Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thoughts on Finance Classes

What is most striking to me about the majority of my finance classes is that theory is not really emphasized, while formulas are of the utmost importance.

I don't want to knock math, per se. However, a lot of what we learn ends up feeling a bit disjointed. Attend a class day after day, where one formula gets listed after another, and it's very easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and get lost in variables.

The formulas largely consist of valuations. Bond valuations, stock valuations, etc. They are immensely important to understand the cost of the capital structure, which is in turn important to understanding how the firm makes expansion decisions.

HOWEVER, our finance classes generally fail to highlight the bigger picture. They also generally fail to move a quick pace, meaning that we don't look at weighted average capital costs until late in the semester, when bad grades and the daily grind have generally sapped all interest. This is exacerbated when we don't look at the psychology of firm decision making and look exclusively at finances.

An improvement I would make? What variables would change the factors involved in the equation? What would change the discount rate, the capitalization rate, the stock growth rate, etc etc.

In my opinion, it would go a long way to making the course seem more "real" and generating interest in introductory finance courses.

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