Finance and Accounting for the Non-Financial Manager

Program Overview

Emphasizing the importance of financial data on the decision-making process, Finance and Accounting for the Non-Financial Manager allows non-financial business executives to become better users of financial information so they can be more strategic contributors to their organization.

No matter what functional background you have — strategy, marketing, engineering, or operations — you'll learn concepts around accounting in a straightforward, easy-to-grasp manner, enabling you to use finance instruments to add value when your company makes growth and strategic allocation decisions. The program concludes with a Capstone Case Discussion where you apply what you've learned to assess your company's performance following a financial crisis.

Academic Director Richard Lambert says this program will teach you how to think in financial terms.

Program Experience

Program Highlights & Benefits

In Finance and Accounting for the Non-Financial Manager, you will:

  • Learn financial terminology and general financial principles
  • Interpret financial statements
  • Make the distinction between income and cash flow
  • Gain exposure to diverse financial approaches, including methods of valuation
  • Become adept in financial decision-making

Experience & Impact

Academic Director Richard A. Lambert on Wharton’s finance faculty

Having a solid understanding of income statements and balance sheets is no longer just the domain of the CFO or controller. All functional leaders, regardless of their area of focus, benefit from understanding these financial tools. Finance and Accounting for the Non-Financial Manager is designed to give you the foundational knowledge and the tools to be a more informed business leader who can weigh financial risks and costs when evaluating strategy and driving new initiatives.

Wharton faculty — led by Professor Richard Lambert, a leading authority on financial reporting as well as cost and management accounting, and author of the book Financial Literacy for Managers — help participants use and interpret actual financial statements, drawing conclusions about a business from the financial figures.

Emphasizing the importance of gaining a big-picture perspective by analyzing qualitative questions about a business, the program offers instructional case studies featuring real business scenarios and daily financial practice applications to enhance the learning experience. Throughout the finance and accounting program, participant interaction and discussion lead to a rich classroom experience. In sum, this program provides managers with a better grounding in finance-driven decision-making. The finance and accounting instruments allow participants to better evaluate their firms growth, profitability, investment for the future, and debt exposure.

Session topics include:

  • Financial Statements
  • Present Value Techniques and Applications
  • Evaluating Projects
  • Assessing Earnings Quality
  • Cost Accounting and Managerial Accounting
  • Financing, Leverage, and Options
  • Strategy and Oversight

This program will show participants how to interpret financial statements, calculate the value of income and payments, and evaluate projects based on cost and revenue implications. Participants will gain a new understanding of the financial drivers in a business and how to make decisions in a financial context.

Guided Review Sessions

Your understanding and retention of classroom material is reinforced with guided review sessions. Led by Adjunct Professor of Accounting Peggy Bishop Lane, who also serves as vice dean of Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives, these sessions will be held in the evening during the first three days of the program, and are completely optional for participants to join. These review sessions will give you an opportunity to dive more deeply into the program material, get answers to your specific accounting questions, and get more practice in performing key calculations. For example, because the program includes calculating net present value, and value income and payments, Professor Lane will guide participants with additional practice in performing these calculations. These review sessions also help participants begin to apply what they are learning to their organizations.

Capstone Case Discussion

A highlight of the program is the capstone case discussion, which builds on all the concepts taught in the course. Participants will evaluate a firm’s financial statements and apply their knowledge to determine whether the firm can achieve a turnaround after undergoing a financial crisis.

Overall, you will:

  • Learn the basics of income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements
  • Analyze and draw conclusions from financial statements
  • Determine how to forecast future revenues
  • Account for expenses that can’t be assigned to specific items
  • Apply cost accounting principles for financial reporting and product costing
  • Understand the ways companies can reduce their exposure to a range of risks, focusing on financial instruments and derivatives

Are you already familiar with basic accounting terms and need more advanced finance skills? Wharton Finance for Executives provides more insight on how to evaluate the impact of financial decisions.

Who Should Attend

Professor Richard A. Lambert on who should attend this program

Finance and Accounting for the Non-Financial Manager is designed for functional managers from across a company who do not have formal training in finance and accounting.

Participants in this program are managers from virtually every non-finance area. They work in multiple industries and geographies. Faculty tailor the program content to address these issues, so participants enjoy a learning experience that truly resonates with them and meets their learning needs.

Participants have ranged from managers with no experience with financial concepts and finance techniques to executives who wish to update their knowledge of basic finance and accounting functions. The program frequently attracts managers from creative, scientific, or technical fields.

Participants leave the program with an expanded peer network, plus financial tools they can use to be more strategic leaders.

Fluency in English, written and spoken, is required for participation in Wharton Executive Education programs unless otherwise indicated.

Group Enrollment

To further leverage the value and impact of this program, we encourage companies to send cross-functional teams of executives to Wharton. We offer group enrollment benefits to companies sending four or more participants.

Participant Profile

Participants by Industry

Finance and Accounting for the Non-Financial Manager participants by industry

Participants by Job Function

Finance and Accounting for the Non-Financial Manager participants by job function

Participants by Region

Finance and Accounting for the Non-Financial Manager participants by region


Richard Lambert, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Academic Director

Miller-Sherrerd Professor; Professor of Accounting, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Financial reporting, cost analysis, incentive compensation plans

Brian Bushee, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Geoffrey T. Boisi Professor of Accounting, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Corporate disclosure, institutional investors, stock market anomalies

Christopher Ittner, PhDSee Faculty Bio

EY Professor of Accounting; Chairperson, Accounting Department, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Cost accounting, intangible assets, performance measurement

Robert Holthausen, PhDSee Faculty Bio

The Nomura Securities Co. Professor; Professor of Accounting; Professor of Finance, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Effects of organizational structure on financial performance, management compensation issues, valuation

Peggy Lane, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Vice Dean, MBA Program for Executives; Adjunct Professor of Accounting, The Wharton School

Robert Verrecchia, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Elizabeth F. Putzel Professor; Professor of Accounting, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Discretionary disclosure, financial accounting, information economics


The final course I took to earn my Certificate of Professional Development (CPD) from Wharton was Finance and Accounting for Non-Financial Managers. A core thing I learned was a better understanding of net present value. I remember a professor saying that the difference between a regular college student versus a Wharton undergrad is they leave understanding net present value. He said that can be the difference between earning a five-digit salary and a six-digit salary. That really stuck with me.

If you're looking at being an entrepreneur as well as looking at new opportunities in other companies and industries, the Wharton School is for you. Understanding the value of cash now versus the future is definitely something that will come into play in my business and personal life.

It’s good for managers to take the Finance and Accounting for the Non-Financial Manager class so they can understand more about what the controllers and accountants in their companies are going through — it really opened my eyes. As someone who has earned a CPD, I would highly recommend Wharton’s programs."

Eric SabatoWestern Regional Sales Manager, Carber Holdings Inc.

As my organization’s engagement officer, I support our field staff who work directly with schools and our university partners across the country. Immediately after finishing Wharton’s Finance and Accounting for the Non-Financial Manager program, I participated at a much higher level in discussions with our CFO, CEO, and other leaders. We are growing rapidly, going from 49 staff to 150 in three years, and while that’s exciting, we have to make really smart decisions about how to allocate resources.

As a former teacher, school administrator, and district administrator, I had budgetary responsibilities, but I didn’t understand cost of goods sold, how to book assets, or how research and development fits into the financing and accounting side of an organization. Wharton improved my understanding of valuation and cash flow, how to capitalize assets, and how to depreciate elements when we are making big decisions about growth and resources. This learning is very relevant to the work I do every day as a senior leader for my organization.

The program occurred during one of the worst snow storms to hit Philadelphia in years — the university was closed and so was much of the city, but we didn’t miss a beat. Wharton had staff stay the night — they did whatever they had to do to deliver a high-quality program. Even before I left Philadelphia, I reached out to our team here since some of my colleagues wanted to deepen their finance understanding in their own work. I highly recommend the Wharton program — it’s something I continue to build on. Wharton has followed up and made additional connections for me to continue that learning.”

David L. DimmettSenior VP & Chief Engagement Officer, Project Lead The Way (PLTW), a leading provider of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs in U.S. schools

By the end of the week, I was having in-depth discussions about finance that I never would have believed possible prior to this course.”

VP/General Sales Manager, Computer Manufacturer

As a sales and marketing professional moving into a P&L management role, it was crucial for me to understand the financial implications of my decisions to our company and our customers. This class has provided me with confidence to ask more questions and as a result make better decisions! Thank you!”

Director, Soft Drink Manufacturer

The instructors were knowledgeable and passionate about their material. The presentations/lectures were delivered in an excellent manner by financial analysts who are experts in this field.”

Customer Director, Manufacturer

Dates, Cost, & Location

January 14 - 18, 2019Philadelphia, PA$10,950

May 13 - 17, 2019Philadelphia, PA$10,950

Download the program schedule, including session details.

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Logistics Information

Tuition for this program includes lodging and most meals. Prices are subject to change.

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