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Delivering Accounting Figures to the Board

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 18 Jun 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Accounting Figures Accounting Figures

If you're asked to deliver the accounting figures to a board of directors then you're almost certainly going to be the Finance Director or someone very high up in the finance department. It could be that you are deputising for the Finance Director and therefore it'll the first time you've presented the finance figures.

The good thing about presenting finance to the board of a business is that you can be reasonably sure that all the directors will be used to accounting jargon. This means you don't have to pussy-foot around delivering the figures in plain English. No one gets to board level in a company without a fair degree of exposure to the business's finances.

Introducing Accounting Figures

It is unlikely you'll need to introduce yourself so start by telling the board if anything has changed from the previous speech when figures were delivered. All accounting figures are based on benchmarks and recording periods so if something has changed in the way you are recording the figures this needs to be pointed out. You will also need to be on your toes to explain the business reasons behind any anomalies.

  • Thank whoever has just handed over to you, if appropriate
  • Explain the method you're going to use to present the accounting figures
  • Talk about any changes in accounting practice since the last report
  • Introduce any particular areas you'll be focusing on in your speech

Example: This quarter we've finished integrating the finance systems of the competitor we bought last year. If everything else remained the same this would mean that production costs and sales should be around 23% higher than comparable quarters in the past. We'll be spending some time looking at those figures to see if that's actually happened, and if not, why not.

Hard Figures

The middle of the speech will be the presentation of the accounting figures and fielding any questions that arise. Try to structure the presentation to divide the figures up into digestible chunks. There'll usually be a standard format with particular indices that the board are used to following in order to track the progress of the business.

  • Present the accounting figures, keep it concise and clear
  • Point out any particular peaks or troughs
  • Present comparisons with equivalent figures in the past quarters or months, identifying and explaining trends
  • Field questions as you go and make sure you have the facts at your fingertips to be able to do so

Example: As usual quarterly total sales are down slightly and that can be attributed to the Christmas break. The dip matches those experienced in the previous five years. The total itself is continuing the downward trend that started eighteen months ago but the pace of the drop is slowing.

Rounding Up Your Speech

Assuming you haven't been roasted over the figures then you'll have the opportunity to wind up your speech gracefully. People have a tendency to 'shoot the messenger' and directors are no different. Even if you haven't had a hard time you'll have collected a series of questions or issues to take away with you, so finish by summarising them.

  • Summarise any action points
  • Detail the issues you'll be taking back to your team
  • Give deadlines for those actions and issues
  • Thank the board for their time

Example: Thank you for your time, everyone. When we're done I'll break the transport costs down by region and contractor, that will give us a better picture of where the cost increases are coming from. I'll email those around to you all by the close of business tomorrow. Have a good day.

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