Finance for Non-Financial Managers

From Beginner to Advanced
We don't assume that you know what an asset, liability or even profit is. We start from the absolute basics and build your financial knowledge from there.
Learn Practical Skills
<p>This is not about learning theory only. You will learn practical skills that you can apply in your work environment and in your business (if you are a business owner or entrepreneur)</p>
Online and Classroom courses
<p>Study Online or attend a Classroom course (held in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town).</p>
Comprehensive In-depth Course
This isn't a superficial course. It covers all the key concepts in-depth to help you truly become financially intelligent.

About the Course – by Zunaid Khan CA(SA), MBA


My name is Zunaid Khan and I am the course designer / facilitator.

Before I tell you about our course let’s first look at why being financially intelligent is critical for your business and career success.

You’ll see that you need to financially smart whether you are a:

  • Business Owner
  • Entrepreneur
  • Manager or Executive working in a corporate.

Why is this so?

The reason is that in business you are constantly faced with making decisions and choosing between different courses of action.

For example:

  • What prices should you charge for your products and services ?
  • How much stock / inventory you should keep on hand ?
  • What should you do if you’re running out of cash ? How do you pre-plan to make sure it doesn’t happen in the first place?
  • What actions should you take to grow your business ?
  • How should you go about raising additional capital for your business ?
  • What price should you pay for a business you want to purchase ?
  • How should you setup an effective budget and forecasting system to properly manage your business ?
  • and the list goes on ….

If you make good decisions your business will prosper and your career will advance. If you make poor decisions it’s going to have the opposite effect.

Now when making business decisions you will need to rely on financial information. This includes reports such as financial statements, budgets, forecasts, variance analyses, ratio analyses and so on.

It then goes without saying that you need to understand what these reports mean.

If you are unable to make sense of the numbers on these reports then you’re more likely to make the wrong decisions (with negative and potentially even catastrophic consequences).

How does this play out in the corporate space ?

Quite simple. Those people who are able to increase profits and cash flow are going to move quickly up the corporate ladder.

And what about business owners ?

It’s even more important if you’re a business owner because what you earn from your business is directly linked to the profit and cash flow that your business generates.

Either way – you need to be financially intelligent.

Here is some proof

If you look at the most successful CEO’s in business (in South Africa or in the rest of the world) you will find that they have a good grip on the numbers.

It’s not surprising that many CEO’s have a background in finance. No doubt, it played a major role in getting them to the top of their organisations.

To prove this point further consider what the most successful business people in the world have had to say on this topic.

Bill Gates (the founder of Microsoft and one of the richest people in the world) said:

“Know your numbers” is a fundamental precept of business.

The word “precept” means a commandment, which indicates just how important it is.

Warren Buffett (one of the leading investors in history and also one of the wealthiest people in the world) said: “Accounting is the language of business”.

Now imagine living in a world where you don’t understand the language that is spoken by everyone else around you.

How would this impact on your ability to effectively operate in such a world ?

Obviously, very negatively.

Well, unfortunately this is the exact situation that most people find themselves in when working in the business world.

And it does impact negatively on their business and / or career. Because how can you be successful in business if you don’t understand the language of business ?

What happens if you’re not financially literate ?

In my years of working with firms of different sizes (from small startups to large corporates) I’ve seen first-hand how a lack of financial know-how can result in poor business decisions, often with disastrous consequences.

In the corporate space I’ve seen managers enter into loss-making contracts because they didn’t understand basic financial principles. I’ve sat in many budget meetings where it was clear that a manager didn’t know how to properly put a budget together (often with embarrassing consequences).

I’ve seen business owners lose millions of Rands by overpaying for businesses because they didn’t do a proper valuation on the business they were buying and didn’t understand basic valuation principles.

And I have had heard many stories of business owners being defrauded (often by their own employees) because they didn’t have proper controls over their business finances.

In larger businesses the stakes are even higher.

Let me tell you a story.

You may not have heard of a company called Worldcom (unless you follow the international business press).

Worldcom was one of the largest telecommunications companies in the USA in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Then in 2002 a massive accounting fraud was discovered which resulted in the company declaring bankruptcy.

With assets of over 100 billion dollars this still ranks as one of the largest bankruptcies of all time. The senior executives in charge of the company were charged with fraud. The CEO Bernard Ebbers pleaded innocence and said that he wasn’t responsible as he didn’t understand what the finance people were doing. In his court case he said: “I don’t know about technology and I don’t know about finance and accounting.”

The jury didn’t buy this. He was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years in jail.

The bottom line is that ignorance is no excuse, especially if you hold a senior position in an organization.

By now, I’m sure you can see why financial know-how is a critical business skill.

But what should you do if you are in the position where you haven’t studied finance and accounting ?

What if accounting terms such as Equity, Intangible Assets, Provisions and so on have no meaning for you ?

What should you do if financial reports such as Income Statements and Balance Sheets intimidate you ?

The good news is that this is something you can learn.

The truth is that like most things in life, it will take some time and effort.

It doesn’t have to have to be hard.

And believe it or not, the process can be quite enjoyable.

But it does take some time and effort.

If anybody tells you that you can become financially smart in a day or just a few days then you should know that its not true.

Yes, you can make a great start by attending a course. But i

How to become Financially Intelligent

Becoming financially intelligent is a process where you work through multiple stages with each one building on the one before it.

Let me show you what I mean.

STAGE 1: Understand what the accounting terms mean in plain and simple English.

Even though the terms may sound complicated they can be simple to understand provided they are explained to you in plain and simple English.

Here is an example:

ASSETS are things that you OWN that have value. So your car, house, computer and so on are your assets because you own them. They have value because you can convert them into cash i.e. by selling them, or you can use them to bring in cash e.g. by renting them out.

LIABILITIES are what you OWE. So you bond on your house is a liability. So is your credit card. These are amounts that will have to be paid at some point in the future i.e. they will result in cash going out.

STAGE 2: Learn about the different financial relationships that exist

Once you understand what the different accounting terms mean in simple English you can start looking at the relationships between them.

For example, if you want to calculate how wealthy you are, you take what you OWN and you subtract from that what you OWE.



Think about it this way.

If you sold all of your assets you would have a certain amount of cash on hand.

However, you cannot keep all this cash for yourself. You have to pay the people you owe from this cash i.e. your liabilities.

Once you have paid your liabilities you will be left with a certain amount of cash. This amount of “left over” cash is what your actual wealth is.

The accounting word for WEALTH is EQUITY.


You may have seen this equation before. Now you should understand what it actually means i.e. it calculates wealth by looking at what you OWN (Assets) and what you OWE (Liabilities).

And this is exactly what a BALANCE SHEET shows you.

If you draw up your own personal Balance Sheet it will show you what you OWN (your ASSETS), what you OWE (your LIABILITIES) and your Wealth (the EQUITY) which is the difference between your Assets and your Liabilities.

The same principle applies to a business.

A business also has ASSETS and LIABILITIES. If you subtract the one from the other you get the EQUITY (i.e. wealth) of the business.

So when we are looking at the Balance Sheet of any business, this is what we are looking at.

The EQUITY of the business is the accounting value of what the business is worth to the owners of the business.

This is one of the things you will look at when buying a business and determining its price.

So, in the same way as shown to you above you can gain a proper understanding of the other financial statements such as the Income Statement and Cash Flow Statement as well as tools like ratio analysis.

If you found this useful make sure you sign up here for some more free lessons.

STAGE 3: Apply what you learn

Once you have the understand the basics you can start to apply your knowledge to real life scenarios.

So while our example above explaining the Balance Sheet is still theoretical we can make it practical by analysing the Balance Sheets of some real companies.

For example, we can take the Balance Sheets of companies such as MTN, Vodacom, Telkom and examine them.

We can look at things like:

  • Which company is worth more to its shareholders in accounting terms?
  • Which one of them is generating better returns?
  • Which one has the best profit margins ?
  • Which one is the largest ?
  • and many other useful and interesting things…

Once you are able to start analysing financial information you can start to learn how to make the type of decisions that I described earlier.

Things like:

  • Is your business a good investment compared to other investments you could make? In other words what returns are you getting from your business?
  • How is your business performing from one period to the next ? Do you understand that just how you would look at multiple measures on your car’s dashboard when driving a car (e.g. fuel levels, temperature gauges to see it’s not overheating, current speed, kilometres travelled, etc ) the same principle applies to a business? You will learn what the different measures are (e.g. profits, cash flow, ROI’s etc) and what represents a good number and what represents a bad number.
  • If you are going into a new business venture what is the minimum sales you need to make for the business to be viable?
  • And many more…

By using real life examples and case studies you will not be learning theory only but you will be building the skills that make you financially intelligent.

Let me now know tell you a bit about myself and the course I have designed.

A bit about me

I am a Chartered Accountant and I also hold an MBA from Edinburgh Business School. I’ve worked in many senior level Finance positions including that of Financial Director. I tell you this so that you can rest assured that I understand this field well.

However, that hasn’t been the major source of inspiration for me to develop this course.

What has?

Two things

  • Firstly I have worked in many other areas besides Finance. I have worked in roles that are in General Management, Business Development, IT, Production, Supply chain Management as well as HR. I understand what it is like to work in non-financial roles. I’ve also worked for businesses of different sizes – from the largest corporates in South Africa to medium sized companies to startups.
  • Secondly, I have worked with many non-financial colleagues over the years – helping them to work with financial information. I understand the challenges and the frustrations that can be experienced by a non-financial manager who hasn’t mastered the basic concepts of Finance and Accounting. It is taking these experiences into account that this course has been developed.

Course Design Principles

I’ve already described above how you can become financially intelligent and our course is based on that process.

There are a few more things I want to add:

  • As a non-financial manager you don’t need to learn everything about Finance and Accounting. You don’t need to know how to prepare financial statements yourself. After all, the intention is not to make you an accountant. It is the job of the accountant to prepare financial information. Your job is to be able to interpret and make sense of this information so that you can use it to help you make the correct business decisions.
  • You don’t need to have any prior finance or accounting knowledge in order to take our course. We start off with the basics and build up from there. So even if you don’t know what an Asset or Liability you don’t have to worry as everything is covered from scratch. We start with basic financial literacy (explains the the meaning of key terms) and build up from there to Financial Intelligence (where you can read the story the numbers are telling you).
  • There is no better way to learn something than by applying it to a real-life situation. That is why our course has a strong “learn by doing” component where we use examples and case studies that are similar to what you will encounter in real life.

Course Delivery

There are 2 different ways to complete our course – either attend a 3 day classroom course (which includes post course support) or complete the course via Online learning.

Classroom Courses

We deliver classroom courses in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. The latest dates are on the registration form below. If none of these dates suit you please sign up for future course notifications here.

Online Course

The online courses run over a period of 8 weeks. Each week you will be provided with video training which you will need to watch as well as some exercises to complete. This is then followed by a weekly Q&A webinar where you can ask me any questions you like on the course material.

The online courses have a set start and end date. You will find the next start date on the registration form below. If this start date doesn’t suit you you can sign up to get notified of future online courses here.

Next Steps

You can read what past students have had to say about the course below.

If you are ready to get started please click here to register.

If you would like to get some free sample lessons please please click here.

And if you have any questions about the course please complete this form here.

What past students had to say

 My initial perception prior to attending this course was one of apprehension, as I have not been exposed to finance and accounting before. However, my perceptions were immediately altered when the course commenced.

The lecturer although extremely knowledgeable and experienced in this field has a style of presenting and involving all the delegates that created an immediate comfortable feeling.

My other concern was that I would become easily bored with a subject such as this, but the lecturer was very engaging. His professionalism did not prevent him from having a sense of humour and allowing for comments and input from all the delegates, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Nadeema Chothia, Managing Director
 The materials, course pack content and presentation were very good and more importantly, very relevant. The methodology of using the course information and writing up mini case studies to explain and learn key concepts (ROE ratios, cash flows, etc) were excellent and practical.

My family members who saw the course pack were very impressed and as business owners themselves said “This is exactly what we need to better understand cash flow, inventory and financial statements.”

The lecturer Zunaid Khan CA(SA) is an excellent and highly professional financial and management expert. His experience in both large corporations as well as small business start ups, his scope and depth of knowledge in manufacturing, distribution and services is exceptional.

As course leader he combines theoretical management knowledge as well as practical experience through relevant case studies and anecdotal experience. He effectively used good group work techniques and team exercises and answered all questions very well.

Ashraf Patel
The course was fun and informative as well as a learning experience for me. I finally got the crux of the A – L = E equation. The atmosphere was that of a “comfort zone” and not an intimidating one and for me that is important because I am not the general outspoken type of person.

I have attended Finance courses before but never went home with lessons learned. Actually I didn’t remember anything at all and that is why I decided to attend your course. Trainers in the corporate world just don’t know how to do a good job.

As for the instructor what can I say Zunaid, I compliment you. You did a fantastic job getting the information across to us and for a Finance course I really take my hat off for you.
Naseema Khan

This course is a must for all persons that do not have an accounting background, but manage finances of a business, as managers, owners and project managers.
Abbas Essop

Course Outline

  • Understanding the Financial Statements of an Individual.
  • Understanding the Financial Statements of a Business.
  • Interpreting financial statements – the Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Cash Flow Statement and Statement of Changes in Equity.
  • Understanding the relationships between the different financial statements.
  • Understanding the difference between cash flow and profits.
  • How to calculate mark-ups and gross margins.
  • The different classifications of Assets and Liabilities.
  • The various types of activities in a business – investing activities, financing activities and operating activities.
  • How to improve the profitability of a business.
  • Ratio Analysis.
  • How to check if a business is insolvent.
  • Understanding various measures of profitability.
  • Financial leverage and why it’s important.
  • Warning indicators that a business is going to have cash flow problems.
  • How to calculate the break-even level of sales for a business.
  • Understanding Return on Investment (ROI)
  • The budgeting process – why budgets are created and how the process works.
  • How to create a budget – cost centre budgets, profit centre budgets and investment centre budgets.
  • Zero-based budgeting, Capital Budgeting and limiting factors.
  • Understanding the Financial Press.
  • Explore why financial controls are needed.
  • An overview of taxation.
  • The Time Value of Money.
  • Limitations of Financial Statements.
  • The Balanced Scorecard – Why it’s needed and how to read one.