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Questions to ask your accountant - Financial understanding for the terrified

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by Startacus Admin

Guest Contributor for Startacus Jo Haigh returns to highlight her top list to ask your accountant when they provide you with your management or year-end figures...

"Financial understanding for the terrified"

For many the novice business person, or quite frankly even for those somewhat more jaded operators, financial understanding is not great.questions to ask your accountant

Funders, accountants and other financial professionals have a tendency to use a substantial amount of technical terminology that the average owner manager is totally unfamiliar with. Gearing return on capital employed, PE ratios, the acid test and the like sound to those not used to these words like a foreign language.

Unfortunately not everyone feels confident in admitting their ignorance of such matters, and can quickly be blinded by this plethora of jargon, picking up a nodding dog syndrome in an attempt to avoid looking stupid.

A good quality adviser should of course be aware of this and indeed sensitive to this issue in its wider sense. Sadly too many financial people have inadequate emotional intelligence and insufficient communication skills to deal with such matters in the right way. Therefore it falls to the owner manager to find out what questions they need to ask and to do so without fear.

Here is my top list to ask your accountant when they provide you with your management or year-end figures.

  • Where is my profit if it isn't cash in the bank?

  • How many stock / WIP / debtor/creditor / days have I got and what does that mean in terms of cash tied up in the business

  • What is my monthly break even number in £

  • Is my liquidity improving? This will impress them with your knowledge of the word, what it means is have you more available cash to spend. Whether he answers yes or no ask why so you know what action to take

These won't make you an FD but then I am sure it’s not a role you will particularly covet BUT they should help you improve the performance of your business."

Cheers Jo for these pointers. If you like this post, you might want to also read a couple of her previous posts on Is there such a chemical formula for a start-up business? and "building better businesses" and if you are looking for more finance related posts - check out Joshua Boyd's recent guest post for Startacus on the impact (so far!) of Real Time Information.

About Jo: For further information on this topic, please see Jo’s book: Finance for Non-Financial Managers available to buy from Amazon. Jo Haigh is Partner at fds Corporate Finance and Cracking Boards, the winner of the Sunday Times NED of the year award, and latest book: The Keys to the Boardroom, how to get there and how to stay there, due for release October 2013. 

Email: [email protected] / Telephone: 01924 376784 / 01484 860501

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Published on: 22nd July 2013

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