Frequently Asked Questions

Why are these courses different?

As far as possible, in these courses I use plain English to explain Financial Statements using my 40 years’ experience as a Chartered Accountant and more than 15 years’ experience teaching people in for-profit businesses, not-for-profit organisations and government business enterprises about financial statements. Where jargon is unavoidable, I explain what it means in simple, everyday English. The clear, colourful diagrams I use help too.

My experience is important. I remember, many years ago when I worked for a major oil company, explaining the annual report I’d had a big part in producing to some of the senior non-finance managers. Light bulbs lit up around the room. I’ve had similar reactions many times since. When explained in plain English, just like anything else, Financial Statements aren’t that difficult to understand and, as Albert Einstein said, ‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.’

There’s another saying: ‘If you want to learn something, teach it.’ I don’t like admitting it, but since I started teaching people about Financial Statements I’ve learned a lot about them too, despite having produced many sets of management and board reports and annual reports. That’s partly because non-finance people ask questions that finance people don’t or ask them in a different way and that’s made me think about what the questioner is really asking and why and how to explain it as simply as possible so they understand my answer. I think I’ve heard all the variations now, but I could be wrong!

So, why are these courses different? Because I’m experienced both in preparing Financial Statements and in teaching people in plain English how to read, analyse and use them in businesses, large, medium size and small, in many different industries and types of business. Experience counts.

How do I know I’ll get value for money? Are these courses worth the money?

I’m sure you wouldn’t expect me to say anything else but yes, the courses are value for and are worth the money. How can I demonstrate this?

  • Read the comments people who have taken my courses have made in the ‘Why Us’ page
  • View the free course and see if you think that overview of Financial Statements is worthwhile and you like my style
  • I’ve facilitated Australian Institute of Company Directors’ courses for more than 15 years and unless I had met their exacting standards, I wouldn’t have kept the gig
  • I facilitated my own courses, including Master Classes, for Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand and CPA Australia for many years. Again, they don’t ask you back if you don’t perform
  • Clients in the private and public sectors in industries as varied as health insurance, waste disposal, natural resources, local government and water management have asked me back multiple times to run courses for their business managers and directors
  • Over several years and many times for a private sector training provider, I facilitated my own courses on Finance Essentials for Business Managers
  • As a Chartered Accountant I have ethical standards to meet.
No matter how simply financial statements are explained, I still don't get it. How do I know that you’ll deliver?

I’ve taught many business proprietors, business managers and company directors in the for-profit, not-for-profit and public sectors about financial statements for more than 15 years and in that time have honed my techniques and language to explain them as simply as possible. I’ve found that different people ask similar questions time after time – for example about financial jargon, accounting concepts, the difference between profit and cash flow, or whatever – and there are some common misunderstandings (depreciation is in that category) so I’ve designed these courses to answer those questions without you needing to ask them.

Having said that, when trying to keep things simple (but not simplistic) no course can cover absolutely everything in every business’s Financial Statements, because every business is different and so are their Financial Statements. These courses cover the ‘98%’ and usually the other 2% doesn’t matter much to most people. For example, Financial Statements for businesses in some industries contain items that no others do, use unique industry-specific language and your business may account for some things differently from the norm. I’ve prepared Financial Statements for businesses in many different industries so I know how varied they can be.

My aim is to ensure you can use your business’s Financial Statements to do your job well. My commitment to you isn’t confined to the courses themselves but the ‘2%’ too. If you have questions specific to your business’s Financial Statements or, indeed about anything in these courses, please email them to me and I’ll respond as soon as I can, usually within 24 hours. My email address is on the Contact page.

(If you do want courses tailored specifically for your business, email me as I’ve run courses for many different businesses in many different industries over the years. I’d be pleased to tailor courses to meet your specific requirements, for example, using your business’s specific jargon and financial statements).

These courses will be boring because financial statements are boring. How do I know I won’t fall asleep?

Any topic can be boring if it’s not explained well. In the more than 15 years in which I’ve run courses on financial statements I’ve never had anyone fall asleep or leave. On the contrary, I’ve had numerous people say that I engaged them and that I maintained their interest in what, admittedly, can be a boring topic in the wrong hands. Some people have said that at the beginning of a course they were terrified of numbers and at the end say how much they enjoyed the course and are surprised at how much they’ve learned.

In addition, throughout the courses are quizzes designed to embed what you’ve learned. They also help to keep you engaged but if you do start nodding off or have brain overload, take a break and come back to it later. You can break off whenever and wherever you like and come back whenever and wherever (in the course and physically) you like.

I recommend that when taking the courses, you don’t sit in an easy chair with the lights low and soft music playing while sipping a glass of wine. Take them seriously; sit at a desk in a quiet space with pen in hand ready to make notes on the booklet that you can download with each course.

Financial Statements are important and as the stories they tell can boost your career, as well as the financial returns for the business, I’m sure you’ll be engaged.

Do I need to take all the courses or just one or two?

The short answer is it’s up to you! If you just want to know about Income Statements (Profit & Loss Accounts) and you aren’t interested in anything else, then just take that course. If you just want to know how to analyse Financial Statements because you think you already know enough about the Financial Statements themselves, then just take the course FS4 Analysing Financial Statements. If you’re not sure, take one course initially; you can always enrol for the others afterwards.

However, all three Financial Statements – the Income Statement (Profit & Loss Account), Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement – are important and understanding what’s in the course FS5 Behind the Numbers deepens your learning. This isn’t an academic thing; it’s a practical thing. Frankly, you won’t properly understand your Financial Statements unless you take this course – that’s why it’s there.

As for the course FS6 Financial Statements for Groups, unless you’re in a small business with no subsidiaries, business units, business segments and the like, then this, too, deepens your learning so that you understand your Financial Statements more deeply.

The FS4 Analysing Financial Statements course enables you to get the maximum benefit from your Financial Statements. It leverages the knowledge you gain in the other courses and takes your understanding of your business’s financial performance to another level enabling you to make better decisions to drive performance.

In what order should I take the courses?

Again, this is up to you and there is some flexibility but I recommend this order:

FS1  Income Statements Explained – reading them to improve financial results

FS2  Balance Sheets Explained – reading them to manage capital and improve financial returns

FS3  Cash Flow Statements Explained – reading them to manage the cash and avoid insolvency

FS4  Analysing Financial Statements – to drive results, returns and ratios

FS5  Behind the Numbers – the rules and five fundamental concepts for a deeper understanding of financial statements

FS6  Financial Statements for Groups – subsidiaries, associates, segments, business units, profit & cost centres and joint ventures.

It probably wouldn’t make much difference if you took courses FS4 and FS5 the other way around but I strongly recommend that you don’t take courses FS4, FS5 and FS6 unless you’ve completed or otherwise understand the content of courses FS1 – 3. It really is up to you and partly depends on what you already know, what your priorities are and so on. Whether you take all the courses or only some, as a business manager, business proprietor or company director, at the end of the day you really should know the content of them all. If you are unsure, email me and I’d be pleased to help.