Financial management is an academic discipline which is concerned with decision-making. This decision is concerned with the size and composition of assets and the level and structure of financing. In order to make right decision, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of the objectives. Such an objective provides a framework for right kind of financial decision making. The objectives are concerned with designing a method of operating the Internal Investment and financing of a firm. There are two widely applied approaches, viz.
(a) profit maximization and
(b) wealth maximization.
The term ‘objective’ is used in the sense of an object, a goal or decision criterion. The three decisions – Investment decision, financing decision and dividend policy decision are guided by the objective. Therefore, what is relevant – is not the over-all objective but an operationally useful criterion: It should also be noted that the term objective provides a normative framework. Therefore, a firm should try to achieve and on policies which should be followed so that certain goals are to be achieved. It should be noted that the firms do not necessarily follow them.
Profit Maximization as a Decision Criterion
Profit maximization is considered as the goal of financial management. In this approach, actions that Increase profits should be undertaken and the actions that decrease the profits are avoided. Thus, the Investment, financing and dividend also be noted that the term objective provides a normative framework decisions should be oriented to the maximization of profits. The term ‘profit’ is used in two senses. In one sense it is used as an owner-oriented.
In this concept it refers to the amount and share of national Income that is paid to the owners of business. The second way is an operational concept i.e. profitability. This concept signifies economic efficiency. It means profitability refers to a situation where output exceeds Input. It means, the value created by the use of resources is greater that the Input resources. Thus in all the decisions, one test is used I.e. select asset, projects and decisions that are profitable and reject those which are not profitable.
The profit maximization criterion is criticized on several grounds. Firstly, the reasons for the opposition that are based on misapprehensions about the workability and fairness of the private enterprise itself. Secondly, profit maximization suffers from the difficulty of applying this criterion in the actual real-world situations. The term ‘objective’ refers to an explicit operational guide for the internal investment and financing of a firm and not the overall business operations. We shall now discuss the limitations of profit maximization objective of financial management.
The term ‘profit maximization’ as a criterion for financial decision is vague and ambiguous concept. It lacks precise connotation. The term ‘profit’ is amenable to different interpretations by different people. For example, profit may be long-term or short-term. It may be total profit or rate of profit. It may be net profit before tax or net profit after tax. It may be return on total capital employed or total assets or shareholders equity and so on.
2) Timing of Benefits:
Another technical objection to the profit maximization criterion is that It Ignores the differences in the time pattern of the benefits received from Investment proposals or courses of action. When the profitability is worked out the bigger the better principle is adopted as the decision is based on the total benefits received over the working life of the asset, Irrespective of when they were received. The following table can be considered to explain this limitation.
3) Quality of Benefits
Another Important technical limitation of profit maximization criterion is that it ignores the quality aspects of benefits which are associated with the financial course of action. The term ‘quality’ means the degree of certainty associated with which benefits can be expected. Therefore, the more certain the expected return, the higher the quality of benefits. As against this, the more uncertain or fluctuating the expected benefits, the lower the quality of benefits.
The profit maximization criterion is not appropriate and suitable as an operational objective. It is unsuitable and inappropriate as an operational objective of Investment financing and dividend decisions of a firm. It is vague and ambiguous. It ignores important dimensions of financial analysis viz. risk and time value of money.
An appropriate operational decision criterion for financial management should possess the following quality.
a) It should be precise and exact.
b) It should be based on bigger the better principle.
c) It should consider both quantity and quality dimensions of benefits.
d) It should recognize time value of money.
Wealth Maximization Decision Criterion
Wealth maximization decision criterion is also known as Value Maximization or Net Present-Worth maximization. In the current academic literature value maximization is widely accepted as an appropriate operational decision criterion for financial management decision. It removes the technical limitations of the profit maximization criterion. It posses the three requirements of a suitable operational objective of financial courses of action. These three features are exactness, quality of benefits and the time value of money.
i) Exactness: The value of an asset should be determined In terms of returns it can produce. Thus, the worth of a course of action should be valued In terms of the returns less the cost of undertaking the particular course of action. Important element in computing the value of a financial course of action is the exactness in computing the benefits associated with the course of action. The wealth maximization criterion is based on cash flows generated and not on accounting profit. The computation of cash inflows and cash outflows is precise. As against this the computation of accounting is not exact.
ii) Quality and Quantity and Benefit and Time Value of Money:
The second feature of wealth maximization criterion is that. It considers both the quality and quantity dimensions of benefits. Moreover, it also incorporates the time value of money. As stated earlier the quality of benefits refers to certainty with which benefits are received In future.
The more certain the expected cash in flows the better the quality of benefits and higher the value. On the contrary the less certain the flows the lower the quality and hence, value of benefits. It should also be noted that money has time value. It should also be noted that benefits received in earlier years should be valued highly than benefits received later.
The operational implication of the uncertainty and timing dimensions of the benefits associated with a financial decision is that adjustments need to be made in the cash flow pattern. It should be made to incorporate risk and to make an allowance for differences in the timing of benefits. Net present value maximization is superior to the profit maximization as an operational objective.
It involves a comparison of value of cost. The action that has a discounted value reflecting both time and risk that exceeds cost is said to create value. Such actions are to be undertaken. Contrary to this actions with less value than cost, reduce wealth should be rejected. It is for these reasons that the Net Present Value Maximization is superior to the profit maximization as an operational objective.
PROFIT MAXIMIZATION VS WEALTH MAXIMIZATION
PROFIT MAXIMISATION – It is one of the basic objectives of financial management. Profit maximization aims at improving profitability, maintaining the stability and reducing losses and inefficiencies.
Profit in this context can be seen in 2 senses.
1. Profit maximization for the owner.
2. Profit maximization is for others.
Normally profit is linked with efficiency and so it is the test of efficiency.
However this concept has certain limitations like ambiguity i.e. the term is not clear as it is nowhere defined, it changes from person to person.
2. Quality of profit – normally profit is counted in terms of rupees. Normally amt earned is called as profit but it ignores certain basic ideas like wastage, efficiency, employee skill, employee’s turnover, product mix, manufacturing process, administrative setup.
3. Timing of benefit / time value of profit – in inflationary conditions the value of profit will decrease and hence the profits may not be comparable over a longer period span.
4. Some economists argue that profit maximization is sometimes leads to unhealthy trends and is harmful to the society and may result into exploitation, unhealthy competition and taking undue advantage of the position.
WEALTH MAXIMISATION – One of the traditional
approaches of financial management , by wealth maximization we mean the accumulation and creation of wealth , property and assets over a period of time thus if profit maximization is aimed after taking care , of its limitations it will lead to wealth maximization in real sense, it is a long term concept based on the cash flows rather than profits an hence there can be a situation where a business makes losses every year but there are cash profits because of heavy depreciation which indirectly suggests heavy investment in fixed assets and that is the real wealth and it takes into account the time value of money and so is universally accepted.
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