What is Shareholders’ Funds?

Shareholders' Funds

Share This...

Shareholders’ Funds

Shareholders’ funds, often referred to as “owners’ equity” or simply “equity,” represent the residual interest in the assets of a company after deducting liabilities. In other words, it’s the amount that would be returned to shareholders if all the company’s assets were sold off and all its debts repaid.

Shareholders’ funds can be calculated using the following basic formula from a company’s balance sheet:

Shareholders’ Funds = Total Assets − Total Liabilities

The main components of shareholders’ funds typically include:

  • Share Capital: This is the total value of shares that have been issued by the company. It represents the initial investments and any subsequent additional investments made by the shareholders in exchange for shares of stock.
  • Retained Earnings: These are the cumulative net earnings or profits of a company that have been retained (i.e., not distributed as dividends) since its inception. Retained earnings can be reinvested in the company or held as reserves for future use.
  • Reserves: These can be both capital reserves and revenue reserves. Reserves are amounts set aside from profits for specific purposes, such as to absorb future losses or for business expansion.
  • Treasury Stock (or Shares): This refers to shares that a company has bought back from its shareholders. Treasury stock reduces the shareholders’ funds because it represents an amount spent by the company to buy back its own shares.
  • Other Comprehensive Income: This includes items that are not included in the net income but directly affect the equity, such as unrealized gains or losses on available-for-sale securities or foreign currency translation adjustments.

Example of Shareholders’ Funds

Let’s dive into a more detailed fictional scenario to illustrate the concept of shareholders’ funds.

Example: EcoFriendly Motors Inc., a company that designs and manufactures electric vehicles.

Balance Sheet Extract:


  • Cash: $500,000
  • Property, Plant, and Equipment: $2 million
  • Inventory: $300,000
  • Accounts Receivable: $200,000
  • Total Assets: $3 million


  • Short-term Debt: $500,000
  • Long-term Debt: $1 million
  • Accounts Payable: $200,000
  • Total Liabilities: $1.7 million


  • Common Stock (Share Capital): $500,000
  • Retained Earnings: $600,000
  • General Reserve: $150,000
  • Treasury Stock: -$50,000 (the company bought back some of its shares)
  • Total Equity (Shareholders’ Funds): ? (Let’s calculate)


Using the formula:
Shareholders’ Funds (Equity) = Total Assets − Total Liabilities

Equity = $3 million – $1.7 million
Equity = $1.3 million

Using the breakdown provided in the equity section:
Shareholders’ Funds = Common Stock + Retained Earnings + General Reserve− Treasury Stock

Shareholders’ Funds = $500,000 + $600,000 + $150,000 – $50,000
Shareholders’ Funds = $1.2 million

It seems we have a discrepancy here. The direct method of calculation (Assets minus Liabilities) provides a total equity of $1.3 million, while summing the equity components gives us $1.2 million. In real-life scenarios, such discrepancies could be due to various factors like other equity components not listed, rounding off numbers, or errors in reporting.

However, for the sake of our example, let’s assume there was an additional unmentioned equity component, such as “Other Comprehensive Income,” which accounted for the $100,000 difference, bringing our total equity to $1.3 million, aligning with our direct calculation.

This example demonstrates how shareholders’ funds can be derived from a company’s balance sheet. The sum of the equity components should match the difference between the total assets and total liabilities.

Other Posts You'll Like...

Want to Pass as Fast as Possible?

(and avoid failing sections?)

Watch one of our free "Study Hacks" trainings for a free walkthrough of the SuperfastCPA study methods that have helped so many candidates pass their sections faster and avoid failing scores...