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The Portable MBA in Finance and Accounting
Format: HardcoverChange
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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
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.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Well written explanations of important subjects, such as how to find essential information in financial statements, how to price products and make profitable bids, legally minimizing taxes for your small business, managing financial risks with options, hedges and derivatives, using your computer for financial analysis, etc. etc. Why spend time and money for an MBA when its all here.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book has the quality of a one year course in finance and accounting. Even if you have only a high school diploma you can understand it. Don't let this comment fool you. The authors of this book have made complex concepts seem simple.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I think if you are using this book as the sole basis for "pre-studying" for an MBA program, you are going to be pretty shocked in a descent biz grad school program. It isn't a bad book, but as one other commenter mentioned it uses pretty broad strokes on theory without explaining the underlying detail (i.e. practical formulas, analysis, in depth case studies). So it is sort of half way between a real text book and one of the typical broad stroke popular business books. After reading it, get a reading list for an MBA managerial finance course, go to your university bookstore and have a little read - I think you will see the difference in audience and expectations.

To be more effective it really needs an accompanying workbook and CD with questions and answers based on the content - aimed at a graduate level. Expectations regarding analysis are generally pretty high in most MBA programs and understanding the level of analysis you should be capable of providing (fairly rapidly) to case studies/problems is important.

Not a bad book for a refresher if you already have done a number of business courses. Especially if you have texts still that fill in the blanks.

I rate it...ok.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I liked the way the book didn't get bogged down in too much math. The capital budgeting chapters were clear, much more to the point than the textbooks I tried to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I wish I had a photographic memory and that I remembered everything I learned in school 15 years ago, but thankfully, I don't have to because I have the portable MBA to refresh my memory. I highly recommend this book. I'd recommend this to even those without an Accounting or Finance degree in order to have a greater understanding of how their company is run - or even running their own company's financial decisions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Tired of reading finance books that are light on detail? Then look no further. I noticed while thinking about this review that the dust jacket reads: "...even if you have no prior background in finance and accounting you'll quickly learn how to...understand and use financial derivatives...serve as a director of a corporation...take your company public." That's a pretty tall order. But then, it is 658 pages and published by Wiley (technical publisher). I think a more accurate statement would be: "If you have prior background in finance or accounting and want to brush up on ..." Unless your very smart, or can spend a lot of time reading and re-reading the material, I just don't think this book will make your ready to use financial derivatives, serve as a director of a corporation, or take your company public. I give it 4 stars, in part because of the awesome charts and graphs.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book has what you will need in a portable MBA. It is selective, has scope and completeness and is fast paced. You will need to be very focused to read it but that is only expected.
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Format: Hardcover
I bagan using the Portable MBA in Finance and Accounting for Executive MBA students in the Fall of 2007. A number of my students found the previous book difficult to understand. The Portable MBA answered their questions and brought together the subjects of accounting and finance better than any other book that I have found. It is this combination of the two subjects that are necessary for a top tier CFO and by extension to all who work with the CFO.

The book is thorough and brought rave reviews from students who had used other books and found them lacking. It is the right book for an aspiring C level executive regardless of discipline.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
As an undergraduate, I studied political science; as a graduate student, I studied history (among other things) - however, few if any of my classes ever dealt with the actual mechanics of business, despite dealing with business in a more general sense (as it would fit in the context of history and politics). I decided that it was important to learn some of the basic concepts of business administration, and the Portable MBA series by John Wiley & Sons publishers fit the bill.

This book on finance and accounting is a tricky read at times - it tries to present what is in essence a numerical enterprise in language that a liberal arts graduate would understand, with a minimum of mathematics. Despite my liberal arts background, I am actually also well trained in math, so I found this occasionally frustrating. However, I can see the purpose in it. The first section deals with understanding such basics as financial statements, cost-profit-volume analysis, activity-based costing, budgetary issues, and how computers work (generally speaking) in the area of accounting and finance. The second section looks at planning and forecasting - this is a real help in understanding the financial pages of the newspaper, and also provides some insight for understanding what the government statistics that are released on financial and budgetary matters mean. The third section looks at issues of finance more narrowly, at things such as mergers and acquisitions (sometimes big in the news), public offerings of stock, just what a board of governors/directors does, and what bankruptcy means (how can major corporations go bankrupt and still be flying, for example?).

The authors who contributed to this volume have both academic and professional experience, and tend to do a good job at explaining things in terms that the non-professional can understanding. Anyone with a basic undergraduate background should find this volume accessible. However, accounting is a world of its own, and takes some effort to understand, so I will not make the assertion that this book is an easy one to read.

While I am far from being able to help anyone with their accounting homework, I am pleased that I am able to understand the terminology and concepts as accounting instructors at my college discuss their lesson plans and instructional issues. This book is in large part responsible for that.
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