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Accountants overcomplicate everything

Richard Feynman said,

“If you can’t explain something to a first year student, then you haven’t really understood.”

Feynman was talking about physics but I think the same sentiment applies to accounting and finance. Except, instead of a first year student you should be able to explain finance to a non-financial manager.

If your audience is not made up of qualified accountants you need to use simpler language. With a non-financial manager you can’t hide behind terminology like amortisation and volume variance. The manager might think or pretend they know what those terms mean because accountants have been using them but can you be sure that they actually do? Much better to explain what you mean in simple terms.

I think this advice applies whether you are writing a report about a new proposal or giving a presentation about the balance sheet. (Soufyan Hamid wrote a post yesterday that asked how can you make the balance sheet interesting? One way would be to talk about the balance sheet in terms of what it really means for your business. If you use phrases like non-current assets and contingent liabilities you deserve people stop listening!)

Lastly, invite the audience to ask questions about anything they don’t understand. That way you will both be able to learn something.

Gary Bandy Limited is a company registered in Cardiff, number 5660437.

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