Can a finance training be fun?

Can a finance training be fun?


Yes it can, according to financial trainer Hans, who agreed to meet with me for a quick chat.

Hans has been working in the financial sector for decades, first as the director of the risk department at Santander banking group, then as an entrepreneur, running his financial coaching business. And oh yes, he’s also a financial trainer, helping people understand the ins and outs of balance sheets, accounting and money matters… five evenings per week.

It sounds like you have a pretty busy life!

My agenda is pretty full indeed, but look at it this way, I get paid to do what I like most: travelling, and meeting/networking with new people and businesses. I learn new things every day from the people I teach.

What would you say to people who claim that live financial trainings can easily be replaced by books like ‘finance for dummies’ or the myriad of ‘finance 101’ videos on YouTube?

I don’t believe that you’ll learn as effectively when you are sitting alone in a room, reading a book or watching a video about a subject that is completely new to you. Part of the learning process happens in the interaction you have with the teacher. I may seem old-fashioned in this respect, but I am a firm believer in hands-on training, with some chalk, a blackboard and my red marker as my only tools. I like to make eye-contact with who’s in front of me, see how they react and use that as a compass to mould my training. And tell me honestly, don’t you think its just much more fun to meet me in the flesh and talk over a cup of coffee like we’re doing now?

It is fun, but then again, I’m not getting a course on balance sheets.

People do register for my training sessions willingly, believe it or not. They want to run their business in a way that makes financial sense and that will help them to grow.

But this is not the case of EWCs…

It isn’t, but whether you are running a business or not, money matters. Understanding the basics of financial management pays off. Businesses and households are not all that different: there is money coming in, and money going out, and both streams have to be balanced. When you try to teach people how to read a balance sheet, using complicated terminology and abbreviations, of course they get discouraged. I relate what they see in the company balance sheet, to what they know from their private financial management. You make x amount of money, have a house and an alimony to pay, but you receive this and this allocation: is this sustainable, or is there a way to optimise this.

How do you deal with the differences in financial literacy in the groups that you train?

Before every training session, I sit together with the client to find out what they want the group to learn, what the group’s assumed level of financial knowledge is and how much time I have for the training session. Needless to say, the training programme will be a lot shorter if students only have to learn about a couple of basic balance sheet elements, than when they are to familiarise themselves with 500 different accounting terms. I always say that I need to know the starting point, and where they want the group to finish. What happens in-between, is always determined by the interaction with the group.

How can you be sure that people really understand what you’re teaching them, and that they’re not just nodding to make sure that the session is over as soon as possible?

I have been teaching finance for about three decades now, so I can see when people are not following. Moreover, I like being a bit provocative and keeping participants on their toes by giving them plenty of exercises. Then I walk around the room with a big fat red marker that I am not afraid to use. You should see the faces of people whose exercises I strike through with a crimson X! I also have smaller groups compete with one another, that brings out the devil in them and works wonders for their focus. In any case, I can assure you that at the end of the session the group is exhausted, but more knowledgeable about finance.

Is it harder to give a financial training when you’re working in a multilingual group?

When I know that my training session will be interpreted, I take some time to brief interpreters before the session. I want them to know what I am going to say, and I want them to feel comfortable enough with me to interrupt me if something is not clear. Just like with my students, I prefer that they ask me questions, rather than guess what I am trying to say. I think that this is the only way to avoid information getting lost in translation.

Any famous last words?

Seeing is believing. Why don’t you attend one of my classes after the holidays?

Hans leaves the building as enthusiastically as he entered it. And I am left thinking that indeed, he may be the link that was missing between Fun and Finance.

Want to make finance fun for your colleagues too? Contact us at contact@presencegroup.eu.