4 Ways to Improve Your Financial Intelligence

Let’s be honest: Most of us who did not start our careers in finance would sooner stick a fork in our eye than to have to learn about finances. You’re an expert in your area of the business, so why bother? You likely wonder: If financials are my weakness, why not stick to developing my strengths?

“Your job performance is often measured by the financial impact you are driving,” says Valerie Conard, a senior director whose team sets pricing and promotional strategy for stuff you’ll find in Target’s home decor aisle. Conard explains why boosting your financial acumen is a solid career move: “Understanding the basics of financials, and using that knowledge to make good, informed business decisions can set you apart.”

Corporate finance can seem daunting, especially if you don’t consider yourself a “numbers person.” But if you’re interested in expanding your scope of responsibility or adding more value through your work, you’ll need at least a basic understanding of how the financials work.

I spoke to Conard about the importance of moving beyond numerophobia (yes, it’s so common there’s a name for having a fear of numbers) to get a greater grasp of the financials that are relevant to your role. “Investors in your company expect a return and every decision you make has a financial impact” she says. Think of this as a way to make better business decisions and focus your efforts where they matter most.

The good news is you can apply what you already know from your personal life to what you do at work. “You’re already managing your household budget, making sure you have enough income to cover all your expenses you’re generating,” says Conard. “Adopt an owner’s mind-set.” This means asking yourself, “What would I do if I owned this business? How would I spend this money if it was my own?” If you’re capable of prioritizing major purchases, and keeping your credit card balance under control, then you’ve grasped a fundamental principle of corporate finances.

In practice, this can look like clarifying the financial priorities that come with your role, being proactive in understanding the financial results you deliver, and using that knowledge to make any appropriate adjustments in your financial plan.

“Finances can seem scary,” acknowledges Conard, who coaches finance-averse colleagues to avoid making some common missteps. These include being hesitant to ask questions, not taking the time to understanding key metrics, or making decisions in a vacuum without considering the financial ramifications.

Improving your financial intelligence

What is Conard’s advice to someone who finds finances daunting, but wants to advance her career? Here, she offers four quick tips for where to start:

• Learn which financial metrics are important in your role.

• Don’t know a term? Google it! Investopedia.com is a great source.

• Take a class–look into resources that your company offers.

• Listen to your company’s quarterly earnings calls.

Then reach out and ask questions of your financial partners at work. “Learn the basics,” recommends Conard. “Stretch, and be a little uncomfortable, but take baby steps.”

“Financials tell a story,” Conard says. The more you understand what they are trying to tell you, the more of an asset you’ll become to your company.

Twitter
Follow Me
Tweet
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Follow by Email
Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is CEO of leadership development, consulting and research firm Be Leaderly. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

Twitter
Follow Me
Tweet
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Follow by Email
25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

Whenever I’m asked “What are some of the best questions to ask a ...

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

25 Songs For Your Leadership Playlist

What are your all-time favorite leadership songs — the ones that make you ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a question I ask in a survey ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

The Case for Why Millennial Women Should Job-Hop
The Case for Why Millennial Women Should Job-Hop

There are strong arguments for and against the debated practice, but for millennial women, job-hopping

Infographic: How to Slay a Stretch Assignment
Infographic: How to Slay a Stretch Assignment

Recent years have been full of talk about how to elevate women at work. Have you

Panel Presentations: Does Speaker Order Really Matter?
Panel Presentations: Does Speaker Order Really Matter?

On speaker panels, does the panelist order matter? If you’ve ever attended or spoken on

4 Tips for Failing Forward
4 Tips for Failing Forward

After you make a mistake, it’s easy to focus intently on your defects. And then

Press Release: Be Leaderly’s Selena Rezvani Wins 2019 Croly Award for Excellence in Journalism
Press Release: Be Leaderly’s Selena Rezvani Wins 2019 Croly Award for Excellence in Journalism

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—July 9, 2019—The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is pleased to honor Selena

4 Steps to a Flexible Work Arrangement
4 Steps to a Flexible Work Arrangement

Are you hungry for a little more flexibility in your day?  If so, you’re not

Dealing with a Bossy Coworker
Dealing with a Bossy Coworker

You might expect the occasional “order” or “command” from your boss. But it’s a whole

Press Release: Be Leaderly Wins Gold & Silver at the 2019 Stevie Awards
Press Release: Be Leaderly Wins Gold & Silver at the 2019 Stevie Awards

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—June 11, 2019—Be Leaderly, a globally recognized provider of women’s leadership development and

15 Questions to Ask Before Taking a Stretch Assignment
15 Questions to Ask Before Taking a Stretch Assignment

Stretch assignments are like the Instant Pot of career development. An intensely challenging, ambitious, go-big-or-go-home

How Can Pay Transparency Make a Difference for Women?
How Can Pay Transparency Make a Difference for Women?

It’s well known that women still deal with a pay gap relative to men. But

Ask Jo: How can I thank my mentor?

Question: I have an incredible mentor. She ...

Teamwork is a Skill. It Takes Practice!

Everyone wants to lead, or be a ...

It’s Worth the Risk (I promise)

This is Sarah. She’s one of my ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a ...

Leaderly Quote: Great Leaders Know When to Step Aside

“Great leaders know when to step aside.” ...

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Copyright 2019, Be Leaderly