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Solvency vs. Liquidity: Difference Between Solvency and Liquidity

Both solvency and liquidity measure the business’ financial health and its ability to pay debts, but with a few notable differences.

While liquidity is a short-term concept that measures the business’ ability to use current assets to meet its short-term obligations, solvency has a long-term focus. It measures whether the business is viable and able to meet long-term financial commitments.

What this article covers:

What Does Liquidity Mean in Accounting?

How Do You Assess Solvency?

What Is the Difference Between Solvency and Liquidity?

What Does Liquidity Mean in Accounting?

In accounting, liquidity refers to the ability of a business to pay its liabilities on time. Current assets and a large amount of cash are evidence of high liquidity levels.

It also refers to how easily an asset can be converted into cash on short notice and at a minimal discount. Assets such as stocks and bonds are liquid since they have an active market with many buyers and sellers. Companies that lack liquidity can be forced into bankruptcy even if it’s solvent.

How Do You Assess Solvency?

Solvency refers to the business’ long-term financial position. A solvent business is one that has positive net worth – the total assets are more than the total liabilities.

Solvency is assessed using solvency ratios. These ratios measure the ability of the business to pay off its long-term debts and interest on debts.

What Is Solvency Ratio Formula?

The formula for the solvency ratio is:
(Net after-tax income + Non-cash expenses) / (Short-term liabilities + Long-term liabilities)

The solvency ratio calculation involves the following steps:

Calculate the approximate cash flow generated by business by adding the after-tax business income to all the non-cash expenses.

Add the short-term and long-term business liabilities.

Divide the adjusted net income by the total liabilities.

What Is Solvency Risk?

Solvency risk is the risk that the business cannot meet its financial obligations as they come due for full value even after disposal of its assets. A business that is completely insolvent is unable to pay its debts and will be forced into bankruptcy. Investors should examine all the financial statements of a company to make certain the business is solvent as well as profitable.

What Is the Difference Between Solvency and Liquidity?

Basis for Comparison

Liquidity

Solvency

Definition

Liquidity is defined as the business’ ability to pay off current liabilities with current assets

Solvency measures the business’ ability to meet its debts as they fall due for payment

 

Obligation

Short-term liabilities

Long-term obligations

 

What It Describes

How easily assets are converted to cash

How well the business sustains itself in the long run

 

Ratios

The ratios that measure the liquidity of a business are known as liquidity ratios. These include current ratio, acid test ratio, quick ratio etc.

 

The solvency of the business is determined by solvency ratios. These are interest coverage ratio, debt to equity ratio and the fixed asset to net worth ratio

 

Risk

The risk is pretty low. However, it does affect the creditworthiness of the business

 

The risk is extremely high as insolvency can lead to bankruptcy

Balance Sheet

Current assets, current liabilities and detailed account of every item beneath them

 

Debt, shareholders’ equity and long-term assets

 

Impact on Each Other

If solvency is high, liquidity can be achieved within a short period of time

 

If liquidity is high, solvency may not be achieved quickly

 

Solvency and liquidity are both important concepts. While both measure the ability of an entity to pay its debts, they cannot be used interchangeably as they are different in scope and purpose.

However, it’s important to understand both these concepts as they deal with delays in paying liabilities which can cause serious problems for a business.

Customers and vendors may be unwilling to do business with a company that has financial problems. In extreme cases, a business can be thrown into involuntary bankruptcy.

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