I am not very good at Corporate Finance

I thought I’d enjoy Corporate Finance, and I do, but over the last eight weeks I’ve realised I’m just no good at it. Equations, breaking problems into parts, looking at the big picture, and taking views on things: these are all the things I’m good at. (“One of the world’s top copywriters”, remember?) But somehow I just haven’t gripped this subject. I don’t feel the relationship between Rd and Re in my bones; don’t have an instinct for what beta does, can’t remember the Capital Asset Pricing Model offhand. This’ll all change in the next two weeks – it HAS to with an exam coming up – but right now, everything’s nowhere near as solid as it should be.

Which means the presentation today is going to go REALLY well. A class audience including two lecturers (the aforementioned Teutonic and Italianate ones) after a week of 4am mornings. An audience who, like me, have spent a lot of hours recently trying to understand the case study and are itching to ask questions on where we went wrong.

The principle of such things is: DON’T just ‘take them through the information’ – take the information THROUGH THEM!!!

I run through the numbers, about HALF of which my addled brain gets fully. Assumptions, views-taken, and arbitrary rationalisations are the order of the day. Then the questions start. Here’s how I’d LIKE the question session to go:

“Why is the risk-free rate 8.95%?”

“LOOK – it just fucking IS, alright?! So sue me!”

“Why did you choose Quinta as the base for working out divisional WACC?”

“That’s a very, very good question. Let me answer it with a question of my own.”

And so on. We handle the actual questions as a team, and it all goes fine, but I’m concerned at just how few of the calculations I have committed to memory despite spending seven hours on this (and that’s just me; probably 30 hours all-in from the team.)

But as this second MBA term draws towards its close, that’s another hurdle leaped. Even if I’ll never be able to use the word ‘hurdle’ again without linking it with ‘rate’.

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