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Financial Statement Myths and George Washington


My webinar “season” is coming to a brief ending on Thursday with two programs I think anyone would enjoy. They are on Financial Statement Myths and the Finances of George Washington. I have others scheduled throughout the year, but these are more appropriate for the public and not just accountants.

Any investor or business manager needs a facility with financial statements. One problem is that they are confusing for the uninformed and another is that some of the rules and conventions were developed in a different age and things have changed but the financial statements have not. I know many of my colleagues will consider what I am saying as treason, but it is the reality. The organized profession’s response to the business, financial and economic changes has been a rush to more disclosure thinking that informed users would have the information they need to make decisions. However, those actions are obfuscations of the purposes the financial statements which is to provide information to assist in decision making.

I am pretty good at this stuff, but if I wanted to truly understand a published financial statement, it would take me at least a few days to get a reasonable handle on what is going on. That is ridiculous. Anyone looking at a statement would see five or six pages of numbers and 25 to 50 pages of written information. The auditor’s report is two pages.  The notes to financial statements are 25 pages when the smallest font size is used and 50 or more with a readable font size. Accountants have reputations for being numbers’ people, yet most of what we provide is prose and that overshadows the numbers with its explanations, descriptions, illustrations, qualifications, cautions and caveats.

The purpose of this blog is to not review financial statements but to call attention to a webinar I will be presenting on Thursday on financial statement myths. I give examples of about a dozen metrics that are widely used that I believe could be handled in a better way providing more relevant information to a user. The webinar is for accountants so that they get their continuing education credits, but I believe it will help any user better understand the financial statements they receive.

The second program is not for accountants, but the public. It is about the finances of George Washington and his entrepreneurial spirit. He has the lofty position of being the Father of Our Country. Yet, I feel many do not really understand this man. He did not attend school and was self-educated, his father and adored role model died when he was 11 and he has not left any estate and he started earning a living when he was 15. All his success was by force of his character and his own grit. He was a truly self-made man. When he died, he was one of the richest men in the United States, yet he served eight years in the Revolutionary War and another eight as President, all without pay. I promise this will be an interesting program.

The times, sponsors, and registration information for both 1-hour free programs are:

  • Financial Statement Myths: Sponsored by CPA Academy and Withum: 9:00 AM June 17. Link: Withum.CPAAcademy.org
  • Business and Financial Affairs of George Washington: Sponsored by East Brunswick Public Library and Withum: 12:00 Noon June 17. Link: Please click here to register.

I hope to “see you” at one or both programs.

Please note that my opinions above about financial statements are purely my own and do not reflect the views of anyone at Withum or anyone else.

If you have any tax, business, financial, leadership or management issues you want to discuss please do not hesitate to contact me at emendlowitz@withum.com.

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