Most helpful critical review
39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
decent but flawed
on April 29, 2001
As a liberal arts major, I desperately needed to familiarize myself with business finance concepts during the year prior to my MBA program (I'll start B-School in Fall 2001), and turned to "The Portable MBA in Finance and Accounting" for help due to the "best in class" reputation of the series. Though not entirely disappointed, I really do not feel this book lived up to its top billing.
I found a lot of the sections unclear, mostly because the authors skimp on the necessary math, trying to describe numeric concepts with words; Sort of like "using a screwdriver to carve roast beef," as Tom Robbins once quipped. Additionally, the Portable MBA series' format, with different authors each writing a chapter, detracts from the book's cohesiveness. A book by one author (or several edited into one continuous voice) tends to hold together better. For example, I got more out of the briefer introduction to fiscal management, "Finance and Accounting for the Non-Financial Manager" by Steven Finkler due to its one-voice cohesiveness than I did from the Portable MBA.
On the up side, the first chapter is a brilliant exposition on how day-to-day business activities translate into the standard accounting reports. This section also illustrates how a manager can use spreadsheets to observe how changing prices or costs affect the "bottom line," and how financials can be used to build a strategy. I also found the chapter on budgeting quite helpful. However, when the book delves into finance, the lack of math really begins to take its toll. If it weren't for the Finkler book, I doubt I would have the faintest idea what capital budgeting was all about. All things considered, "The PMBA in F&A" is a decent but flawed book. However, when it is on, it is brilliant.