Financial Management: a reflection

Marc Armitage

By Marc Armitage, current student of the University of Sydney Business School’s MBA program

As part of the University of Sydney Business School MBA program, the Financial Management unit of study was conducted over two weekends and a fair bit of study in the first half of semester two. Holding court was Associate Professor Nigel Finch, whose dry wit and amusing anecdotes turned a potentially dry subject into an interesting and often humourous dialogue.

In discussions with other students since finishing this subject, it’s clear that people got very different things out of Financial Management. Perhaps the most common one has been the translation of financial discussion and commentaries into plain language. One of Nigel’s key teachings was about demystifying some of the common valuation techniques, assessment methods and financial decisions made by managers and the companies which they represent. Nigel taught that good financial management is just as much about asking the right questions than what the answers are. The more knowledge you have, the better questions you can ask.

I found Financial Management to be just as much about managing your own personal decisions as much as anything else. The concepts of how you measure value and planning where you want to be in the future are very important. As we go through life, earn money, hopefully win lotto or get lucky on the Melbourne Cup we are always presented with financial decisions to make. A lot of us are never going to be financial managers but a baseline level of knowledge raises our chances of making good decisions.

Nigel’s views on some very established and well known methods of financial evaluation could be quite controversial. But while he clearly feels strongly about those views they weren’t put to the class in a forced manner. More so in a manner which suggested – “here’s a couple more things to have in your tool box – take them or leave them it’s up to you”. This has been a clear theme throughout all my subjects in the MBA actually. You can do your subjects, do your assessments and forget it all if you want. This would represent a missed opportunity.

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