to the public and successful. Be honest about any anticipated problems that your analysis revealed and explain how you plan to handle them. This section gives you an opportunity to let your knowledge and experience shine.

The Financial Statement

By far, the most important part of both your report and your executive summary is your financial statement. You’re asking for money and your summary must make a powerful case for why the investor’s money is safe with you and when and how he’ll see a return. If other investors have already come on board with you, identify them. Explain how much money you’ll need and how you’ll use it. Identify your own contributions, whether they’re also financial or brain power. Mention your current financial picture. Remember, the idea of a summary is to give an overview, so don’t get bogged down in numbers, but do mention the bottom line.

The Conclusion

Your summary should be short, ideally no more than four pages, so you’ll have to make every sentence count. Make each one powerful enough to compel your reader to join you in your initiative. The first and last sentences may be the most important -- the first draws your investor in and the last wins him over.

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