Financial Intelligence for HR Professionals

By Karen Berman and Joe Knight with John Case

Published April 22, 2008 by the Harvard Business Press

For some time now, human relations professionals have been expected to be versed in the language of business, that is, the numbers. Bottom line results influence hiring and firing decisions and return on investment is no longer just the finance department’s concern. While most senior-level human resources leaders are comfortable with their fiscal responsibilities, many managers still feel the rush of fear, a cold sweat or a feeling of inadequacy when faced with balance sheets and income statements.

Karen Berman and Joe Knight are the owners of the Los Angeles-based Business Literacy Institute and have spent more than 20 years teaching executives and managers at all levels how financial success is measured and how they make an impact. In 2006 their best-selling book Financial Intelligence helped general managers understand the value and power of understanding the numbers and knowing what’s behind them. Their new book, Financial Intelligence for HR Professionals: What You Really Need to Know About the Numbers (Harvard Business Press, April 22, 2008) is written specifically for the human resource expert and will demystify financial terms and tools, showing how to use this knowledge to gauge a company’s performance and make better departmental and strategic decisions.

Filled with clear examples, engaging case studies, and useful toolkits at the end of each chapter, along with all new practices at the end of the book, Financial Intelligence for HR Professionals provides managers with the four basic skill sets needed to hone their financial intelligence:
  1. Understanding the foundation: How to decipher income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements.
  2. Understanding the art: How to identify when the artful aspects of finance have been applied to the numbers and what that means to drawing accurate conclusions.
  3. Understanding the analysis: How to make informed decisions based on the information underneath ratios and return on investment.
  4. Understanding the big picture: How to value the context created by changes in the economy and the competitive environment and what that means for interpreting a company's financial numbers.
Beyond ensuring that human resources managers have this core knowledge, this book will help them take the next step so that they can confidently speak the language of business; ask insightful questions about what is underneath the numbers; and most importantly, use this information to analyze data and make decisions that improve the bottom line and create better value for their company. Intelligence for HR Professionals is a must-read for the human resource experts who want to be able to talk confidently about the numbers and make a difference in their organization.