As future managers in business, you will need to understand and analyse the financial performance of your organisation. This will let you meet targets and improve when necessary. Knowledge of accounting techniques and the ability to interpret accounting statements will be critical to your effectiveness as a manager.
Managers make decisions. The elements of a decision will often integrate financial, marketing, human resource and other considerations. Although the quantitative information generated by accountants is often very powerful, it is not absolute, and students should always consider the organisational context of the information.
Furthermore, an understanding of the concepts and ideas presented in this unit is vital to fully appreciate the material that will be presented in other units elsewhere in the course.
There are three elements to this unit that will be approached in the following order:
Financial accounting and reporting.
This area consists of the accounting information that is in the public domain and which is published by organisations. This is used by the various stakeholders to make economic decisions about those organisations.
Profit and Loss Accounts (now usually called Income Statements, although can be called Statement of Financial Performance, Earnings Statement or Operating Statement).
Balance Sheets (now usually called Statement of Financial Position)
Cash Flow Statements (sometimes called Funds Flow Statements)
Financial reports are subject to legislation and we will be considering the effects of that legislation on the usefulness of the reports. We will also be considering the strengths and weaknesses of those statements and using them to analyse and evaluate organisations.
This area takes the information produced by financial accountants, and combines it with other quantitative information to produce the raw material for management planning, decision-making and control. By and large this information is not within the public domain as the very nature of management decision-making is commercially sensitive.
Financial management considers decisions concerning the sources and uses of finance within the organisation. This is necessarily a long term and forward looking issue as it relates to the policies and strategies of the organisation.
There are no absolute boundaries between these areas and analyses of organisations may consider elements of all three.
Note that for organisational purposes, the three discrete units are split into sections. Financial Accounting and Reporting is dealt with first as this represents the focus of your first assignment and the team are anxious to provide you with sufficient input for this.
Resources and teaching
You are a masters student and it is expected that you will undertake a great deal of the work yourself. Your tutors will provide the learning map, but you are expected to follow it.
You will have a single 2 hour teaching session each week. You will be allocated to this session and you should go to this one and no other.
You are required to acquire the textbook
Dyson, John R. - Accounting for non-accounting students. 8th edition. FT Prentice Hall.
It is available from Waterstones bookstore in George Street Luton (although you might find it cheaper online). You may be able to get earlier editions, but if you do some of the material will be different and you will have to figure it out. We will use the book for examples each week.
BREO (Bedfordshire Resources for Education Online). This is the University's web based teaching tool. We will put all of your learning materials onto BREO in the week before the particular class. Be sure to read this and undertake the tasks required. This will prepare you for your study.
Keep your eyes open! Read newspapers, watch the Business news on TV and link the stories to your learning.
If you have difficulty with English - you must attend the extra classes offered by our Department of Language and Communications. This is situated on the top floor of the Vicarage Street building. The extra classes are free!
How to approach your study
You will study over a semester of 15 weeks that includes all assessments. You should attend the single two-hour teaching session each week. The topics for each week are listed below in the schedule of work. The slides used in each session will be found on BREO, the University's virtual learning system (http://breo.beds.ac.uk, AAF001-6). It is a requirement that all students download these slides and copy them in some efficient format, so that these copies are in front of each student throughout the lecture. Notes can then be made on each slide as required.
You will not pass the course if the only work you do is during the two hour teaching session. The schedule of work indicates reading. The precise pages to read and questions to attempt will be given week by week on BREO. The weeks indicated are your targets. It may be that you do more work in one week and less in another.
You should attempt the independent self-managed learning problems and reading in your own time. Note that in finance and accounting it is important to practice data handling skills as well as refining your understanding of the area.
Your first assignment has a groupwork element. You should meet your group to discuss progress, compare problem solutions, reflect on learning and consolidate problems to be resolved with tutors.
By the end of this unit students will be able to:
Utilise the internet to access business and financial data
Analyse and interpret published income statements and balance sheets (financial accounting).
Be familiar with, and make theoretical use of the basic models and decision making techniques of management accounting.
There will be two assessments for this unit (and no examination). The first, worth 50%, includes a group component (25%) and an individual component (also 25%). The second assessment (50%) is an individual case study report. Details are as follows:
Assessment 1 (50%)
Part A (Group component) - 25% - Presentations in week 5 (commencing 1 November)
Students will be allocated into groups by the teaching staff. The groups will be required to keep a diary of events about organisations which you believe have significant impact on UK and World business activities. The diary will show the event, the name of the organisation, the impact on the organisation and the effect on the organisation's financial statements. The diary will then be compiled into table form and the group will make a presentation to members of the teaching team. It is advised that you collect no more than 10 events onto your table. The events must have taken place during 2010.
All members of the group will be present and will speak. The presentation will be between 5 and 10 minutes in length (you will be advised of this beforehand as it will depend on the number of students to present). The presentation will be during your normal teaching period in week 5. Group members will be decided by week 3 of the course and the presentation time will be allocated. For this week you only need to attend at your presentation time. You are free to choose your own group members before week 3, but if this has not been done by then, groups will be formed by your tutor.
The presentation table will appear as per below
Date of event
Company or organisation involved
Brief description of event
Effect on end of year financial statements
Your presentation will be assessed on the following;
Sound choice of events demonstrating awareness of the commercial world.
Effective description of the events
Reasoned analysis of the events and their likely impact on published financial statements
In addition your presentation should have the following attributes;
Good organisation and changeovers between the members
A beginning (introduction), middle and end (conclusion)
Choice of appropriate language (correct use of technical words)
Use of support material (no printed handouts, but good use of displays or slides)
Correct pace (not too fast and not too slow)
Tone and volume of voice (don't shout and don't whisper)
Each group member must include a copy of the presentation slides/notes as an appendix to the individual report (see below)
Part B (Individual component) - 25% - This must be submitted by Friday of week 7 (19th November). This must be submitted in paper form to the submissions office and also in electronic form through BREO. Work not submitted properly in both forms will be a non-submission.
Students are required to write a financial report, ON A STRICTLY INDIVIDUAL BASIS. This means no copying from other students or other published sources. The work that you submit through BREO will be plagiarism tested for copying from each other and from the internet and published sources.
The report should focus on one company which has been mentioned in your group diary. We would advise you not to choose banks and other financial services organisations and non-limited companies. You should collect the most recent published financial statements for your chosen organisation and subject them to a financial analysis using financial ratios.
After calculating the ratios you should develop your analysis to incorporate broader relevant issues into the report e.g. the competition, the economy, strategic issues, etc. For this reason other information should also be collected. The task here is to integrate the financial analysis with the analysis of other business aspects.
Your report should be no more than 2000 words analysing the performance of the organisation. Your report should be a critical narrative, and any calculations and supporting documentation must be shown as appendices.
The assessment should be written in the form of a report from a management consultant advising on the financial performance of the organisation. The presentation of the work must be as professional as possible.
Company web sites (showing the most recent full year Annual Report and Accounts), historical databases and press comments will be useful sources of background information. Ratio Analysis should be used to demonstrate changes in profitability or asset/liability management over the last three years. In particular, the way in which most recent events could affect the Income Statement and/or the Balance Sheet should be explained or speculated on.
Students within the same group may select the same company, and use the same data but must produce an individual report.
The individual report should include the following sections:
Why have you chosen this focus company?
The impact of current events since the last balance sheet date
Conclusions and recommendations