University of Southern California

Understanding Finance and Accounting


Finance and Accounting



Location Details:

USC, University Park Campus, Los Angeles, California
The course runs from 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM each day.

April 14, 2015 - April 16, 2015
October 13, 2015 - October 15, 2015

Due to course pre-work registration for this course will close two weeks prior to course start date.


Experienced managers in marketing, sales, production, engineering, R & D, human resources and others who do not have financial backgrounds but want to expand their knowledge of finance and financial measures of performance will want to participate in these intense three day course. Understanding Finance and Accounting will equip non-financial managers with the financial knowledge necessary to communicate more effectively with financial managers, analyze financial statements and understand how they relate, interpret a company's profitability, solvency and liquidity, explore the sources and costs of capital and the factors of investment decisions, and learn valuation principles and their impact on the value drivers of the firm.


Participants will learn how to:

  • Read and understand balance sheets and income statements
  • Understand how common economic transactions impact financial statements
  • Evaluate a company's financial performance
  • Analyze financial statements and understand the drivers of firm value
  • Explore the sources and costs of capital and factors of investment decisions
  • Learn alternative business valuation principles and how they impact the value drivers of the firm


  • Overview of Financial Statements
    • It is difficult to be an effective manager without a solid understanding of the primary financial statements. The first session introduces the basic financial statements and illustrates them through a variety of real-world examples. The objective of this first session is to provide a 30,000 foot overview of the concepts that underpin the basic financial statements.
  • The Balance Sheet
    • The components of the balance sheet - assets, liabilities and equity - are the economic building blocks of business enterprises. This session focuses on how to read and understand balance sheets and how to understand firms' financing and investment decisions. We look at the balance sheets of several major corporations as examples.
  • The Income Statement
    • The revenues minus the expenses reported in the income statement equal the proverbial "bottom line." We will find out that it's not always easy to decide when a company has earned revenues or when it has incurred expenses. Importantly, we will learn about the concept of 'accrual-basis accounting,' a very old but very ingenious method of calculating the bottom line.
  • Transaction Analysis
    • Understanding how basic economic transactions impact the primary financial statements is fundamental to the understanding of a business enterprise. No one can really claim to understand a balance sheet or income statement unless they can coherently analyze how those statements change in the wake of common economic transactions. Thus, one portion of the course is devoted to a critical and detailed evaluation of how the financial statements are derived and how they change as a result of economic events.
  • Financial Ratio Analysis
    • The financial statements tell a story, and a careful analysis of the accounting ratios can reveal the plot. This session demonstrates how information in the financial reports can be used to evaluate management performance, credit risk, and valuation issues. We spend most of our time unraveling the mysteries contained in the annual reports of some major corporations.
  • Foundations of Finance and Introduction to Valuation
    • The sessions will begin with an overview of six basic tenets that are critical in measuring value and enhancing financial decision-making. Following those foundations, the session will allow us to explore the various basic, yet powerful, methods associated with present value and future value concepts - methods that allow us to measure what assets and liabilities are worth and to plan for future resource allocation.
  • Pricing of Stocks and Bonds; Introduction to Capital Budgeting - Measuring Value
    • Using the concepts discussed at the earlier session, the material in this session will focus on applying the techniques in order to price fixed income securities, value stocks in a basic framework, think about P/E ratios, and estimate the value of capital expenditures on fixed asset investments.
  • Issues in Forecasting Cash Flow
    • Forecasting cash flow is a critical element in estimating value. This session will explore some of the subtle issues involved in forecasting cash flow - in particular the need for external capital and the management of growth. Participants will be asked to complete estimates of cash flow and growth and discuss the assumptions they made to accomplish the task.
  • Cost of Capital and Valuation
    • The final session will include estimation of the components used in calculating the cost of capital in a company. General issues and examples will be discussed, with participants being asked to apply those concepts in estimating cost of capital for a specific company and forecasting future value.

Who Should Attend

Managers in marketing, sales, production, engineering, R & D, human resources and others who wish to know about more about accounting and finance. Participants often use (or should be using) financial statements and want to develop more confidence in their analytical skills. No prior classroom experience in accounting or finance is expected, but familiarity with the general language of business will be assumed.

Participant Testimonial

"After completing Understanding Finance and Accounting I have a much clearer comprehension of accounting, finance, purchase orders and the day-to-day operations of my company."
IT Manager, Clean Energy

"Great, relevant course! This has made the numbers and finance side of our business much easier for me to understand and work with."
Director of R&D, Windsor Foods

Teaching Method

Using case studies, current business articles, in-class exercises, interaction and small group projects, our faculty will lead you to focus on the key knowledge and skills you need to understand and apply concepts to your organization's activities.


Mark L. DeFond, PhD, CPA is The Joseph A. DeBell Professor of Business Administration and Professor at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California (USC). He received his PhD at the University of Washington in 1987 and prior to that was an auditor with the international accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche (formerly Touche Ross & Co.) for five years. He joined USC in 1987 and was on leave from 1995-97 to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Professor DeFond teaches financial accounting in the MBA program at USC and was recipient of the MBA Golden Apple teaching award in 1992, 1998 and 2000. He has also been ranked among the most outstanding MBA faculty in Business Week's Guide to the Best Business Schools several times. For more on Professor DeFond's background, click here.

Ty Callahan is an Associate Professor Clinical Finance and Business Economics at the USC Marshall School of Business. He received his PhD in Finance in 1999 from the University of California Los Angeles. He received his MBA in finance from UCLA, his MS in electrical engineering from UC Berkeley, and his BS in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

His research is in the areas of financial market microstructure and information economics. He has published in the Review of Future Markets, IEEE Proceedings, and Journal of Physical Chemistry. He has been an ad hoc referee for the Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Markets, and Journal of Empirical Finance. For more on Professor Callahan's background, click here.


$1950 per person includes tuition, course materials and parking. There is a 10% discount for three or more registrants from the same company.

CPE Credits

Understanding Finance and Accounting has been approved for 27 CPE units in Accounting (14) and Finance (13).

USC Marshall School of Business is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website:

CEU Credits

You will earn 3 CEU credits taking this IN PERSON course. A continuing education unit (CEU) is a measure used in continuing education programs, particularly those required in a licensed profession for the professional to maintain the license. A CEU unit of credit equals to 10 hours of participation in the accredited program designed for professionals with certificates or licenses to practice various professions.

Course Disclaimer

Every reasonable effort will be made to ensure this course runs as described on this web page. Please note that course dates and professors are subject to change. You will be notified by email in advance if there is a date or professor change. Additionally, this course also requires a minimum number of registrants in order to take place. You will be notified by email if the course does not meet this minimum.

Contact Us

For more information click here

Telephone: 213-740-8990
Fax: 213-740-6406

Office of Executive Education
Marshall School of Business
University of Southern California
1150 South Olive Street, Suite 2900
Los Angeles, California USA 90015-2211