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What does it take to present financial packages well to stakeholders/shareholders?

A blog post recently written sparked several comments here on Proformative as well as on LinkedIn. I don’t want to focus on the negative comments regardless of the platform on which they were posted because it would take away from the author’s incredible content (the majority of which I found myself in agreement). However, one person commented that in order to present financials their opinion was that it couldn’t be done by someone at a bachelor’s degree level. “It must be done at post graduates or masters level after some experience in the industry,” was the commenter’s opinion. While opinions are just that, I had to respectfully disagree. I’ve learned more about presenting financials by being involved in this community, LinkedIn, being mentored by successful professionals, and reading materials as part of formal and informal continuing education. How did you hone your skills in presenting your company’s financial package? What does it take to present financial packages?

Answers

Topic Expert
Charley Kyd
Title: Founder
Company: ExcelUser
(Founder, ExcelUser) |

I learned most from my mistakes.

I can remember telling myself--as a very young, non-degreed management accountant--that I wasn't sure what my managers wanted in their reports; so I'd just give them everything and let them read what they wanted.

That is, because I lacked both a degree and experience, I didn't have the confidence to admit my ignorance. As a consequence, I tended to bury my managers in many pages of reports, most of which they never read.

These days, with an MBA and decades of experience, I'd sit down with my VIPs and ask what information they want to see and why. And because many of them don't really know what they want to see, I'd also show them mock-ups of some reports, and ask what they like or dislike about them. And WHY.

The "why" is important. Not only does the question teach us more about the company and the VIPs' needs, it helps us to create reports that we know the VIPs will read.

And more than in my early days, I'd work much harder to make my reports as easy as possible to consume. Management reports should EXPLAIN performance in an obvious way, not merely document it with pages of detail.

The advanced degree is useful in this context because it provides a larger menu of reporting options: correlations, Pareto (80-20), standard errors, economic influences, free cash flow, and so on.

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

It is all about the reader/consumer of the presentation. What they think they need/use, what they really need/use and what you know can "sell" that they need/use.

It all depends on how involved, knowledgeable or nurturing your share/stakeholders are and most of all how they give and receive feedback. It does NOT matter if the person presenting has a Masters degree or a Bachelors or has 10 years of experience. I have presented financial info and audit findings to the Audit Committee as well as the full board since DAY 1 of my career. And I have been fortunate enough to have been "guided" on what they need or want to see and certainly entertain my thoughts on issues.

It is certainly a hit and miss but just like any relationship, you get to know what they want and they get comfortable with your capabilities/skills/knowledge as time goes on.

One thing is for sure, it is NOT a one size fits all. And most certainly it is NOT just one way for everything....and a Master's Degree, a Bachelor's Degree or 20 years of experience can NOT guarantee that what you are presenting is a home run.
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