What is Financial Acumen?

“Financial Acumen for Local Government has been specifically designed to increase the financial understanding and commercial capability of managers operating within local government. In doing so it will facilitate improved decision making that will lead to better outcomes for meeting the ever-increasing demands of ratepayers and stakeholders in a rapidly changing and demanding environment.” – Mr John Corrigan – FCPA, Director – The Business School

Course Benefits


  • Understand the language of finance and demystify financial management dialogue;
  • Make sense of financial concepts and develop tools to make decisions;
  • Make informed, valuable contributions to management discussions with new expertise and a deeper understanding of financial reports;
  • Confidently apply your new-found knowledge with and use information to improve business performance;


  • Build financial and commercial capability across the leadership team to improve decision making;
  • Align finance, marketing, operations, and service to the organisation’s strategy over short and long term horizons;
  • Make better operational decisions based on the factors affecting  financial performance;
  • Operational units can now adopt the financial perspective to drive an holistic agenda;

Innovative Learning

  • The blended course structure is time effective delivered in one day in the classroom;
  • The classroom learnings are reinforced by supplementary online material and a finance cafe tutorial; and

Strong Industry Focus

  • The material is tailored to local government including Financial Statements from Councils, ratio analyses which are relevant to Council operations, examples of Councils’ financial plans and budgets, exercises around service costing and pricing (road maintenance, childcare & waste operations), and typical elements of a departmental budget.
Topic Description
The Financial Statements
  • An outline of typical financial decisions
  • The purpose and accuracy of financial statements
  • The 3 financial statements
  • Analysing 2 councils using financial statements
Understanding the Transaction Process
  • The accounting cycle and transactions
  • Key concepts – the matching principle, conservatism & responsibility accounting
  • Typical transactions – rates, payroll, and fixed assets
Financial Ratio Analysis
  • Performance measures and DuPont ROI analysis
  • Local Government – performance measures and special indicators (financial and infrastructure)
Budgeting & Planning – The Integrated Planning Reporting Framework
  • Budgeting and planning processes
  • The IPR Framework
  • Understanding business activity and workplace schedules
Costing & Pricing
  • Revenue, costs and breakeven analysis
  • Examples of breakeven analysis, project costing and service costing
  • Pricing strategy
Financial Sustainability
  • Budget monitoring
  • Options for financial sustainability
  • Managing financial risk

The learning outcomes will be:

  • An outline of typical financial decisions proposing accuracy of 3 financial statements and analysing 2 councils using financial statements
  • Understanding accounting cycle and transactions through key concepts of accounting- the matching principle, conservatism & responsibility accounting. Typical transaction will include rates, payroll and fixed assets
  • Understand how to develop and deliver financial plans and business activity
  • Develop strategies to improve financial sustainability through budget monitoring, managing financial risk and options for financial sustainability
  • Make better financial decisions by understanding costing, pricing and risk.

Unique Program Structure

The Financial Acumen Program is structured using The Business School  proprietary 3R-Key methodology, Realise, Reinforce and Refresh. This method was originally conceived and developed by John Corrigan, Board Member and Director at The Business School.

The methodology is designed to “lock in” in-depth knowledge and understanding of key principles and concepts.

Delivery Options

Blended Learning – Face to Face

  • Workshop – 1 x full day workshop with our facilitator on-site that is delivered to up to 15 Managers. Face to face workshops can be tailored to your specific work-groups and staff numbers
  • Online – Immediately following the workshop all participants will be given access to the online learning modules. This stage will take approximately 3-4 weeks depending upon learner scheduling and this is where the workshop knowledge is put into direct and relevant practice
  • Cafe – At the completion of the online stage a live QnA style catch up will take place. The primary aim of this is a check in to provide support, comments and further guidance on the learning outcomes.

Blended Learning – Online

  • Online – Participants will be given access to the online learning modules 1-3. This will take approximately 2-3 weeks to complete. Online participants will have access to comprehensive pre-recorded lectures that will cover the module content in depth
  • Cafe – Participants will engage with the facilitator via the Online Cafe sessions which will be more structured and allow participants to refresh their knowledge of the first three modules.
  • Online – Participants will be given access to the online learning modules 4-6 which they will work through independently as per modules 1-3
  • Cafe – Participants will engage with the facilitator via the final Online Cafe session which will be guided by the student cohort to refresh and reinforce the learning outcomes of all modules.


Will be able to better understand and interpret financial information:

  • improved understanding of key accounting concepts, financial statements and key financial ratios
  • improved understanding on how to develop and use financial plans
  • increased understanding of costing, pricing and risk techniques to improve operational performance and decision making.

Develop strategies to

  • improve financial sustainability
  • increased commercial capability and awareness
  • improved financial decision-making capability


Develops financial and commercial capability across the leadership team leading to improved decision making.

Align finance, marketing, operations, and service to the organisation’s strategy over short- and long-term horizons

Improved operational decisions based on the factors affecting financial performance

Supports the Finance capability of the Local Government Capability Framework

Improving financial sustainability by considering financial drivers and the impact of revenue and cost elements on business models, projects and budgets.

Understanding the key elements of the Integrated Planning Reporting Framework which translates the Community Strategic Plan into the Delivery Program and Operational Plan.

Developing strategies and tactics to deliver on the Department’s plan and budget including costing, pricing, and workforce management techniques.

Understanding and managing financial risk minimisation strategies and outcomes.

Grahame has worked with the City of Sydney Council to develop an organisation structure that reflects the new requirements of Council and Senior Executives arising from the new Local Government Act. He has also worked at Warringah Council to develop a service costing tool, including a net cost of services, which was then used to review pricing structures and fees.

With more than 30 years’ experience, Grahame is a leader in delivering strategic financial management solutions covering financial acumen, planning, forecasting, budgeting, performance reporting, decision making & financial communication.

Grahame’s clients include:

  • Commonwealth Bank
  • Westpac
  • ANZ
  • Bank of Queensland
  • NSW Housing Education
  • RailCorp
  • NSW Office of State Revenue
  • Curtin University
  • Zurich

Upon enquiring about Financial Acumen for Local Government with The Business School we will arrange a telephone call with your learning and development officer or another relevant staff member to discuss your specific requirements. We will then provide a customised quote and begin the process to book your face to face or online workshops.

For enquiries please fill out the contact form below or via email at admin@tbs.edu.au or telephone on (02) 9167 3960.

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