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“Gain a complete understanding of the principles of corporate finance in just four days!”

“Learn to interpret and analyse financial data and convey credibility!”

The financial training section of the American Management Association (AMA) website is full of exclamatory one-liners.

A particular favorite is: “Don’t let fear of finance set you back!”

This is the catchphrase for the AMA’s largest financial seminar – fundamentals of finance and accounting for non-financial managers.

John Canniffe, the AMA’s finance portfolio manager, says the programme is aimed at managers who have recently been put in charge of a budget.

It consists of a three-day jet-speed tour of the fundamental elements – understanding financial statements and basic accounting rules.

The AMA will also provide tailored versions, condensed to one or two- day sessions, which can be “blended” with one of the association’s seminars focused on more general management skills.

Mr Canniffe feels that the ability to offer breadth of training is one of the factors that distinguishes it from its competitors.

He says the group is “consciously trying to reduce the number of days people are away from their desk”.

He acknowledges financial training is of “utmost importance to management” and the aim of the association is to increase the number of financial seminars on offer but states that the group wants to build up “the online offering”.

In addition to entry-level courses for the financially frightened and high-level workshops, there is also more specialist training on offer – for example, the financial modelling and forecasting workshop.

According to Mr Canniffe this might teach analysts or senior managers to build models and help them decide “where to build the next shop or open the next restaurant”.

In total, the association offers more than 170 professional development courses in subjects from office support to strategic alliance management.

Ed Reilly, president and chief executive, proudly notes that the AMA trained about 70,000 last year – “mostly corporates, some govvies (people working for government bodies) and some non-profit”.

It has training centres in Canada, Mexico and Belgium and also works with a network of global associates and licensees.

The basic delivery model for all AMA training programmes looks similar to that of the business schools.

It offers two broad options: open enrolment to employees from any company – you might be sitting between a peanut buyer and a marketer of post-cremation memorial space shuttle trips – and customised programmes that are tailor-made for employees of one company.

However, unlike a business school, the AMA does not have a roster of faculty it can call on.

Instead the association hires people on a contract basis and are in what Mr Canniffe calls a “constant state of measuring and managing faculty”.

The financial training portion of the total portfolio is not enormous – just 23 of the 170 courses on offer.

But Mr Canniffe says it now has “a material and growing share of general financial training for leaders and managers in a multitude of industries and countries”.

Mr Reilly notes that the association has a high level of contact with financial service professionals through its other management courses.

He is also keen to stress that the ultimate aim of the American Management Association is to be a one-stop shop that can provide depth and breadth of training, whether the student is an analyst, a master baker, or a chief executive.

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