When bankers ask for reams of financial reports, a lot of borrowers get testy -- and understandably so. Preparing statements takes time, and with accountants involved the expenses can add up. But for those who are curious about why lenders ask for all the information they do, a new pamphlet from Robert Morris Associates has some answers. "Financial Statements for Bank Credit Purposes" walks you through the differences between balance sheets, income statements, and statements of cash flow. And it tells you what sorts of clues about your business bankers seek to glean from each.

Although this 23-page pamphlet is by no means comprehensive, it's a good primer on financial reporting.

Some banks are distributing the booklet for free. You can order it directly from Robert Morris Associates by calling 215-851-0585; the minimum order is $7.50 for 10 copies.

-- Bruce G. Posner