Tuesday 26 September 2017
With a wealth of online information only a few clicks away, it's easy to wonder whether there's still a need to find the answers to questions, professional or otherwise, anywhere else.
This is true for news and current events as well as professional knowledge and theory. In fact, research is increasingly conducted via internet resources with the results made available online in more than one place and format.
For finance professionals it means standards, guidelines and legislation, as well as interpretations and analyses from role players are readily available via website content, downloadable notes, podcasts and videos.
So why do we need instructors and online training? Why do we still look at people to provide us with information when there's more available at our fingertips than we could ever realistically work through? As a lecturer, I face this question often. What value do I add that professionals can't find elsewhere?
Ironically, the sheer volume of information available is one of the main reasons why the skills and knowledge of specialist instructors are so valuable.
Minimising the risk
Some legislation, standards and guidelines are easier to read and understand than others, but it's often difficult to translate the information into comfortable, workable knowledge. This leaves accountants and finance professionals exposed to the real risk of misinterpretation of the standards and the incorrect practical application thereof to the process of systems design; the design, implementation and monitoring of systems of internal controls; and the resulting processes of a fair presentation reporting process.
Without proper guidance finance professionals also run the risk of relying on a non-credible source or one that has been published out of context.
Facilitators and trainers understand their audience and prepare course content that is suited to their needs, as well as help to translate information into usable, relevant and practical knowledge.
Putting theory into practice
Resources are great for conveying information, but that jump from what a standard is to what it actually means for practical financial reporting often needs focused guidance.
Having someone to help explain the concepts and reasoning - not to mention the practical application behind the theory - is very valuable.
Providing specialised information
Finance professionals deal with massive amounts of information and are often required to interpret and make decisions on information outside of their area of specialisation. It then makes sense for them to seek assistance to understand how to work with and apply the knowledge, without having to delve into the topics in more detail than necessary.
There is much value in training prepared by knowledgeable and experienced instructors who can confidently discern what people really need to know.
The phrase 'time is money' rings especially true for finance professionals. In fact, many will argue that time is more important than money as you can recover money, but you can never recover time.
Therefore, most prefer to be taught by an expert on how the information applies to their organisation specifically, instead of spending unnecessary time reading up on the theory and then doing further research on how to implement it to their situation.
It is very valuable and necessary to continue to enrol for and engage in industry-specific and focused accounting updates. The outsourcing of the process of reading entire volumes of literature to identify the 'real' issues is a critical time saver.
Expert guidance ultimately allows finance professionals to be focused, practical and efficient. It strengthens not only their learning but also their way of translating information to ensure efficiency in terms of policy, systems design, financial reporting, staff training and resource allocation.