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Communicating Financial Information to a Non-Financial Audience. IABC International Conference June 27, 2005 Washington, D.C. James D. Cole, CPA Email questions to [email protected]

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communicating financial information to a non financial audience

Communicating Financial Information to a Non-Financial Audience

IABC International Conference

June 27, 2005

Washington, D.C.

James D. Cole, CPA

Email questions to [email protected]

Disclaimer: This presentation is made in support of the educational efforts of the participants and should not be deemed to represent professional advice of a legal, accounting or investment nature. The application of these concepts as presented is necessarily dependent on the circumstances of each situation and would therefore require appropriate consultation with professional service providers before implementation.

communicating financial information to a non financial audience2
Communicating Financial Information to a Non-Financial Audience

GOAL

……Learn what does and does not need to be said and how to “walk through” critical information with non-financial audiences. Also learn how to obtain better information from accountants and financial experts to improve YOUR communication efforts.

objectives and highlights
Objectives and Highlights
  • Sifting the chaff-- what does and does not need to be communicated
  • Lighting the path—relating to your audience
  • Pointing out the potholes—emphasize the critical data
  • Walking together—establishing ongoing communication helpful to all
who cares
Who Cares?

Poor financial communication examples

  • Enron ( i.e.—Where did Arthur Anderson go?)
  • Worldcom (see above)
  • Internet stock “bubble”
  • NBA (National Benevolent Association)The organization operates more than 90 nursing homes, senior facilities and children’s homes nationwide. $369M in assets, $293M of liabilities, now in Chapter 11
who cares5
Who Cares?

Integral role in financial communication

  • Both internal and external communications
  • Departmental budgets
  • Investor/constituent relations
background of communication
Background of communication

Internet definitions of communication

  • The activity of communicating; the activity of conveying information; “they could not act without official communication from Moscow”

www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn

background of communication7
Background of communication
  • A connection allowing access between persons or places; “a secret passageway provided communication between the two rooms”

www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn

background of communication8
Background of Communication

The act of transmitting verbal and non-verbal information and understanding between seller and buyer.

www.ncn-ltd.co.uk/sellingtaster/misc/glossary.htm

instructor definition of communication
Instructor Definition of Communication

“the transfer of an idea, concept, data or other information from one person to another”

instructor definition of noise
Instructor Definition of NOISE

“Unwanted sound, or the FAILURE to successfully transfer an idea, concept, data or other information from one person to another”

communication and noise common attributes
Communication and Noise – Common Attributes

Both can result in action

  • Decision to proceed with true information
  • Decision to proceed with inaccurate information
  • Decision to NOT listen
intent of financial communication
Intent of Financial Communication
  • Report card of activity and status
  • Provide credibility
  • Stimulate thought or action
problems from the beginning
Problems from the Beginning
  • Poor preparation by communicator
      • What is SPECIFIC intent?
        • Varies from type of data (i.e. audit versus budget)
      • Communicator lacks information
        • Background of data
        • Goal of audience
what about the experts
What About the Experts?

Role of CPA

Per Virginia Society of CPA’s website, “One advantage of working with CPAs is that they speak your language” …..” they are adept at untangling financial as well as non-financial puzzles and illustrating the total picture with clarity and objectivity” ….

communicating with the experts
Communicating with the Experts
  • Ask questions your audience will likely ask of you
  • Define terms in common language
  • Determine your communication goals
poor preparation by recipient audience
Poor Preparation by Recipient (audience)

Homework

  • Data supplied by communicator

Knowledge base

  • Lack of training/experience
environment for delivery not conducive
Environment for Delivery not Conducive
  • Time and place for every communication
  • Distractions (i.e. audit report at end of long agenda)
communication planning
Communication Planning
  • Thorough knowledge of raw information
  • Understand audience
  • Agree on motive, approaches
  • Provide material ahead of presentations
biggest issue in communicating
Biggest Issue in Communicating
  • Every audience starts at one place
    • WHY should I listen?
      • Does it affect me?
      • Does it affect someone I know?
critical concept
CRITICAL CONCEPT
  • RELATE to the audience
    • Sales people want SALES data
    • Cash managers want cash, not accruals
    • Stockholders want EPS, etc.
    • Executives—BIGGER picture and bottom line
    • The public – WHY do I need to know?
pitfalls
Pitfalls
  • Acronyms –FASB, GASB, RevProc, etc.
  • Technical complexities
  • Skipping footnotes or appendices
  • Small font
  • Endless lists of data
  • Pennies in reports
more pitfalls
MORE Pitfalls
  • Using accounting to explain accounting
  • Failing to explain relevance
  • Overuse or improper use of technical terms
better mousetraps
Better mousetraps
  • Charts, graphs
  • Overviews, even for audited reports
  • Plain language
  • Use examples audience can relate to

Refer to products (sales of cars, etc.)

Use the terminology of your audience

explain some terms
Explain Some Terms
  • Depreciation
  • Deferred Taxes
  • Deferred Revenue
  • Budget Variance
  • Extraordinary items
audience examples
Audience Examples
  • Biggest complaint from audience
  • Worst experience from audience
  • Best tip from audience
objectives and highlights again
Objectives and Highlights-AGAIN
  • Sifting the chaff-- what does and does not need to be communicated
  • Lighting the path—relating to your audience
  • Pointing out the potholes—emphasize the critical data
  • Walking together—establishing ongoing communication helpful to all
slide31
Websites for reference
  • http://www72.homepage.villanova.edu/susan.stiner/cgu/2003Files/comm03.htm
  • http://www.wolfkeens.com/BIGPICTURE/pages/wp10.html
  • http://www.ibm.com/investor/financialguide/
  • http://www.onlinewbc.gov/docs/finance/fs_intro.html
  • http://www.kodak.com/US/en/corp/annualReport03/index.shtml
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