Now I usually tell people I study business because I receive blank stares if I say I study “financial management.” And it’s understandable because the words are rather vague. So for anyone choosing between different business courses, I hope in this post to elucidate the “financial management” phrase and summarize the various classes I am taking at Middlesex, beginning with the first term. (Caveats: Curriculum may change from year to year, and January starters may have a different schedule than I did.)
Personally, corporate finance was my favorite subject. We learned about basic finance concepts, including the time value of money (money today is worth more than money tomorrow); valuing stocks and bonds; evaluating different corporate projects undertaken by a firm (which projects merit the firm’s investment?); and working capital management (how much of the short-term assets should a firm hold onto?). The most difficult part will be in understanding the concepts behind each equation. For this, I had to spend a lot of time in my book, and investopedia.com became my best friend.
In terms of the coursework, we had a few graded assignments and also seminar assignments. We also had a group project, which involved using all the concepts we learned in class to analyze a company of our own choosing. Each group member had to choose a company within the same industry, and then we presented our findings to the class. And finally, we are writing a report about our findings. My group chose the auto industry, so we each analyzed an auto company, and we are still working on the report. This is because corporate finance lasts two terms, so the coursework is presented and completed in the second term, though we have the first term to form groups, choose an industry, and begin the analysis.
Corporate governance was more theoretical in nature and involved mainly reading and writing essays. We read about corporate social responsibility reporting (reporting information on the firm’s social and environmental impact); agency theory (which assumes managers will act in their own self-interest, rather than the interest of shareholders), and other related theories. We also read about assurance of sustainability reports and whether it is a meaningful practice. Overall, this course covered the responsibilities of managers and firms to shareholders, society, and the environment.
Entrepreneurial finance covered issues related to financing new businesses. Since many new ventures find it difficult to obtain bank loans, we learned about alternative sources of financing. Other topics included budgeting, the life cycle of a firm, and the process of going public.
We did write two short essays for this class, but the biggest assignment was our group business plan. We had to come up with an idea for a new business and write a business plan for it. We then presented this to the class.
Financial Accounting involved basic accounting concepts and learning how to prepare financial statements. We also studied the ratios used to evaluate company performance and discussed the International Financial Reporting Standards, which are an attempt to harmonize accounting practice internationally. Finally, we discussed the pros and cons of a controversial area of accounting, which is fair value accounting.
We wrote a short essay for this class, but the biggest assignment was the group project, in which we chose a company and evaluated its performance by using ratios and examining the financial statements.
Well, that ends the summary of my first term at Middlesex Uni! It is only a summary though, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask!