What To Expect From a Financial Course

Thanks to the influx of technology and the Internet what once was only available to a privileged few is now available to a wide array of people from all walks of life. Thanks to online financial courses, students who once would have been unable to attend prestigious schools of finance or tertiary education colleges are now able to pursue the degrees in finance they desire.

Simply put, finance education and financial courses are available with the click of a mouse.

A finance course consists of studies relevant to global finances. Courses vary from one-time seminars, to certificate and diploma programs, to undergraduate and post-graduate degrees.

While “Finance” may seem to be a simple topic, it is actually a complex and diverse course of study. The basic area of study covers everything from finance theory to the application of statistical and mathematical principles. From the basics, students of finance would pursue specialized education in areas of banking, accounting, business management, and law.

The quantities of available finance courses are bountiful. These courses focus on areas like corporate finance, investments, banking, fixed income and financial management, financial engineering, derivatives, interest rates, risk management, personal finance, computer applications of financial management, international finances, financial institutions and banking, as well as insurance and risk management. Specialized financial courses are available to help analysts and advisors build additional skills in the areas of education finance and budgeting, health care finance, global finance and managerial finance.

College finance courses take the simple finance courses outlined above and provide more details, address more issues and give undergraduate and graduate students the advantage. These college finance courses cover aspects like in-depth corporate finance, monetary economics and its position in the global economy, business economics at microeconomic level, investment management, corporate valuation, international corporate finance, analysis and financing of real estate investment, international financial markets, international banking, urban fiscal policy, fixed income securities, behavioral finance, finance of buyouts and acquisitions, among many others.

Once an advanced degree of finance study is being pursued, a student will encounter the progressive courses of econometrics, principles of micro and macro economics, statistical practice, accounting, and international trade.

It’s best to understand financial courses as much as possible so you can make an informed decision and take the best steps possible to reach your objective. Our time is our so precious and despite cell phones and other conveniences we seem to never have enough of it. See below for more information on Finance Course.

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Understanding Financial Statements

Financial accounting’s focus is on the financial reports distributed to people outside of the company. The major component of financial reporting is the financial statements: income statement, balance sheet, statement of cash flows, and the statement of stockholders’ equity. The income statement indicates a company’s profitability during a specified time period such as one year, three months or one month.

Under accrual accounting the income statement reports the amount of revenues earned and the expenses that were incurred to earn the revenues. Expenses also include costs that expired during the period of the income statement. If a corporation’s stock is publicly traded, the income statement will also report the earnings per share of common stock. The balance sheet reports a corporation’s assets, liabilities, and stockholders’ equity as of a specific instant, such as midnight of December 31. Most balance sheets will group all of the current assets and all of the current liabilities. This allows readers to easily see the corporation’s working capital and current ratio. The statement of cash flows organizes the explanations of the change in cash and cash equivalents into three sections: operating activities, investment activities, and financing activities. The statement of stockholders equity provides a summary of the changes occurring to stockholders’ equity during the accounting period. The changes include net income, dividends declared, purchase of treasury stock, and other comprehensive income.

In order for the readers of these financial statements to make comparisons with other companies, it is necessary that the financial statements follow some common rules. The rules are referred to as generally accepted accounting principles or GAAP (pronounced gap) and consist of several components. One component of GAAP is the basic or fundamental accounting principles and concepts such as cost, matching, going concern, economic entity, materiality, conservatism, consistency, reliability, and others. You can see a brief explanation of these basic principles along with an example of each at AccountingCoach.com.

Another part of GAAP includes the detailed rules established by the Financial Accounting Standards Board or FASB (pronounced fas Bee). These pronouncements are entitled statements of financial accounting standards. FASB interpretations are also part of GAAP. You can view these pronouncements at [http://www.FASB.org/st]. The accounting rules established by the predecessors of the FASB remain as GAAP unless they have been superceded by the FASB.

Lastly, GAAP includes industry practices. For example, the balance sheet of a public utility will list the plant assets ahead of its current assets. Unique reporting practices often occur in industries that are regulated by government agencies.

The financial accounting and financial reporting of publicly traded corporations also include the annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission (Form 10-K), the annual report to stockholders, and various press releases on financial matters.

How to Evaluate Your Finance Department

Nobody knows your business better than you do. After all, you are the CEO. You know what the engineers do; you know what the production managers do; and nobody understands the sales process better than you. You know who is carrying their weight and who isn’t. That is, unless we’re talking about the finance and accounting managers.

Most CEO’s, especially in small and mid-size enterprises, come from operational or sales backgrounds. They have often gained some knowledge of finance and accounting through their careers, but only to the extent necessary. But as the CEO, they must make judgments about the performance and competence of the accountants as well as the operations and sales managers.

So, how does the diligent CEO evaluate the finance and accounting functions in his company? All too often, the CEO assigns a qualitative value based on the quantitative message. In other words, if the Controller delivers a positive, upbeat financial report, the CEO will have positive feelings toward the Controller. And if the Controller delivers a bleak message, the CEO will have a negative reaction to the person. Unfortunately, “shooting the messenger” is not at all uncommon.

The dangers inherent in this approach should be obvious. The Controller (or CFO, bookkeeper, whoever) may realize that in order to protect their career, they need to make the numbers look better than they really are, or they need to draw attention away from negative matters and focus on positive matters. This raises the probability that important issues won’t get the attention they deserve. It also raises the probability that good people will be lost for the wrong reasons.

The CEO’s of large public companies have a big advantage when it comes to evaluating the performance of the finance department. They have the audit committee of the board of directors, the auditors, the SEC, Wall Street analyst and public shareholders giving them feedback. In smaller businesses, however, CEO’s need to develop their own methods and processes for evaluating the performance of their financial managers.

Here are a few suggestions for the small business CEO:

Timely and Accurate Financial Reports

Chances are that at some point in your career, you have been advised that you should insist on “timely and accurate” financial reports from your accounting group. Unfortunately, you are probably a very good judge of what is timely, but you may not be nearly as good a judge of what is accurate. Certainly, you don’t have the time to test the recording of transactions and to verify the accuracy of reports, but there are some things that you can and should do.

  • Insist that financial reports include comparisons over a number of periods. This will allow you to judge the consistency of recording and reporting transactions.
  • Make sure that all anomalies are explained.
  • Recurring expenses such as rents and utilities should be reported in the appropriate period. An explanation that – “there are two rents in April because we paid May early” – is unacceptable. The May rent should be reported as a May expense.
  • Occasionally, ask to be reminded about the company’s policies for recording revenues, capitalizing costs, etc.

Beyond Monthly Financial Reports

You should expect to get information from your accounting and finance groups on a daily basis, not just when monthly financial reports are due. Some good examples are:

  • Daily cash balance reports.
  • Accounts receivable collection updates.
  • Cash flow forecasts (cash requirements)
  • Significant or unusual transactions.

Consistent Work Habits

We’ve all known people who took it easy for weeks, then pulled an all-nighter to meet a deadline. Such inconsistent work habits are strong indicators that the individual is not attentive to processes. It also sharply raises the probability of errors in the frantic last-minute activities.

Willingness to Be Controversial

As the CEO, you need to make it very clear to the finance/accounting managers that you expect frank and honest information and that they will not be victims of “shoot the messenger” thinking. Once that assurance is given, your financial managers should be an integral part of your company’s management team. They should not be reluctant to express their opinions and concerns to you or to other department leaders.

10 Characteristics of Effective Quality Management Systems

Quality management systems can become cumbersome and bureaucratic if not properly developed, implemented and maintained. Effective quality management systems have ten common characteristics that I have discovered in my consulting practice over the past couple of decades. These common denominators of quality management, when properly implemented, can improve your organization’s ability to satisfy customer and manage your processes and products more effectively. These ten common denominators are relevant and applicable for organizations seeking ISO 9001, AS 9100, ISO 13485 or TS 16949 registration.

1. A process is in place to ensure the needs and expectations of customers and other interested parties are clearly defined.

2. The quality policy and quality objectives are defined, deployed throughout the organization and understood by employees at all levels.

3. Processes are documented in simple to use procedures that are up to date and controlled while responsibilities of personnel are established and followed up on to achieve objectives.

4. Resources to meet objectives are identified and provided. Resources include people, processes, equipment and infrastructure.

5. Metrics are established and monitored for each process. The old adage, “If it is not worth measuring, it is not worth doing,” is certainly true for business processes. When a process is not monitored and measured, how can leaders know if it is producing the desired outcomes? Many organizations fail to establish criteria for monitoring and measuring processes and as a result inefficiencies are rampant and it is very difficult to implement corrective actions that really work.

6. Management is committed to using the metrics for process improvements and for communications within the organization as well as for holding people accountable for their performance. Accountability is dependent upon two factors: 1)the people know what is expected and 2), the leaders follow-up to insure people do what is expected.

7. A process is in place for preventing non-conforming product or services and in the event non-conforming the situation is documented and corrective actions taken. In the case of non-conforming product, the process provides for identification and segregation to prevent it from getting to a customer.

8. Continual improvement is a priority and simple approaches are implemented to involve people throughout the organization in identifying continual improvement opportunities.

9. A framework for verification of processes and products is in place and functioning as planned. This includes internal audits of the processes as well as product quality verification at various stages of production.

10. Management is involved in the system and reviews the entire system at appropriate intervals to insure the system is functioning as planned, is effective for the business and is being maintained.

A quality management system built on these ten foundational principles will give your business a competitive advantage and should not be a bureaucratic nightmare.