Introduction to Financial Accounting

A young student asked Warren Buffett’s advice on classes to take in school. Warren Buffett’s main advice was to learn Accounting.

“Accounting is the language of business and there’s nothing like getting it early and getting it into your system.” _–Warren Buffett

Intro to Financial Accounting:
The class learning objectives are targeted towards the learning outcome statements of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Level 1 exam (~15-20% of the total content of CFA Level 1 will be covered). While many students might not have interest in the CFA exam, targeting learning outcomes to the financial accounting material in the exam enables the course to stay up to date on the most critical financial accounting material to learn. Moreover organizing the class around the CFA curriculum enables the course to have additional free content online from alternative sources that can provide additional understanding of topics covered.

Text Books:
We use the same text book used for the CFA Program Curriculum book titled CFA Institute Level I Financial Reporting and Analysis. Using this book allows students to save $300+ not having to purchase an alternative much more expensive textbook—you are welcome!

  • Alternative 1 FREE: A digital copy of the book is available through the GWU library. You can find it by going to the GWU Library web page ( search for “International Financial Statement Analysis” and sign in to the library webpage.  There are two books you are looking for:
    1. Robinson, Thomas R., Elaine Henry, and Michael A. Broihahn. International Financial Statement Analysis . Fourth edition. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley, 2020. Print. ISBN : 1-119-62814-8
    2. Robinson, Thomas R., Elaine Henry, and Michael A. Broihahn. International Financial Statement Analysis Workbook . Fourth edition. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley, 2020. Print. ISBN : 1-119-62812-1
  • Alternative 2: Older versions of this book are almost identical and they are likely less expensive. The words in each version of the book don’t change much, just the page numbers. From my observation, books published in 2010 are practically the same as the most current book. The 2009 and prior versions of the book are written in a tortured way that is not as helpful (I don’t recommend it). CFA Institute Level I Financial Reporting and Analysis (Make sure you are purchasing the “Level 1 book” and not the “Level 2” book). Published by Wiley ISBN 10: 1119331064 ISBN 13:   9781119331063. There are a number of places you can find it online:,, or
  • Alternative 3: If you would like to have a slightly more expensive textbook with exactly the same content as that provided by Alternative 1 and Alternative 2 you can order the two books for ~$80 (still considerably less costly than alternative textbooks). If you get this more expensive textbook make sure you also get the Workbook.
  • Alternative 4: The second edition  and third edition of International Financial Statement Analysis (and workbook) from the same authors is also available and it not much different.
  • Alternative 5: The new curriculum can be found at the CFA Institute and is free when you register for the CFA Level 1 exam.

Calculators used must be one of two types: the

  • TI BA II Plus Student or Professional (recommend)
  • HP 12C or 12C Platinum (if you want that old school vibe—I don’t use this type).

YouTube Video Lectures:
Here is the YouTube Channel for the class — Breaking Bad Accounting. Each core concept is covered in a series of short videos on the channel. Watching the videos is not a substitute for reading the book and trying out the problems in the back of the chapter.

  • Welcome to Financial Accounting
  • Financial Statement Analysis: An Introduction
  • Financial Reporting Mechanics
  • Financial Reporting Standards
  • Understanding Income Statements
  • Understanding Balance Sheets
  • Understanding Cash Flow Statements
  • Inventories
  • Long‐Lived Assets
  • Non‐Current (Long‐Term) Liabilities
  • Building Cash Flow Statements
  • Financial Reporting Quality
  • Evaluating Quality of Financial Reports