Finance

Resources for Improving Finance Department Operations

  • What is Finance?

    A Finance Department is responsible for managing a company's long-term and day-to-day monetary operations and strategy. Its size varies based upon total employee head count, total revenue, industry, and overall business strategy. The Finance department provides sound fiscal processes, policies, planning and strategy. The group is responsible for incoming and outgoing payments (Accounts Payable/Receivable), budgeting, planning and analysis, asset management (fixed and liquid), tax management, general accounting, and cash management (treasury). Some groups may also be responsible for payroll, internal audit and compliance, risk management and expense management, but these tasks are often outsourced.
  • The History of Finance

    Necessity was the mother of the corporate finance function. Baltimore needed to get its goods to the east, and in 1827 merchants and bankers created the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company. A railroad was too costly to build with internal profits, and investors wanted good financial reporting. By 1840, the railroad was issuing comprehensive annual reports. A balance sheet, then called a "statement of affairs," was included, but concepts like the depreciation of fixed assets were not known.

    At the start of the 20th century, many companies did not issue financial statements, and efforts by the government to compel them to do so were met with opposition. After the 1929 market crash, the government set up the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and pushed private industry to establish the Generally Acceptable Accounting Principles (GAAP). With FDRs New Deal legislation in the 1930s, corporate governance and transparency became the norm.
  • Modern Trends in Finance

    Scandals at Enron and other companies led to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which created new regulations for corporate governance. Outsourcing and offshoring of financial functions – from Accounts Payable to statutory reporting – is growing. Despite reforms, fault lines in the system still appear, particularly in the financial crash born in the mortgage derivatives market in 2008.

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