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Financial Intelligence: A Manager's Guide to Knowing What the Numbers Really Mean Hardcover – January 12, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-1591397649 ISBN-10: 1591397642 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (January 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591397642
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591397649
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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

About 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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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 80 customer reviews
It was an easy read probably because it was so well written.
Jeff Lippincott
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who desires to understand financial concepts.
J. Hamilton
This book explains the basic concepts of finance in a very fluent and readable way.
Murathan Yildiz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Yvette Borcia and Gerry Stern on December 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A MUST-READ FOR EVERY DECISION-MAKER WITHOUT EXPERTISE IN FINANCE

This book is MORE than a concise, highly readable, jargon-free introduction to the fundamentals of finance for nonfinancial managers. Beyond the basics, the authors enable readers to gain a solid understanding of financial intelligence which, in essence, consists of four skill sets that help the reader understand:
1) The basics of financial measurement
2) The art and science of finance
3) How to analyze the numbers in greater depth
4) How to view financial results in context

The authors also aim to enable nonfinancial managers to:
1) speak the language
2) ask questions to figure out the what, why and how of the numbers
3) use the information in doing their jobs and see their connection with financial performance

The book's eight major sections are:
1) the art of finance and why it matters
2) the (many) peculiarities of the income statement
3) the balance sheet reveals the most
4) cash is king
5) ratios: learning what the numbers are really telling you
6) how to calculate (and really understand) return on investment
7) applied financial intelligence: working capital management
8) creating a financially intelligent department (and organization).

Excellent illustrative stories are skillfully woven into the text. The writing is superb, making the book a pleasure to read.

This is, fundamentally, a first-rate course in finance. To create a stronger (MUCH stronger) company, CEOs would be well-advised to have every nonfinancial decision-maker read this book.
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Format: Hardcover
What I particularly liked about this book was how the author revealed that knowing the basics of finance is just a start. What is often NOT covered is how to deal with the areas that can't be so easily quanitifed -and, when push comes to shove, have to be estimated and/or assumed.

In short, there is a certain amount of judgment that goes into many income statements and balance sheets. Author Joe Knight gives valuable tips on recognizing and understanding potential biases in financial information and advises readers how to correct for them...or even challenge them.

Those who know the basics will find a lot they've read before but KNOWING the basics is not the same as having true financial literacy, the kind that makes the difference between knowing what is on paper and being able to "read between the lines."

Nonfinancial managers will gain a new understanding of how to build their company's success, with solid financials.

What I particularly liked were the real stories from actual companies, proving that this book is not mere theory but actual, tested information. It is also written in a very, very accessible style. You won't need a distionary to get through it.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Wilde on January 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I am a non-financial SVP in a large credit union. This book helps me understand what the CFO is talking about. I can even add my two-cents to the ALM discussion. My contribution to the organization will never be financial brilliance but in the financial services world I need the back ground this book provides. Its clear, well organized, and right on point. I hope that all of my non-financial managers will read it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Scott Carlson on December 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've worked within the organizational structure of large corporations for years as a middle manager and reviewed reams of financial reports. Since my educational background leans more towards liberal arts than mathematical, I've always relied upon the expertise of financial professionals to make sense of the various ways the corporation has sliced and diced its financial data. As the conclusions drawn from the financial reports were generally used to evaluate my performance--or the performance of my staff--I was often left arguing with the accountants over assumptions used in the financial methodology. Unfortunately, the playing field was not level and it generally ended in frustration on my part. Now I have leveled the playing field.

After reading this book, I have a deeper understanding of the assumptions underlying the financial reports used in my company. I also have a greater knowledge base to draw from when suggesting revisions to the data analysis or spreadsheet methodology promoted by the accounting department. I have read a few financial books throughout my career and they generally have served as a great nonpharmaceutical sleep aid. This book is different. It is written in a clear, concise style that uses common examples to provide context to the financial statements and principles being explained. It makes sense to someone like me and I found it an easy read. Kudos to the authors and now I'd like to learn more about their concept of a money map.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Paul Myer on December 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As the COO of a medium sized company I have been looking for an effective way to help my non-financial department managers to more fully participate in the budgeting and planning process. I like the way that "Financial Intelligence" explains advanced financial concepts in an easy to understand way using real business examples, without "talking down" to the reader.

This book covers all of the basics of financial management but it breaks new ground by putting real financial analysis tools into the hands of every manager. We will be using this book as part of our yearly budgeting and strategy process with our entire management team.
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