Finance for Non-Finance Professionals

Past Course | Coursera | James Weston

Begin Date: November 7, 2016

Finance for Non-Finance Professionals

This short course surveys all the major topics covered in a full semester MBA level finance course, but with a more intuitive approach on a very high conceptual level. The goal here is give you a roadmap and framework for how financial professional make decisions.

We will cover the basics of financial valuation, the time value of money, compounding returns, and discounting the future. You will understand discounted cash flow (DCF) valuation and how it compares to other methods. We also step inside the mind of a corporate financial manager and develop the basic tools of capital budgeting. We will survey the how, when, and where to spend money, make tradeoffs about investment, growth, dividends, and how to ensure sound fiscal discipline. Our journey then turns to a Wall Street or capital markets perspective of investments as we discuss the fundamental tradeoff between risk and return. We then synthesize our discussion of risk with our valuation framework and incorporate it into series of direct applications to practice.

This course requires no prior familiarity with finance. Rather, it is intended to be a first step for anyone who is curious about understanding stock markets, valuation, or corporate finance. We will walk through all of the tools and quantitative analysis together and develop a guide for understanding the seemingly complex decisions that finance professionals make.

By the end of the course, you will develop an understanding of the major conceptual levers that push and pull on financial decision making and how they relate to other areas of business. The course should also serve as a roadmap for where to further your finance education and it would be an excellent introduction of any students contemplating an MBA or Finance concentration, but who has little background in the area.


Estimated Workload: 3-6 hours per week

Prerequisites: None

Certificate Offered: Yes

No Resources

Instructed by:


James Weston

James P. Weston is a professor of finance at Rice University. He joined Rice in 2000 after completing his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Virginia. Dr. Weston's teaching interests focus mainly on corporate finance and financial institutions. He has taught many popular courses on economics and finance. He is the recipient of four Jones school teaching awards, including the prestigious alumni faculty award in 2007, and 2010. Professor Weston’s research covers a wide array of corporate finance issues from banking to stock market liquidity and risk management. His research articles have appeared in many of the leading academic finance publications and have been widely cited in the popular press and in congressional testimony. James’ research papers have been presented at over 40 Universities worldwide and he routinely speaks at conferences and professional seminars. In addition to his academic work, James conducts executive education seminars, maintains professional consulting relationships, and provides expert testimony for litigation and regulatory support. He is a member of the American Finance Association, the American Economics Association, and the Financial Management Association. He is a former assistant economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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