The Game of Profit & Cash Teaches Employees Financial Basics

January 13, 2003

As an agent, broker, or company employee, have you ever wondered how your sales contribute to the big picture—that is, your company’s balance sheet and quarterly financial results? Maybe you are an owner who wishes he/she could help employees better understand this relationship. Now, a board game can help employees and management learn the ropes of their company’s finances. The game, Profit & Cash®, teaches participants the nuts and bolts of their company’s financial statements.

“The game was really developed as a way for individuals to understand how their company functions and make money, and hopefully allows them to transfer their knowledge into the actual application of their business, of their job,” Paul Heacock said. Heacock is a partner at HCap International, a St. Louis-based consulting company. Heacock and his fellow partners, Alan Mauch and Cary Phillips, are facilitators of Profit & Cash®. They travel to different organizations by request to present and facilitate the game.

Profit & Cash® is customizable, therefore allowing for it to be specifically geared towards the insurance industry. The ultimate object of the game is for the players to work as a team, compiling quarterly financial results for a year-end report summarizing the company’s financial performance. That summary is then compared to the goals decided upon at the start of the game.

While the game is normally conducted by licensed facilitators, including Heacock, Mauch and Phillips, a company interested in playing the game with a large number of employees can have a facilitator train a couple of employees to facilitate the game. A normal game takes approximately six hours to complete.

The playing surface of Profit & Cash® resembles that of a Monopoly® game board. Up to six players form a team, and each is assigned a role, such as CFO or treasurer, and with that, a list of responsibilities. Each role of the dice determines a player’s movement on the board. Each square directs the company’s action—and the company’s cash flow. The squares dictate an action such as Make Sale, Draw, Pay Expense or Collect Receivable. Additionally, players draw cards at each turn to stir the pot, revealing variables such as investment decisions and management strategies. Unexpected expenses such as a major cat loss can also affect the company’s financial performance.

“The game is divided into four quarters just like the normal insurance industry reporting cycle is,” Mauch said. Throughout the game, the company’s financial performance is tracked on poster-sized score sheet. Key ratios are calculated against pre-established goals determined prior to start of the game, and debriefing periods throughout the game keep players informed of the overall financial performance of the team and to connect the game experience to everyday work situations. After completing four quarters of financial results, the company’s financial performance is summarized to depict year-end results.

“The idea is to parallel the reports of an insurance company,” Mauch said. “The teams get really excited after the first couple of quarters. It becomes a real challenge to see if [the team] can make their numbers.”

Mauch explained that oftentimes the facilitator will compare the company’s actual balance sheets to the ones played in the game. “It’s always amazing how clearly you can use the game to illustrate [the company’s] own financials,” Mauch said.

“It’s a lot of fun when we have two teams because then they can kind of compete against each other,” Phillips added. “We’ve played as many as three or four games going on at the same time in a large room. That’s actually a lot of fun because the competition does enter into it, and people have the opportunity to not only see their financial results but also the results of others.”

“There is a real benefit to having more than one team playing at the same time because we can also show how even the same decisions can have different impacts because of external factors,” Mauch said

Of the many lessons to be learned during the play of Profit & Cash®, one of the most significant is the team’s ability to make decisions and then bear the consequences. “There are consequences to action and inaction,” Phillips said. “They draw one particular card, and then three or four cards later they find out that there were consequences to not taking action or consequences to taking action.

“Some of the fun things people learn is that you can earn premium but then not collect it or you can write premium but not actually have earned it,” Phillips added. “With this visual representation, they get an idea of that.”

“I do think there’s a void in the insurance industry in regards to financial literacy, and I think the game helps to fill that void,” Phillips continued. “The lessons sort of sneak up on [the players] because they’re just playing a game, and after several hours, it’s a situation where they’re truly focused on their goals, they understand the consequences of the actions they take during the playing of the game, and they come away with a much better understanding of how the money flows, how the finances work, and also their role in improving the bottom line.”

Profit & Cash® was developed and is owned by Capital Connections, a subsidiary of Schuster Kane. For more information, visit http://www.hcapinternational.com/insurance/index.htm.

From This Issue

Insurance Journal West January 13, 2003
January 13, 2003
Insurance Journal West Magazine

Calendar Issue/ Insurance Fraud

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