Programme Summary

Financial planning is a very, if not the most, important aspect of organisational management. It is a central function of most organisations and many finance departments have come to anticipate their annual appointments with budgets with anxiety, frustration and trepidation.

This is only understandable as organisational growth has brought with it increasing complexities in the financial planning process. Although some very good budgeting tools have been developed to deal with such situations, their cost is often prohibitive and their return on investment is often negative for small and medium-sized enterprises, especially when customisation, supplier lock-in risk and training requirements are taken into account. Financial Planning teams therefore turn to the tool they are most familiar with and which they know is flexible enough to recreate their organisational world-view in a model which they can adapt to multiple uses – MS Excel.

Although many financial planning teams are made up of MS Excel power users, they still fail to use MS Excel optimally to see their jobs through with the minimum effort with the result that resources are strained, in part unnecessarily, during the budgeting period.

This method of budgeting also gives rise to the tendency of siloing, where different departments adopt different assumptions to come up with the figures requested of them, which figures are subsequently amalgamated into an overarching budget without the knowledge that different assumptions have been used to come up with departmental figures. Not surprisingly, in such cases, the attainment of one set of budgetary objectives means that another set of budgetary objectives cannot be met.

Budgets, however, are not only an exercise in modelling the interrelationships between endogenous organisational variables in a MS Excel environment. Proper budgeting requires   an   understanding   of   forecasting techniques and their shortcomings, an understanding of the bigger economic picture and the markets of interest with which to calibrate such models, as well as a good understanding of how other people and departments need to be managed to minimise inter-departmental frictions during the budgetary process.

This 4-day course seeks to help attendees gain an appreciation of the foregoing issues and to impart an in-depth understanding of the financial planning process, its linkages with other organisational activities and budgeting best practices from around the world. In doing so, it endeavours to be practical, providing tools, tips and techniques that can be directly applied at the place of work.

The high-level objectives of this course include:

  • Learning to identify the Implications of the Global Economy on an Organisation;
  • Getting an Economic and Business update from Markets of interest to European businesses;
  • Understanding the Bigger Economic Picture and the Markets of Interest with which to calibrate such Models;
  • Forming expectations about Major Currencies and Major Investment Opportunities over the coming year;
  • Understanding the Organisational Politics of Budgets;
  • Understanding how other People and Departments need to be Managed to Minimise Inter-Departmental Frictions during the Budgetary Process;
  • Understanding the Relationship between Budgets and Performance Appraisal;
  • Gaining an understanding of Forecasting Techniques and their Shortcomings;
  • Understanding the different Forecasting Algorithms on Common Software Platforms and what they do;
  • Using MS Excel optimally to see tasks through with minimum effort;
  • Gaining an appreciation of the Foregoing Issues and to Impart an In-depth understanding of the Financial Planning Process; and
  • Using Budgeting best practice approaches from around the World.

Course Programme

Day 1: An Economic Outlook and how it affects our Forecast

This session will give an insight into the current and prospective economic situation. It will do this by providing an assessment of the political and economic developments within the EU and the international levels, and by assessing the implications of these developments on different aggregations of business sectors. The intention of this session is to provide the bigger picture within which any organizational financial planning must be undertaken if it is to be useful to the organisation undertaking it.

Day 2: Budgeting – Walking the Organisational Tightropes

This session will look into the organisational politics of the budgeting process. Every organization is unique in terms of its structure and how power is shared by individuals within that structure. Notwithstanding this uniqueness, however, there are several common threads in financial planning and budgeting that have been found to be common across most organisations and which this session will address. Budgets should not only be a tool for forecasting – although this is undoubtedly a very important component of budgeting – but they should also set the incentives they are meeting out to individual members of an organization in line with organisational objectives. Because of this, budgets often turn into a political battlefield pitting sales against finance, finance against operations and operations against strategy, and this session will provide attendees with some practical tips on how explosive situations of the sort can best be handled.

Day 3: A Forecasting Primer – Statistics Intuitively Explained

This session will give attendees a number of practical tips for ameliorating their forecasting accuracy. Forecasting issues that need to be taken into account will first be identified and discussed. Following this, time-series analysis statistical techniques will be explored graphically and intuitively without going into any heavy statistical or mathematical proofs. In particular, the session will delve into time-series decomposition of data, regression analysis, and TRAMO-SEATS procedures.

 Day 4: Unleashing the Full Power of MS Excel in Financial Planning and Budgeting

In this session we will look at the material covered in the previous days and look at it from a modelling perspective within a MS Excel environment. Among other things, this session will look into the importance of visualizing budgetary data, techniques to turn MS Excel into a 3-D referencing tool, the possibility of linking historical accounting tools with MS Excel to produce forecasts and the use of macros to update dashboards with multiple charts without having to intervene manually on each chart. Methods to make budget models more comprehensible by third parties and the use of data collection templates will also be demonstrated.

Trainers

Bernard Mallia

Our trainer for this module, Bernard Mallia is not just another run-of-the-mill MS Excel trainer. Our training is exclusively designed for professionals and we strongly believe that professionals should not just expect a trainer who can showcase the tools of MS Excel using rote operations. If this is what you are after, you are better off going for the ECDL Advanced module. Our training aims, and is accordingly designed, to be much more than that.

We choose our trainers on the basis of their proven business and problem-solving abilities, and Bernard Mallia is a case in point. Bernard is an experienced business professional with strong number crunching and data analysis skills who also happens to be passionate about lecturing and imparting skills. Bernard is the person with whom our clients share practical real-life scenarios and difficulties with the intent of learning how to exploit the software platform being explored to solve them. This makes our method of delivery a well-balanced trade-off between broad-insight lecturing (as Bernard brings to the table not only his expertise in MS Excel but also his vast knowledge of its integration with other information systems and his thorough knowledge of econometrics and statistics) and problem-specific consulting. The feedback that we have elicited from our bespoke training sessions given by Bernard were invariably very positive both inasmuch as the trainer himself is concerned, and also with respect to the delivery method utilised by Equinox Academy on the basis of the market research conducted by Equinox Advisory Ltd.
The prices we charge, despite being affordable, might not be the absolute cheapest on the market, but they undoubtedly represent the best value for money proposition available out there.

Bernard is an experienced independent consultant and adviser in the fields of economics, project management, ICT and Information Systems. He has a polymathic background and was awarded his first degree in Commerce with a specialisation in Public Policy and Economics, as well as an honours degree in Public and Private Sector Management from the University of Malta. He pursued post- graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh where he read for a M.Sc. in Economics, and at the European University where he read for a M.Sc. in Information Systems. He has also been the recipient of diplomas in Computerised Bookkeeping (IAB), Project Management (CIC), and Advertising and Public Relations (CIC). Bernard is a certified MS Office advanced user and a SQL Server 2005 Microsoft Certified Professional. Bernard delivers courses in:

  • MS Excel
  • Odds and Gaming
  • Financial Planning & Budgeting
  • Risk Management
  • Project Management
  • Regulatory Policy and Institutions

Reece Delia is a qualified accountant currently working as Chief Financial Officer of Equinox Group. He was awarded his first-class Bachelor in Commerce with a specialisation in Accountancy and Banking and Finance from the University of Malta. Pursuing further his studies, he read for a Master in Accountancy within the same University, graduating with Distinction.

He has ample experience in the field of accounting and finance, previously having worked for one of the international Big 4 audit firms – PricewaterhouseCoopers – where he worked within the Company Accounting and Administration Services Department, having also garnered valuable experience in other areas of accounting such as strategic management accounting, corporate governance and ethics, risk management, financial management, auditing and taxation.

Fees

The Fee for the Course is as follows:

  • Registration Fee (Non-Refundable): EUR 35.
  • Course Fee including: Lectures, Course Notes, Certificate of Attendance and Refreshments (Please see our Terms and Conditions on changes, rejections and cancellations): EUR 590

By registering for the course, you are agreeing to be bound by all the Terms and Conditions including payment terms. Upon Registration, an invoice will be issued for payment, which includes the Registration Fee and the Course Fee (which you will not be required to pay in terms of rejection but for which you are agreeing to pay in case of acceptance in line with our Terms and Conditions). The invoice is to be paid in its entirety within 15 days from the day of issuance. However, should you not meet the Eligibility Criteria for the selected course, the Course Fee will either not be levied or will be refunded if it has already been paid; the Registration Fee will remain non-refundable.

Should you wish to check about your Eligibility or clarify any other issues prior to Registering, kindly contact us on: equinoxacademy@equinoxadvisory.com

NCFHE Logo

Equinox Academy is licensed as a Higher Education Institution (License number 2015-005) by the National Commission for Further and Higher Education.

Sessions

Sessions for this course will be held as follows:

  • Day 1: 12th October 2017, 9:30 – 16:00
  • Day 2: 16thOctober 2017, 9:30 – 16:00
  • Day 3: 19th October 2017, 9:30 – 16:00
  • Day 4: 23rd October 2017, 9:30 – 16:00

The session above will be held in English.

Location

The venue of the course will be communicated to the registered participants prior to course commencement.