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Efficiency Ratio: Definition, Formula, and Example


Efficiency ratio in finance refers to a measure of a company’s ability to utilize its assets and liabilities to generate income, often used in banking sectors. The formula for calculating it is non-interest expenses divided by total revenue (minus interest expense), typically expressed as a percentage. For example, a lower efficiency ratio (below 50%) usually indicates a company is operating with strong financial efficiency, as it signifies less cost is associated with generating each unit of revenue.


Efficiency Ratio: /ɪˌfɪʃən’.si raʊʃi’oʊ/Definition: /ˌdɛfɪˈnɪʃən/Formula: /ˈfɔrmjələ/Example: /ɪɡˈzæmpəl/

Key Takeaways

  1. Definition – Efficiency Ratio is a financial metric used primarily in the banking industry. It measures how well a company uses its assets and liabilities internally. A lower efficiency ratio means that a company is using its assets more effectively.
  2. Formula – The formula for the efficiency ratio is Expenses / Revenue. It can also be calculated as Non-Interest Expense / (Revenue – Interest Expense). Both formulas measure how much cost is needed to generate a unit of revenue.
  3. Example – If a company has total expenses of $500,000 and total revenue of $1,000,000, the efficiency ratio would be 0.50 or 50%. This means that it costs the company 50 cents to generate a dollar of revenue. Efficiency ratios can vary widely by industry, but generally, lower percentages are preferred because they indicate more efficient operations.


The Efficiency Ratio is a key metric in business and finance that provides insights into a company’s operational efficiency. It is the ratio of non-interest expenses to revenue, meaning the lower the ratio, the more efficient the company is considered. This ratio is crucial as it not only enables businesses to benchmark and compare their efficiency with competitors, but it also helps identify areas that need improvement. For example, a high efficiency ratio may signal that a company is spending too much on operating costs, impacting profitability. On the other hand, a low ratio shows excellent utilization of resources and effective cost management. Therefore, the efficiency ratio serves as an invaluable tool for investors and decision-makers when evaluating a company’s financial health and operational efficiency.


The Efficiency Ratio is a financial metric that businesses use to gauge how well they are using their assets and liabilities internally. This ratio can be very beneficial for firms to discern how efficiently they are functioning in terms of operations and asset utilization. The primary purpose of the Efficiency Ratio is to provide insights into the internal workings of a company, aiding major decision-making processes regarding process improvement, cost-cutting, and operational efficiency. It identifies the speed of conversion of accounts receivables into cash or the time it takes for a company to turn inventory into sales. A lower Efficiency Ratio is generally favorable, suggesting the business is managing and utilizing its assets effectively to generate ample revenue.

In terms of measurement, the Efficiency Ratio is calculated by dividing the operational expenses by the net revenue. For example, if a firm has an operational expense of $50,000 and generated revenue of $200,000, then the Efficiency Ratio would be 0.25 or 25%. This implies that 25% of the company’s revenue is used to cover operational expenses. Such an analysis helps business leaders identify where they can further optimize operations to lower expenses and thus improve the Efficiency Ratio, contributing to a healthier and more profitable business model.


1. Banking Industry: Banks and other financial institutions often use the efficiency ratio, which compares non-interest expenses to revenue. For example, if Bank A has an efficiency ratio of 60%, that means it’s using 60 cents to generate a dollar of revenue. On the other hand, if Bank B has an efficiency ratio of 40%, it indicates higher efficiency as it only spends 40 cents to create a dollar of income. Therefore, the bank with the lower efficiency ratio is perceived to run more efficiently.

2. Retail Business: A large retailer like Walmart, for instance, might use the efficiency ratio to measure how well it’s controlling its costs. If Walmart reports an efficiency ratio of 20% it means it’s spending 20 cents to generate a dollar of sales revenue. However, if the next quarter the ratio goes up to 30%, it would imply that either their costs have increased, or their sales have declined, thereby decreasing their efficiency.

3. Manufacturing Industry: Let’s assume a car manufacturing company (Company A) has $200,000 in operating expenses and generates $500,000 in revenue. This would result in an efficiency ratio of 0.4, or 40%. If another car manufacturing company (Company B) also generates $500,000 in revenue but with $250,000 in operating expenses, Company B’s efficiency ratio would be 0.5, or 50%. Company A thus, is more efficient in its operation because it spends less to generate the same amount of revenue.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Efficiency Ratio?

The efficiency ratio is a financial metric used to analyze how a company uses its assets and liabilities in the internal process to generate income. It measures the ability of a company to generate income from its assets minus its liabilities.

How is the Efficiency Ratio calculated?

The formula for calculating the Efficiency Ratio is: Efficiency Ratio = Non-Interest Expense / (Revenue – Interest Expense)Here, non-interest expense refers to operational costs that are not associated with extending credit to customers, revenue is the company’s total earnings, and interest expense is the cost incurred by the company because of its borrowing activities.

Can you give an example of how to calculate the Efficiency Ratio?

Sure, let’s assume a company has a non-interest expense of $300,000, its revenue is $1,000,000, and it has an interest expense of $200,000. Using the formula:Efficiency Ratio = $300,000 / ($1,000,000 – $200,000) = 0.375 or 37.5%

What does the Efficiency ratio tell us about a company’s financial performance?

The efficiency ratio shows the expenses as a percentage of revenue. A lower ratio indicates the company has higher efficiency and profitability, while a higher ratio indicates inefficient management operations.

How can a company improve its Efficiency ratio?

A company can improve its efficiency ratio by reducing non-interest expenses (e.g., cutting operational costs), increasing revenues, or reducing interest expenses (like by refinancing debt for lower rates).

Is a lower Efficiency Ratio always better?

Although a lower Efficiency Ratio often implies better financial performance, it’s not always the case. Some industries naturally have higher overhead costs than others, so a higher ratio may not necessarily indicate inefficiency. The efficiency ratio should be compared among similar companies within the same industry for a fair comparison.

Is the Efficiency Ratio the same for all types of businesses?

Not quite. The Efficiency Ratio is widely used when evaluating financial institutions or banks, where non-interest expenses and interest expenses are major considerations. However, all types of businesses can use this ratio to understand how efficiently they are utilizing their assets and liabilities to generate income. But the norm can differ vastly depending on the industry.

Related Finance Terms

  • Operational Efficiency: This refers to the efficiency of converting inputs into outputs in an organization, which is crucial in determining the efficiency ratio.
  • Asset Utilization: This is a metric used to understand how a company uses its assets to generate revenue, which influences the efficiency ratio.
  • Cost-to-Income Ratio: This refers to the costs incurred to generate the revenue of the company. A lower cost-to-income ratio usually indicates a stronger efficiency ratio.
  • Overhead Ratio: This is the percentage of a company’s revenue that goes towards operating expenses. The lower the overhead ratio, the more efficient a company may be.
  • Example of Efficiency Ratio Calculation: In calculating the efficiency ratio for a bank, one might divide the bank’s non-interest expenses (excluding bad debts) by its revenue.

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