Financial Intelligence: A Manager's Guide to Knowing What the Numbers Really Mean

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Overview


Companies expect managers to use financial data to allocate resources and run their departments. But many managers can't read a balance sheet, wouldn't recognize a liquidity ratio, and don't know how to calculate return on investment. Worse, they don't have any idea where the numbers come from or how reliable they really are. In Financial Intelligence, Karen Berman and Joe Knight teach the basics of finance--but with a twist. Financial reporting, they argue, is as much art as science. Because nobody can quantify everything, accountants always rely on estimates, assumptions, and judgment calls. Savvy managers need to know how those sources of possible bias can affect the financials and that sometimes the numbers can be challenged. While providing the foundation for a deep understanding of the financial side of business, the book also arms managers with practical strategies for improving their companies' performance--strategies, such as "managing the balance sheet," that are well understood by financial professionals but rarely shared with their nonfinancial colleagues. Accessible, jargon-free, and filled with entertaining stories of real companies, Financial Intelligence gives nonfinancial managers the financial knowledge and confidence for their everyday work. Karen Berman and Joe Knight are the owners of the Los Angeles-based Business Literacy Institute and have trained tens of thousands of managers at many leading organizations. Co-author John Case has written several popular books on management.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“the best, clearest guides to the numbers that I know of.” – Inc. Magazine
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591397649
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 1/12/2006
  • Pages: 257
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Karen Berman and Joseph Knight are the founders of the Los Angeles-based Business Literacy Institute. They train managers at organizations such as American Express, P&G, Pacific Life, GM and Tyco International. They have been interviewed in a wide range of print media including BusinessWeek, USA Today and the LA Times.

John Case has written several successful books including Open-Book Management (HarperBusiness, 1995) and The Open-Book Experience (Addison Wesley,1998). He is a contributing writer for Inc. magazine and has written for HBR and a variety of other business publications.

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Table of Contents

1 You can't always trust the numbers 3
2 Spotting assumptions, estimates, and biases 10
3 Why increase your financial intelligence? 18
4 Profit is an estimate 33
5 Cracking the code of the income statement 38
6 Revenue : the issue is recognition 46
7 Costs and expenses : no hard-and-fast-rules 52
8 The many forms of profit 64
9 Understanding balance sheet basics 75
10 Assets : more estimates and assumptions (except for cash) 82
11 On the other side : liabilities and equity 93
12 Why the balance sheet balances 99
13 The income statement affects the balance sheet 102
14 Cash is a reality check 113
15 Profit [actual symbol not reproducible] cash (and you need both) 117
16 The language of cash flow 124
17 How cash connects with everything else 128
18 Why cash matters 137
19 The power of ratios 145
20 Profitability ratios : the higher the better (mostly) 151
21 Leverage ratios : the balancing act 158
22 Liquidity ratios : can we pay our bills? 162
23 Efficiency ratios : making the most of your assets 165
24 The building blocks of ROI 177
25 Figuring ROI : the nitty-gritty 184
26 The magic of managing the balance sheet 199
27 Your balance sheet levers 203
28 Homing in on cash conversion 209
29 Financial literacy and corporate performance 217
30 Financial literacy strategies 223
31 Financial transparency : our ultimate goal 228
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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted May 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Good Book

    As a director of HR, I am continually surprised at the number of HR professionals that are disengaged from their company's profit and loss. A recent survey of business executives validated my personal observations about my chosen profession. According to this group, HR is often viewed as follows:

    1. Neither Strategic nor Leaders
    2. Resists Creativity
    3. Enforces Silly rules
    4. Impedes Change
    5. Measured on Activities not $ Results
    6. Henchmen for Top Management
    7. Service Only

    This important book will help us to address numbers 1, 5 and 7. Having at least a basic sense of the financial arena will improve our integrity and respect in the eyes of upper management. Continually developing and implementing activities with no eye to the bottom line results in the current world-view of HR. I know that many within HR will disagree with me and that is fine. I realize there are pockets of excellence but as a general rule, we are still evolving.

    The authors have performed the heavy lifting for us by publishing this book. It is an excellent place to start laying the financial foundation upon which we can make good decisions and grow our human resources departments into results-based teams. Their book teaches us to ask intelligent questions and to challenge the data. Most importantly, it instructs us in the imperative world of ROI. ROI should be the hallmark of every HR organization.

    I hope you find this review helpful.

    Michael L. Gooch, SPHR - Author of Wingtips with Spurs: Cowboy Wisdom for Today's Business Leaders.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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