In our partner spotlight, we look at the people and companies who provide the resources we've curated on Learnerbly. We want to find out what makes their approach and training different, as well as what you get out of attending their courses.
This month, we're speaking to Adam Wilkinson, a Master Trainer with Colour Accounting. As Adam explains, Colour Accounting seeks to take a different approach to a — let's be honest — often boring subject. Colour Accounting explains why accounting matters, and the underlying logic at the heart of it in order to make it more accessible to everybody.
Who are you, and what is Colour Accounting?
I’m a 44 year old husband, father and accountant! I qualified as a Chartered Accountant way back in 1999 so I’ve been in the business for twenty years.
At its simplest, Colour Accounting is a completely new way to learn about and understand accounting, finance and business. We teach people the fundamentals of how accounting works in a visual way, which makes it much easier to understand.
Accounting is key to understanding financial conversations and information — which is in turn the bedrock for understanding business. Our mission at Colour Accounting is to enable people to be ‘financially conscious’. That means engaging with financial information properly and acting knowledgeably and responsibly as a result.
For businesses of all sizes, we offer tailored ‘Finance for Non Finance’ manager training, and we also work with Academic institutions to incorporate Colour Accounting.
What does the ‘colour’ in Colour Accounting refer to?
Colour makes us unique. It's the last thing many people would associate with accounting. People tend to see the discipline as dull and incomprehensible.
One reason why involves the way that it has been taught — lots of people hate accounting classes, and fail or drop out. The traditional way involves a 'relative' system, taught using T-accounts, debits and credits — lists of numbers based on abstract concepts.
Accountants learn this system by rote because the fundamental logic isn't apparent. A lot of jargon interferes.
We've invented a visual way to learn accounting — a totally different way to learn the subject. We use colour and a simple graphic to clearly show the organising system that accountants deploy. It makes clear the underlying logic in a manner that anybody can understand.
Our use of colour and shape makes our system 'absolute', rather than 'relative', tuning in with the way that people learn best. The real beauty of it is that the whole is really about understanding how a business works, along with learning about accounting — without a T-account in sight!
What prompted you to become a Colour Accounting Master Trainer?
To be honest, frustration and blind luck.
I went into accounting because I was good with numbers and wanted a solid platform with which to start a career in business. I worked in the music industry for 15 years after my exams, and have been FD at a number of great companies, but I was never truly satisfied. The role was different from what I had hoped, but I wasn't able to make a change until the blind luck came along.
After discussing the above, a very good friend of mine told me to speak to his friend, Peter [Frampton], who happened to be setting up Colour Accounting at the time. That simple connection totally changed my life. I hit it off with Peter, and while I had reservations about my ability to be a trainer, I found that I loved it. Even as I write these words I get a smile across my face and I’m still genuinely surprised by where my career has taken me!
What’s different about your approach to Accounting training?
The visual approach is the first point of difference. But our approach to language and discovery learning during workshops is equally important.
There's so much jargon in accounting. We make sure that we get to the essence of what words actually mean, so that our learners genuinely understand them. Accounting has evolved in multiple ways, which means there's a lot of work to do to harmonise and clarify the meanings of words and concepts.
Discovery learning is a complete contrast to the traditional method of rote learning. We lead people intuitively towards knowledge, rather than just telling them how things are, making the experience more interesting and rewarding.
What surprises people most about your training?
Well, the first surprise for many people is that they can actually understand accounting at all! That accessibility is a shock in itself. By the end of the training, people can analyse and engage with financial information in a way that they could never have imagined before, and I love that.
Beyond that, it's our element of fun. Our approach — along with our trainers 😉 — brings a vibrancy to the day. At the end of a full day of accounting, people are always smiling. You can't beat that.
Why is important to understand Accounting for any professional?
Ultimately, having a proper awareness of finance allows you to understand business better.
Accountants are storytellers. We tell the story of how a business is performing through financial information. Every professional needs to be able to look at their own financial information and understand the story that it tells about their business.
The language of accounting and finance is also the language of business. That could involve your monthly finance meeting in a corporate, or it could be your annual meeting with your accountant as an entrepreneur. It's critical that you get the most out of those meetings, and to do so, you need to understand the language.
There are countless examples where the language of finance leaves people confused or disengaged — which can cause real problems in a business.
How does understanding accounting and finance help you in work and life?
Accounting doesn't just underpin the business world — it also underpins personal finances. Underlying the jargon and complexity is a beautiful simplicity that Colour Accounting gets right to the heart of.
We're trying to make the difficult become accessible. Democratise the world of accounting so that everyone can make sense of financial information, whether you're running a global corporation or an ambitious start up, or just thinking about taking out a mortgage.
Come to a Colour Accounting workshop and you will be able to do that. And you’ll be smiling at the end of it too — you have my word!
If you have a Learnerbly account, you can see Colour Accounting's Public and In-house courses here