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Accounting & Economics ►Finance Professional Certificate Program with Externship




The Finance Professional

Businesses of all kinds require professionals who understand the intricacies of finance in a variety of ways. Finance professionals have the opportunity to put their skills to work in a number of different fields providing analytical support that helps to drive the most important decisions for C-level executives. This program presents students with the frameworks and tools used to measure value – both in terms of corporate and personal assets. Students will gain a fundamental understanding of the principles of valuation, the concepts of time value of money and risk as well as the major determinants of value creation.


The Finance Professional Program

Taking students through both theoretical and real-world examples to demonstrate the valuation of assets, this program will help students in various decision-making processes not only in business, but in personal finance as well. Moreover, this program will introduce students to the basics of evaluating corporate financial statements, evaluating certain aspects of a company to determine its overall wealth or health, both of which go to shareholder value – every company’s overall mission. The program ensures students have a firm understanding of risk and return, individual and collective financial markets, the application of capital budgeting tools and learn how to properly evaluate capital structure and dividend policy in a global context. The program covers key language and terminology, time-value of money, financial markets and securities, financial statements, financial analysis, risk and return, valuation of stocks and bonds, capital budgeting and valuation, cost of capital and capital structure, working capital management, dividend policy, and international finance.

Program Objectives

At the conclusion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Explain why the primary role of the firm and the financial manager is to maximize shareholder wealth
  • Analyze financial statements
  • Apply time-value of money tools
  • Explain risk and return relationships
  • Evaluate financial markets and securities traded on financial markets
  • Apply capital budgeting tools
  • Evaluate capital structure and dividend policy
  • Evaluate how international issues impact the firm
  • Use Microsoft Office

UNDERSTANDING THE ROLE OF THE FIRM AND FINANCIAL MANAGER

  • Recognize the primary goal of the firm
  • Describe the key activities of the financial manager
  • Justify the importance of finance to business careers
  • Identify key forms of business organization
  • Analyze ethical situations in finance
  • Define agency theory
  • Describe the relationship between agency theory and the firm
  • Trace the implications of the efficient markets hypothesis

FINANCIAL MARKETS, FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS AND INTEREST RATES

  • Describe the different roles of financial institutions and financial markets
  • Distinguish between the money market, capital market, primary market, and secondary market
  • State the differences between organized exchange and the over-the-counter market
  • Contrast equity versus debt
  • Explain how common stock is issued
  • Identify examples of corporate bonds
  • Identify the nominal rate of return, the real rate of return, the inflation premium and the risk premium
  • Understand the relationship between corporate bond ratings and risk
  • Describe a yield curve and how each of the three basic theories explain its shape

UNDERSTANDING FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

  • Recognize the difference between cash and profit
  • Explain how depreciation impacts financial decision makingv
  • Distinguish between book value and market value
  • Identify the three major financial statements
  • Explain how financial statements are used in forecasting
  • Compare the advantages and disadvantages of using historical data
  • Demonstrate how tax issues can impact financial decision making

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND RATIO ANALYSIS

  • Recognize the purpose of ratio analysis with internal and external users
  • Calculate the current ratio and quick ratio
  • State the uses of liquidity ratios
  • Calculate asset utilization ratios including inventory turnover, receivables turnover, and total asset turnover
  • Demonstrate how asset utilization ratios impact financial decision making
  • Calculate TIE and debt ratios
  • Calculate profitability and market value ratios including ROE, ROA, market-to-book, and P/E ratios
  • Name the limitations of ratio analysis

APPLYING TIME VALUE OF MONEY TOOLS

  • Explain the concept of time value of money, including compounding and discounting
  • Compute the present and future value of a single sum
  • Calculate present value and future value of ordinary annuities, annuities due and perpetuities
  • Value an asset with a mixed stream of cash flows
  • Solve for the interest rate and number of periods
  • Adjust the time value of money formulas for more frequent compounding
  • Calculate the effective annual rate
  • Apply time value of money concepts to a personal situation
  • Solve for the payment of a loan, annual retirement savings, and growth rate
  • Describe the three key things necessary to value any asset
  • Identify the generic formula needed to value any asset

UNDERSTANDING RISK AND RETURN RELATIONSHIPS

  • Calculate the return of stock over a single year
  • Calculate the expected return and standard deviation of a single asset
  • Choose between two assets based upon risk and return
  • Calculate the expected return and standard deviation of a portfolio
  • Provide real life examples of market risk and firm specific risk
  • Explain the relationship between correlation, diversification and risk
  • Differentiate between total risk, market risk and diversifiable or firm specific risk
  • Describe Beta and its importance in finance
  • Define the capital asset pricing model (CAPM)
  • Solve for the required return using the CAPM
  • Graph the Security Market Line (SML)

VALUATION OF STOCKS AND BONDS

  • Apply time value of money concepts to a personal situation
  • Use the constant growth stock valuation method
  • Calculate the dividend payment and value of a preferred stock
  • Calculate the value of a common stock, assuming no growth and constant growth
  • Value a bond with annual & semi-annual coupon payments
  • Calculate the yield to maturity (YTM) of a bond with annual and semi-annual coupon payments
  • Analyze how bond values are affected by the coupon payment, time to maturity, market interest rates, and par value
  • Identify various bond features including par value, coupon rate and maturity
  • List two possible reasons why the required return on a bond may differ from its par value
  • Compare preferred stock to bonds and to common stock

UNDERSTANDING AND APPLYING CAPITAL BUDGETING TOOLS

  • Recognize the primary goal of the firm
  • Describe the key activities of the financial manager
  • Compute the present and future value of a single sum
  • Calculate present value and future value of ordinary annuities, annuities due and perpetuities
  • Value an asset with a mixed stream of cash flows
  • Apply time value of money concepts to a personal situation
  • Explain the capital budgeting process
  • Solve capital budgeting decisions with the Net Present Value (NPV) method
  • Use the payback method to make capital budgeting decisions
  • Show how the IRR method is used for capital budgeting decisions
  • Identify factors that may impact project ranking
  • Define capital rationing
  • Calculate the Profitability Index
  • Differentiate fixed versus variable costs
  • Perform a break-even analysis

IDENTIFYING RELEVANT CASH FLOWS FOR CAPITAL BUDGETING

  • State the importance of incremental cash flows
  • Compare expansion and replacement projects
  • Compare independent and mutually exclusive projects
  • Identify sunk, opportunity, and other relevant costs
  • Explain how changes in Net Working Capital (NWC) impact capital budgeting
  • Calculate the incremental operating cash flows of an expansion and replacement project
  • Calculate the terminal cash flow of a capital budgeting project
  • Calculate the gain or loss of the sale of an asset and the tax cost or benefit associated with each

UNDERSTANDING THE COST OF CAPITA

  • Explain Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC)
  • Calculate after-tax cost of debt
  • Calculate the cost of preferred stock
  • Calculate the cost of equity using the dividend valuation model
  • Calculate the required return using the WACC formula
  • Describe why the WACC should be used to evaluate individual projects rather than the particular funding used for individual projects
  • Use the constant growth stock valuation method
  • Calculate the dividend payment and value of a preferred stock
  • Calculate the value of a common stock, assuming no growth and constant growth
  • Value a bond with annual & semi-annual coupon payments
  • Calculate the yield to maturity (YTM) of a bond with annual and semi-annual coupon payments
  • Explain how RADR can be used to adjust for various risk factors among projects within a firm
  • Provide real life examples of market risk and firm specific risk (NA

MANAGING CURRENT ASSETS AND CURRENT LIABILITIES

  • Justify the importance of working capital management
  • State the purpose and steps to complete a cash budget
  • Complete a simple cash budget
  • Demonstrate the use of the cash conversion cycle
  • Explain how the cash conversion cycle is shortened
  • Justify the importance of credit standards
  • Calculate the cost of forgoing trade discounts
  • Compare unsecured and secured short term liabilities
  • Explain the importance of inventory management

CAPITAL STRUCTURE, DIVIDENDS, AND INTERNATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

  • Define capital structure
  • Describe, in theory, the optimal capital structure
  • Recognize how financial leverage affects Earning Per Share (EPS)
  • List two reasons why dividends matter
  • Indicate when a dividend can be paid
  • Name the factors affecting Dividend Policy
  • List two common types of dividend policies
  • Define stock splits and stock dividends
  • Convert foreign currencies to home currency
  • Describe three methods of international expansion
  • Recall three sources of international risk
  • Identify two techniques for managing international risk

Note: This program can be completed in 6 months. However, students will have online access to this program for a 24-month period.

Education and National Certifications

  • Students should have or be pursuing a high school diploma or GED.
  • There are no state approval and/or state requirements associated with this program.
  • There are several National Certification exams that are available to students who successfully complete this program:
    • Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Certification Exam.

National Certification

Upon successful completion of this Auburn University program, students would be eligible to sit for the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) exam. Although there are no state approval, state registration or other state requirements for this program, students who complete this program at Auburn University will be prepared and are eligible to sit for this national certification exam. Students who complete this program are encouraged to complete the externship option with their program. Students who complete this program can and do sit for the MOS national certification exams and are qualified, eligible and prepared to do so. Auburn University works with each student to complete the exam application and register the student to take their national certification exam.


Externship / Hands on Training / Practicum

Although not a requirement, once students complete the program, they have the ability to participate in an externship and/or hands on practicum so as to practice the skills necessary to perform the job requirements of a professional in this field. Students will be assisted with completing a resume and/or other requirements necessary to work in this field. All students who complete this program are eligible to participate in an externship and will be placed with a participating organization near their location. Auburn University works with national organizations and has the ability to place students in externship opportunities nationwide.