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Prof C FOO James Leong 'The Financial Storyteller' brings you on a journey to demystifying finance!

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The story behind Financial Storytelling

For over two decades, I have helped thousands of undergraduates, executives and retail investors to demystify financial statements and accounting jargon. This has empowered them to be more numbers savvy to make better financial decisions.


My teaching experience has taught me a lot about how to simplify complicated concepts and remove the mystery around finance and accounting. You do not need to go through what I have gone through in learning the hard way. I found that it is much easier to learn through drawings and stories. This is the approach I use in writing this book, just like how I would teach a live class.


What I aim to achieve with this book is to share with you the gift of clarity so that you too, will be more confident about finance and numbers. This will empower you to take on greater leadership responsibility in your organisation, better manage your business with numbers and improve your financial decision-making ability.



In my years of teaching, I have come across many people who find finance complex and confusing, like I once did. But I had time on my side then as a full-time student to master the subject. When conducting training for executives, I often only have just 2 days to help them “get” finance. The challenge for me is to teach something generally perceived to be a dry and difficult topic, make it interesting to capture attention, and ensure that everyone meets their learning objective no matter what their pre-course aptitude is for the subject. One of the first things I check in with my course participants is their feelings about finance. I find it not uncommon for people to feel somewhat intimidated when it comes to numbers. Many who came to attend the workshop took a leap of faith that they can ‘survive’ the training and learn a very important skill. Some come armed to the teeth, literally, with titbits and coffee candy, preparing to do battle with Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep- hoping to stay awake in class.


Over time, I found that stories are an effective antidote to sleep in class. Humans have told stories since time immemorable. Our ancestors told stories of how they escaped from the jaws of the sabre tooth tiger during cave townhall meetings. Lessons of survival were passed down by word of mouth. Till today we are still very wired to a good story. Watching movies and reading novels is an entertaining pastime.


It dawned upon me that financial statements are just stories about a business, told in numbers. That was my lightbulb moment. I started to relate the numbers to actual business and economic events. I frame financial analysis as financial storytelling. What my participants want is to be able to tell the business story from the numbers. Some numbers tell a sad story of corporate failure. Some tell an upbeat story of growth and profitability, with shareholders rejoicing in their gains. If they do not like the story that the numbers are telling them about their business, they can take the appropriate actions to improve. Next time, they will be able to tell a better story to their stakeholders.


What was potentially a boring topic has now become a fascinating pursuit for my participants. Everyone is eager to learn to tell the financial story from the numbers and be a confident financial storyteller.


The best way to use this book is to approach it like an inquisitive financial storyteller. My goal is to help you uncover what the numbers are saying about a business. Just like a horse whisperer can understand the secret language of our equine friends, a financial storyteller can interpret numbers to understand the condition of a business financially. Can you tell if your business is doing well, is it heading for trouble, and what can you do to make it better?  As a financial storyteller, you will be able to do this at the end of the book.

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