Finance and accounting will undoubtedly impact your career, regardless of your industry or role.
If you’re a business professional, your performance is most likely measured by the value you bring to your company. If you work for a non-profit, your salary is determined by the organization’s budget. Financial accounting is how investors gain insight into companies they want to invest in. It is how you determine whether your business is successful and communicate its performance to others if you are an entrepreneur.
Most professionals can benefit from learning financial accounting skills for these reasons. The following is a look at the most important financial accounting skills to develop and how to do so.
WHO NEEDS FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE?
Developing financial skills can benefit almost everyone. The following individuals, in particular, can benefit significantly from improving their understanding of basic financial concepts:
- Recent university graduates: Many college graduates, particularly those who did not major in business, may never take a course in basic financial accounting. By gaining this understanding, college graduates will be able to communicate more effectively with potential employers and link their efforts to the financial goals of the organisation.
- Current or aspiring executives: A manager must understand how the performance of their team affects the company’s bottom line. It can be difficult to make informed decisions, demonstrate return on investment, and present a compelling case when requesting an increase in budget or resources without this understanding.
- Those considering an MBA: Those thinking about getting an MBA should know that financial accounting is a large part of the curriculum in most MBA programmes. If you’re thinking about getting an MBA, honing your skills can help you finish your programme and get a taste of the type of work you’ll be doing.
Many others, including business professionals, individual investors, entrepreneurs, and non-profit employees, can benefit from developing financial and accounting skills.
SKILLS IN FINANCIAL ACCOUNTING
1. Financial Statement Analysis
There’s no better place to start when assessing a company’s financial health, whether it’s your own, your employer, or a potential investment than its financial statements. These documents contain a wealth of data that can be used to inform everything from budgeting and product development to business strategy and decision-making. Simply put, being able to read financial statements is essential.
You should become acquainted with various types of financial statements. Among the most significant are:
- Financial statements: These documents provide information about a company’s “book” value and total all of the assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity of the organisation.
- Cash flow statements: These documents provide information about a company’s cash flow from operations, investments, and financing.
- Annual reports: Annual reports summarise a company’s economic activity for the previous year while also using storytelling to communicate its progress toward initiatives and goals.
2. Financial Statement Analysis
Financial statements must be analysed in order to provide true value. You can use the data to calculate key ratios or other financial metrics, such as gross and net profit margins, working capital, debt-to-equity ratio, and inventory turnover, to gain a more detailed understanding of a company’s financial health.
Developing these analytical skills will help you in many other areas of your career. If you work in management and are thinking about changing jobs, analysing publicly available financial statements can help you assess the company’s health and determine if it’s a good career move. If you decide to stay with your current company, being able to focus on key metrics and offer potential ways to improve them can help you make a good impression with members of the executive team.
3. Producing Financial Statements
Financial statements are typically created by members of the accounting department and the executive suite in most organisations. However, for entrepreneurs and those working in a start-up environment, the responsibility of creating these critical documents may fall on them.
Understanding what information is contained in each financial statement, how to evaluate that information, and the story it tells is an essential skill for anyone interested in entrepreneurship or management.
4. Recognizing GAAP vs. IFRS Standards
To truly comprehend the information contained in financial statements, you must first understand the underlying frameworks that guide an organization’s accounting practices. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are the two main accounting standards you should be familiar with (IFRS).
GAAP and IFRS share many similarities but differ in important ways, most notably in how the balance sheets, cash flow statements, asset revaluation, and inventory valuation methods are treated. You must comprehend the similarities and differences in order to determine when each should be used, which will be determined in part by the audience (whether US-based or international).
5. Financial Planning
Financial forecasting is the process by which a company predicts future revenue, cash flow, and expenses. Forecasts are used by businesses to budget and plan for the future, as well as to provide insights to investors in financial reports.
Making a forecasting error or failing to account for risk can have serious consequences for a company’s ability to conduct business. As a result, learning how to prepare pro forma financial statements and forecast revenue and cash flow is an important business skill.
6. Return on Investment Calculation (ROI)
Calculating return on investment, or ROI, is another important financial skill that most business professionals can benefit from. ROI in business can be tied to a specific project, such as a product launch, or it can refer to an organization’s overall activities.
Some key terms to understand are:
- ROIC (return on invested capital): This is a ratio used to measure how efficiently a business allocates capital to profitable initiatives.
- Net present value (NPV): This is a calculation used to determine the value of future cash flows from a given project or initiative in today’s dollars.
- Internal rate of return (IRR): This metric is used to predict how profitable a potential investment will be for a company.
- Payback period: The time it is expected to take for a company to recoup its initial investment.
7. Creating a Data-Driven Mindset
Reading or preparing financial statements, calculating ROI, and forecasting the future all necessitate interaction with massive amounts of data. To make use of that data, you must first comprehend it, evaluate it, and synthesise it. The information can then be used to inform key business decisions and strategies.
8. The Financial Language
Almost all business professionals can benefit from learning finance terminology.
You can improve your communication with others in your organisation by learning how to talk about finance and money—your supervisor and team, members of the executive team, and other key stakeholders. This allows you to link your efforts to the value you bring to the organisation and aids in the development of important working relationships.
If you work in management or interact with the financial team on a semi-regular basis, you probably already have a basic understanding of the language of finance. In that case, expanding your knowledge of financial terminology and metrics can help you become more effective. If you have no background in finance, developing this skill will have a particularly profound impact, as it will open up many new channels of communication both within and outside your organisation.