This short course surveys all the major topics covered in a full semester MBA level finance course, but with a more intuitive approach on a very high conceptual level. The goal here is give you a roadmap and framework for how financial professional make decisions.
We will cover the basics of financial valuation, the time value of money, compounding returns, and discounting the future. You will understand discounted cash flow (DCF) valuation and how it compares to other methods. We also step inside the mind of a corporate financial manager and develop the basic tools of capital budgeting. We will survey the how, when, and where to spend money, make tradeoffs about investment, growth, dividends, and how to ensure sound fiscal discipline. Our journey then turns to a Wall Street or capital markets perspective of investments as we discuss the fundamental tradeoff between risk and return. We then synthesize our discussion of risk with our valuation framework and incorporate it into series of direct applications to practice.
This course requires no prior familiarity with finance. Rather, it is intended to be a first step for anyone who is curious about understanding stock markets, valuation, or corporate finance. We will walk through all of the tools and quantitative analysis together and develop a guide for understanding the seemingly complex decisions that finance professionals make.
By the end of the course, you will develop an understanding of the major conceptual levers that push and pull on financial decision making and how they relate to other areas of business. The course should also serve as a roadmap for where to further your finance education and it would be an excellent introduction of any students contemplating an MBA or Finance concentration, but who has little background in the area.
Course Overview and Basic Principles of Financial Valuation Discounting
-Welcome to Finance for Non-Finance Professionals! In this section you will find general information about the course and instructions on how to navigate the course. For the first week of lectures, we will be covering the basics of financial valuation. We will start with the basics of compounding and discounting rates of return over time. Using these tools we will then move on to valuation using the discounted cash flow method. Along the way, we will demonstrate our valuation tools with a variety of practical examples and compare our analysis with other valuation techniques.
How to Spend Money (Capital Budgeting tools)
-Welcome to the second week of Finance for Non-Finance Professionals! In this week of the course, we will build on the basic valuation tools from week one to start making capital budgeting decisions. Our capital budgeting review covers the basic tools like Net Present Value, Internal Rate of Return, Payback period, and return on capital. Our discussion of the relative advantages of each different tool leads us into sensitivity analysis and the advantages of spreadsheet modeling.
Measuring Cash Creation and Flow
-Welcome back to Finance for Non-Finance Professionals! In our third week together, we will go on a treasure hunt through the financial statements. Using discounted cash flows as our motivation, we search through the income statement and balance sheet for all the uses and sources of cash. Our search leads us to our primary measure of value creation: Free Cash Flow. Free cash flow will form the basis of most financial analysis and this module gives us a roadmap for estimating and forecasting cash creation within any organization.
How Much Does Money Cost? Evaluating the Cost of Capital
-Welcome back everyone! In our final week together in this course, we switch gears and take an external view of the firm from a Wall Street, or capital markets, perspective. We think about the basic tradeoff between risk and return, how to measure risk, and how to put a risk premium on different kinds of investments. We then take our analysis of risk and return and use it to estimate a firm's cost of capital. Finally, we circle back to free cash flows, capital budgeting and valuation to tie together all four weeks and get ready for our capstone case analysis.
Capstone Case: Putting it All Back Together from Main Street to Wall Street
-In this final part of the course we bring all of our analysis to bear on a realistic case study. We will evaluate the investment prospects of Sunrise Bakery. As their CFO considers a large capital expenditure, she needs to think about the tradeoff between spending money today and generating more free cash flow in the future. Our job in this case is to forecast the amount of cash generation the new equipment will produce, discount the cash flows, and use all of our capital budgeting tools to make a sound financial recommendation.