Monday, October 21, 2013

10 Reasons Why Every Manager Should take a Finance Course

We just finished a “Finance and Accounting for the Non-Financial Manager” program this week for a large client. The audience was mostly engineers – program and project managers, the ones in charge of designing and making complex stuff. It was 3.5 days, which may seem like a lot, especially for a topic that has the potential to be deadly dry and boring.
The participant’s comments and evaluations at the end of the program reminded me of why every manager (and probably every employee) really needs to have a firm grasp on the numbers and how their company makes money.

Here are 10 reasons, all of them taken from the actual evaluations:

1. You’ll know how and why decisions are made by the big dogs.

2. You’ll make smarter decisions that are more likely to be accepted by the big dogs.

3. You’ll understand that the people or companies that buy your products are not your only customers; the shareholders that buy your stock are customers too. They have different expectations and needs, and if they ain’t happy, you’ll soon not have any customers.

4. You’ll have a better appreciation for why top management or the bean counters are always asking you to fill out those reports, budgets, forecasts, and all that other stuff that you always whine about.

5. You’ll feel more like an owner of your company. After all, it’s your money too!

6. You’ll be better able to explain to your employees what’s going on in the company, why decisions are made, and help them make better decisions. You can help them feel like owners too. Caution: when employees feel like owners, no more wasting money on expensive furniture, management boondoggles, or projects with a poor net present value. They will call you on it.

7. You’ll be able to hold your own in management and board meetings. Yes, you too can speak like a CFO!

8. You’ll be better able to understand and see the top to bottom impact of your actions and decisions. The “big picture” will no longer be just a buzz word to you and your employees.

9. If you’re a staff or support person (HR, training), you’ll earn a seat at the table.

10. You’ll be more popular and get more dates. Finance and accounting is very sexy!

Want to test your own financial acumen? See how many of the following can you explain to a 5th grader: 18 Financial Terms Every Leader Needs to Know.


J.D. Meier said...

Excellent advice.

I've been recommending Financial Intelligence for IT Professionals.

I work on a Value Realization team, so I need to know how to translate work into business value realization and business value acceleration.

It helps to be able to know how to quickly do effective stakeholder management, break things down into a story without numbers, and a story with numbers. It helps to know how to look at benefits, costs, risks, and translate those into financial terms, or at least meaningful metrics and KPIs.

Dan McCarthy said...

J.D. -
Thanks for sharing your example of how you and your team have used "financial intelligence"!

Cj McClanahan said...


So very true.

I had a very unique opportunity to serve as a controller for a manufacturing company early in my career.

This foundation allows me to better assess every challenge I run into in business.

Great post - thanks for sharing.

Cj McClanahan said...


Great post.

early in my career I had the opportunity to be the controller for a small manufacturing company.

I was completely unqualified and had a great mentor who taught me the ropes.

Understanding the financial underpinnings of a company improves every decision you make.

Great post.

Dan McCarthy said...

CJ -
You're welcome! Thanks for your comment. Sounds like that was a good developmental experience for you - way better than taking a course.