Online: Understanding Company Financial Statements

An accredited 15-hour hybrid eLearning course with a written assignment giving you the confidence to find stories in financial statements. Aimed primarily at journalists and activist campaigners.

Next course

Current course (full): Jan 27 - March 13, 2024 (see bottom of this page)

What is this course?

Launched in January 2022, this is an interactive online course for national and international journalists and activists who want to find stories and follow the money by using companies’ financial statements.

The course is written for journalists and activists by Finance Uncovered's own journalists – and demystifies the technical language used by companies, giving you the confidence to tackle material that many find intimidating.

This is not 'Powerpoint slides by webinar'. Instead, the course is of a high technical production standard. It is structured over four modules that contain animated graphics and video content, partly narrated by professional actors. You will also encounter regular interactive knowledge checks and quizzes along the way, which help learners understand accounting concepts and how to spot red flags and stories.

Importantly, you will take the course as part of a cohort with up to 15 other people over a seven week period. You will all study at the same pace and be ready to attend four live Zoom seminars of around 75 minutes each during that seven week period. In these seminars, we will set mini tests and discuss concepts and queries. You can apply the knowledge to your own work as you go along. By the end of the course you will have submitted a written assignment to us and we will provide individual feedback.

Certified and accredited by the CPD (Continuing Professional Development), this course gives a journalistic guide to the Income Statement, the Balance Sheet, the Cash flow statement and the narrative reports by company directors and external auditors. Experience suggests the course takes about 15-20 hours to complete.

Who it is aimed at

We believe that all news reporters, citizen journalists and activist researchers would better able to investigate leads if they had the confidence to read company financial statements and use them as an extra source of information.

The course will not make you an accountant! But it does give you an insight into their world.

If you are very comfortable using financial statements, then it's probably not for you.

For everyone else, it's likely you will learn something new – and add to your skillset and even give you an edge over your peers.

The course is in English, but the beauty (!) of accounting concepts and financial statements is that they follow similar formats throughout the world.

What recent trainees told us

In ten years, we have trained over 1,250 journalists and activists from over 90 countries. Participants work for the BBC, Reuters, leading investigative centres and over 100 from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

Campaigning organisations whose activists have taken our training include Transparency International, Global Witness and Oxfam.

Our new e-learning course has received superb feedback from participants. These are some of the comments left by the brilliant reporting team at Lighthouse Reports:

“I wanted a crash course that allowed me to have meaningful conversations with experts. This is exactly what it allowed me to do.”
I went into the course really insecure about my skills in anything financial/numerical, but both Nick and Ted were incredibly helpful and understanding from day one - going through any questions, providing great case studies that were really engaging. Also, it gave me confidence to go through the course without doubting myself and I was very happy with the outcome of the assignment!”
“It was a great introduction for a newbie like me and overall it made working with numbers way more interesting than I had ever thought. I moved from a journalist who hated accounting jargon, to one who could challenge myself to understand it. And that is all thanks to your course material and the guidance from course instructors.”

How it's structured

The course takes about 15 hours to complete via four structured modules. You will be given time-limited logins to our learning platform.

Module 1: Basic Accounting and Business concepts

Module 2: Unpacking the Profit & Loss/Income Statement, the Balance Sheet and the Cash flow statement

Module 3: The Notes and the Audit Report

Module 4: Quiz and Assignment which we mark and send back to participants

How and when is it available?

We offer the course via a single route only as experience suggests this is by far the best and most rewarding way to take it.

This is as part of a facilitated group of other individual learners, usually with 12 - 15 people and with full access to Finance Uncovered experts. These cohort courses will run at regular intervals when we are satisfied we have the right blend of people willing to commit to the training timetable. You will be asked to take the four modules and the written assignment at a similar pace over seven weeks, during which we will host four live group seminars over Zoom. These 75-minute calls, led mainly by Nick Mathiason and Ted Jeory, will include discussions and extra tests and knowledge checks to augment your learning. You will also have a chance to bring your own stories and case studies to the table as live examples.

Price: £600, subject to minimum cohort numbers. We do offer discounts to freelancers and to NGOs which make block bookings, so do please enquire. There may also be occasions when we offer bursary places.

We encourage you to contact us for upcoming dates and other information using the 'Enquire now' button above.

When will applications go live for our next "open" facilitated course?

We tend to organise our training with cohorts organised and paid for by journalism organisations and civil society organisations. But we do have at least one "open" call for journalists and researchers per year. To ensure the best experience possible for everyone, we limit numbers on these courses to 15 people. The cost is £500 per person. We do offer bursaries in exceptional circumstances so please get in touch to discuss that.

For the full details of our most recent "open" course including dates for the Zoom seminars and the application process so you can get a feel of what to expect, please see here.

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