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  Reading accounts and making sense of them

Do you look at a set of figures and go brain-dead?  This e-learning course will help you understand the jargon of accounts; enable you to see how a company's accounts tie in to the actual business and how they reflect the performance of the company. 

We will show you how to analyse the figures that actually drive companies, and help you compare different types of companies in your sector.  We will help you see how the accounts tell the story of a company and enable you to understand what is really happening and get a good picture of what the company is doing.

If you're worried that your maths isn’t up to it, don’t be.  If you need help we’ll take you through simple arithmetic and a step-by-step way to calculate the percentages that are so important in working out how a company is doing.  If you know what you’re doing you can simply skip that section.

We'll show you how to analyse margins, break-even points, business efficiency, RoTA (Return  on Total Assets); RoE (Return on Equity) and Asset turn. And we’ll give you Excel templates that you can use to analyse your own set of figures. 

There is also a comprehensive financial glossary that you can use throughout which explains all the jargon.

The course comes in 4 parts:

  • Part 1 - Introduction and the Profit and Loss account
  • Part 2 - Balance Sheet and linking the P&L and the Balance Sheet
  • Part 3 - Cash flow accounts
  • Part 4 - Four different types of companies

Suitable for:
Anyone who wants to be able to read and see a picture in accounts, and not just a blur of numbers on a page.  It is also suitable for journalists who need some simple tools and techniques so they can really see what's happening and get a good idea of what and how a company is doing so that they can create stories out of data.

Looking for an in-company course?

Course content includes
 The purpose of business and the Purpose of accounts
 Percentages - how to calculate:
 Percentage of another number
 Percentage of a total sum
 Percentage of growth or decline
 Three types of accounts:
 Profit and Loss
 Balance sheet
 Cash flow
 Definition of items
 Turnover / Sales / Revenue
 Earnings / Profits
 The Profit and Loss account - understanding:
 Cost of sales
 Gross profit
 Administrative expenses
 Operating profit
 Pre-tax profits
 Post-tax profits or EBITA
 The difference between Gross and Net
 How to analyse the P&L
 Margin - working out for each sale how much is profit
 Break-even point - working out how much the company has to sell to pay its total costs
 Business efficiency - working out how well a business keeps its costs in line with its business growth
 Balance sheet - assets and liabilities
 Answers the question - what is the company worth?
 How the balance sheet works
 Fixed assets
 Current assets
 Current liabilities
 Long-term/non-current liabilities
 Shareholders' funds/equity
 Profiling companies and comparing them
 ROTA - Return on Total Assets
 RoE - Return on Equity
 Calculating the two fundamental performance ratios
 Asset turn - what sales were achieved by the company using its total assets
 Linking the P&L and the Balance Sheet
 The cash flow account
 Answers the question - how much cash does the company have, where does it come from and what is it using it for?
 The importance of cash flow and how to calculate it
 Opening and closing cash
 Cash from operations
 Cash from investing
 Cash from financing
 Dividends and keeping the shareholders happy
 Key questions to ask on the cash flow statement
 Four different types of companies and their accounts
 What they live and die by
 How fast is it turning over its inventory
 R&D to turnover
 How capital intensive
 How fast is it turning over its inventory
 Liquidity ratio
 What to look in the notes of the accounts for
 Staff ratio
 Capital ratio
 Liquidity ratio


 To check your understanding of the material, you will be quizzed on all the areas covered in the course including the profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow accounts, and different types of companies. 

Top tips and checklists

 The course includes clear examples; checklists and our famous Top Tips so you can be sure of understanding and applying every single part of this invaluable course.  Handy tips and checklists include the three different accounts; looking for changes; what to look for first and what to analyse; building league tables for businesses in the same sector; keeping companies in different sectors separate, and using appropriate ratios for each sector.
.Free financial tools
 We have created spreadsheets of the P&L, cash flow and balance sheet accounts, as well as one for the different types of companies, for you to download for free.  You just need to take the numbers from the accounts you are analysing and fill in the boxes, and the spreadsheet will automatically give you the changes and the ratios.

Timing: If you sat down and did the course in one sitting, it would take approximately 3-4 hours to complete.  However, the quizzes we include mean it can take longer.  You can work at your own pace, and dip in and out of the e-learning course as often as you want, and go back to sections to really make sure you've understood.

If you have any queries, we’d be delighted to help, just email us.

Please note that this e-learning course is intended for speakers of English.


Reading accounts and making sense of them is £55 + tax per user * which gives you unlimited access to the course for four weeks.

* Discounted rates for multiple users are available.  The discount applies to this course or a mix of e-learning courses.


You can:

. Buy this e-learning course now

. Try e-learning before you buy

. Meet the trainer, Richard Sharpe 

. Email us to buy this e-learning course or discuss bringing it into your company for multiple e-learning users

. Find out more information on tailored face-to-face training


If you would like to receive a Certificate when you have completed your e-learning course, please just let us know and we will arrange for one to be sent to you.


About us

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ETC is the UK's leading training provider for professionals working in media, marketing services, PR and corporate communications.  We provide training for maximising your media, communications, print and digital content. 

We give you a totally flexible approach to your learning and development, both in content and delivery.

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Please let us know if you want to learn more about our e-learning or tailored in-company training.

You can email us or call on 00 44 (0)1428 722105 to discuss your needs in more detail.

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