Small business owners have many reasons to thumb through the pages of a financial report. You may be a potential shareholder or investor, or you may be a supplier or customer. Enterprising competitors may find answers to their questions in a financial report, too. Since most companies require that requests for a financial report be placed in writing, a letter is the way to secure one. You can follow any number of templates to ensure that your business letter follows the proper format, but some tips from financial experts can help you with the all-important content.

Be Specific

At the top of your request letter, state the of the financial report, the reference number, the date it was published or any other identifying information you're privy to. Include your contact information at the bottom of the letter. It may be useful if the company has questions about your request and needs more information from you to fulfill the request.

Don't Offer Explanations

You've heard that “less is more." Apply that maxim to your request letter. It may be human nature to want to explain yourself, but you're under no obligation to explain why you want or need the financial report. In the words of credit manager and author Michael C. Dennis, “Make your request seem completely routine.” If you think you might get a call from the company about your request, you'd want that call to be about a minor detail. Since you don't want to raise suspicions about your intentions, and you certainly don't want to see your request denied, be perfunctory.

Mind Your Manners

Adopting a polite, professional tone is important in any business letter. But requesting a financial report raises the stakes ever so slightly. Ensure that you use proper grammar, and be gracious and formal to a fault. For example, offer to pay a fee for the report. Include an oversized, stamped, self-addressed envelope to enable the processing of your request to be as easy as possible.

Limit Your Query

If you want several financial reports from the same source – say, for example, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission – limit your query. “One company name with multiple filings may be requested in one letter,” the SEC states. “However, multiple company names should be broken into separate requests.”

Mark Your Calendar

It follows that if you need a financial report to make an informed business decision, being apprised of any changing financial conditions could be equally valuable to you. For this reason, consider forwarding a request that you also want an updated financial report once a year. Outdated financial reports are like a copy of last week's newspaper: interesting to read for historical purposes but not a rationale for making a timely financial decision.