Financial Acumen

Whether managing their own business, a business unit of a large organisation, a sales operation, or a cost centre, managers know how important it is to understand their financial reports. So how do they rate their financial smarts? Would they like to feel more confident in this area?

Over many years of working with managers, they often confide in us that they have been in meetings, terrified someone is going to ask them questions about their financial reports. Others have told us that when the finance person starts talking, they cannot understand large parts of what is being said.

Unfortunately, it is also our observation that financial literacy skills do not necessarily align with seniority – many senior managers have not been given the benefit of education in this topic yet are expected to manage budgets worth millions!

So what do they know?

A basic level of financial understanding for business managers and decision makers should incorporate financial planning, costing and budgeting. The following areas of business finance may be considered essential for effective management:

  • Understanding financial reports: Income Statement, Balance Sheet, Cash Flow Statements
  • Key financial ratios: Profitability, Capital Structure, Return on Investment, Liquidity Ratios
  • Business finance: The Business Cycle, Planning, Year End Activities, Expense Control
  • Budgeting and Costing: Budget setting, monitoring and control, Variance Analysis, Cost planning and control

Do your managers understand the following?

  • What is a balance sheet?
  • Why is it important to understand cash flow? Does your organisation measure Free Cash Flow and how is this measured? Do they understand how they can positively impact working capital?’
  • What is equity and gearing and why are they so crucial to a business looking to raise more capital?
  • What are EBIT and EBITDA and why do so many businesses focus on one of these?
  • What impact does depreciation have on their cash flow?
  • How they can improve their current levels of profit and revenue? What are their key cost drivers and levers?
  • Which customers/clients are the most and least profitable?
  • How to write a compelling business case?

Tip: Refer to our Financial Fitness Test below to see 30 questions which we believe every manager should be able to answer.

Effective financial management is a powerful factor in the success of any business. Many businesses fail – or fail to reach their full potential – not because they aren’t making enough revenue, but because of poor cash management.

We understand that operational leaders are probably not looking to become finance experts, however understanding the language of finance is vital to the future success of their organisation. Without strong financial management by those running the operations, the business could fail.

Our programs are designed specifically for your business needs. We start by understanding your brief – what are the objectives of the program? We will then design a practical, engaging and fun program to ensure your participants leave the program ready to put their stronger financial management skills into practice.

Virtual delivery

Whilst face-to-face delivery is always preferred, we can now design programs to be delivered virtually. A modular approach of 1.5 – 2 hour sessions is recommended, which allows for application of learning as topics are covered. Each session is designed to be highly interactive – for more details and an example program click here.

Financial Acumen Self-Assessment

So how do you rate your financial smarts? Let's put them to the test with this 3 minute quiz!