Financial Contract Types and More Explained for CFOs and Finance Pros

by | May 3, 2024

Navigating corporate finance requires a solid understanding of financial agreements essential for CFOs and finance professionals. These contracts play a vital role in corporate finance, helping businesses manage risks, secure funding, and facilitate mergers and acquisitions. In this guide, we will explore types of financial contracts commonly used by CFOs and finance professionals.

What is a financial contract?

One specific financial contract definition does not exist. In the broad sense, financial contracts are legally binding agreements that outline the terms and conditions of a transaction between two or more parties. Overall they provide documentation of the agreed upon exchange of specified financial assets, under specific conditions between separate entities. They help in structuring financial deals, managing risks, and defining the obligations and rights of all parties involved.

Types of financial contracts

Beyond the standard banking and finance contracts like securities, options, and futures or qualified financial contracts like swaps and forwards, several other types of financial agreements outline the terms and conditions by which entities agree to exchange assets or resources with one another. Each type has its specifics, legal requirements, and risk profiles, making them suitable for different purposes and situations.

These contracts can be complex and vary widely, but here are examples of the most common types:


A lease is a contract in which one party (the lessee) agrees to rent property owned by another party (the lessor). It ensures the lessee use of the asset and guarantees the lessor regular payments for a specified period of time. Often used for land and commercial real estate, leases can also encompass the rental of hardware, warehouse space, vehicles, and various types of equipment, to name a few. Understanding the nuance of amortization schedules, residual value, and potential buy-outs is critical for a finance professional steering their company toward fiscal success.

Software subscriptions

Imperative in the age of digital transformation, software subscriptions have emerged as indispensable tools. Annual, monthly, or usage-based, these contracts dictate more than just access; they define utilization costs and strategic technological investments that directly impact the bottom line. From the complex verbiage of end-user license agreements (EULAs) to the practical concerns of service level agreements (SLAs), cover all aspects of software application usage.

Insurance policies

Contracts where the insurer agrees to compensate the insured in the event of a specified loss, damage, illness, or death, in return for payment of a premium. Insurance policies serve as financial protection against unforeseen events and are an essential component of risk management for individuals and businesses alike. For the guardian of company assets, insurance contracts provide a sense of security in a volatile world.

Debt agreements

Debt agreements dictate the terms and conditions by which one entity borrows and repays funds from another. Interest rates, loan covenants, and collateral are some of the various components defined within a debt agreement. These contracts are crucial in facilitating the flow of capital and financing for businesses and the economy. Several categories of debt agreements exist within the corporate world, with a few of the more prevalent ones listed below.

  • Loan Agreements: Sometimes used interchangeably, a loan agreement can be a type of debt. Loans are specifically contracts where one party lends money to another, which the borrower agrees to repay with interest over a specified period.
  • Credit Agreements: A credit agreement outlines the terms of a line of credit or revolving credit between a borrower and a lender, detailing the maximum and minimum amounts of credit available, interest rate, the terms for repayment and/or additional borrowing, and the collateral, if any.
  • Mortgages: Mortgages are a specific type of loan used to purchase real estate. The property itself serves as collateral for the loan until it is paid in full.
  • Forbearance Agreements: In the context of a loan, forbearance is an agreement between the lender and borrower to temporarily postpone repayment due to the borrower’s financial difficulties, avoiding default or foreclosure.

Sales agreements

Sales contracts represent the very heartbeat of transactions. Crafted with precision, they encapsulate the fundamental details of a product or service exchange. Price, delivery terms, warranties, the fine print of insurance — are all part of this narrative. These are pivotal for cash flow projections and risk mitigation, covering key aspects such as price, delivery terms, warranties, and insurance details.

One subset of sales agreements is a sale and purchase agreement (SPA). SPAs are often used in the sale of a business or real estate, where they describe the agreement between the buyer and the seller, including the assets to be sold, the purchasing price, the closing details, and warranties.

Service contracts

When the product being sold is a service, a different set of contractual parameters comes to the fore. These agreements are often the backbone of consulting, marketing, and other professional service organizations, shaping deliverables and performance matrices that are financially tethered. Service contracts can be for a specific service or deliverable, a set amount of time, or a combination of both.

Supplier contracts

Supplier contracts mean different things in various industries, for example a manufacturer may have agreements for raw materials or components necessary for their product while a retail store will need to purchase merchandise to sell. A CFO’s command of supplier contracts is tantamount to the smooth operation of the corporate machinery. Negotiating prices, procure-to-pay process management, and quality assurance — each falls under the supplier contract purview.

Utility contracts

Utilities are more than just providers; they are sustenance for business continuity. They regulate usage, billing cycles, and often, strategic partnerships for energy efficiency and sustainability.

Development contracts

The realm of research and development delineates the cutting edge of corporate endeavors. Development contracts dictate the terms of innovation, bridging the conceptual with the tangible. They outline investment returns, intellectual property rights, agreed upon milestones, and the cultivation of intangible assets.

Equity agreements

In the context of corporate finance, equity agreements are contracts which grant shareholders ownership of an entity. They detail the equity rights among the shareholders of a corporation, including the equity ownership, voting rights, and stipulations for buying or selling equity.

Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE) notes are a type of equity agreement often used in early-stage startups. These notes are agreements between an investor and a company that provide rights to the investor for future equity in the company without determining a specific price per share at the time of the initial investment.


In corporate finance, many categories of financial contracts detail how money is exchanged, and how risk and reward are managed. This complex information is crucial for CFOs and finance professionals. FinQuery Contract Management streamlines and secures the management of diverse financial agreements. It enhances organization, monitoring, and analysis of contracts ranging from loans to insurance policies. Automated alerts for compliance and deadlines mitigate risks, while a central repository improves operational efficiency and collaboration. Advanced analytics offer insight into contract performance, making it a crucial asset for CFOs and finance professionals seeking to optimize management, reduce administrative burdens, and maintain compliance within a complex financial landscape.

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