Business Books CFOs Are Reading This Summer

12 accounting and finance business books to edge up your game over the summer

No matter how much accounting or finance field experience you may have, there is always something new to learn about the ever-changing business world.

There are many secrets to success. One of the secrets influential leaders such as Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Richard Branson have been quoted to agree upon is reading. “ In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time—none,” Charlie Munger, the vice chairman at Berkshire Hathaway once said.

With Summer Solstice right around the corner, and vacay time hopefully scheduled, there’s no better time to hit bookstores and gear up on business books any ambitious and curious finance professional should read to perfect his A-game and boast his career.

Let’s do a cost-to-benefit analysis of catching up on business reads while sipping lemonade in the shade, shall we? The cost is alone time enjoying the summer breeze. The end game is a broader perspective, a richer appreciation and more self-confident decision-making abilities. You do the math…

Still skeptical? Thinking you’re simply too busy to be doing something as simple and straightforward as reading is to build your brainpower? A compelling article by Charles Chu of Better Humans’ Website may convince you that time spent reading is time well-spent…especially over the summer break! He’s done the math, it’s on his side.

Written by investors, CFOs, managers and business leaders such as George Solos and Steven M. Bragg, here are 12 must-read business books that offer insightful accounting and finance tips, do’s and don’ts based on keen experiences and revealing observations.

1. Mission in a Bottle: The Honest Guide to Doing Business Differently and Succeeding, by Seth Goldman, Barry Nalebuff. Illustrations by Sungyoon Choi











Amazon Synopsis: Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff began Honest Tea fifteen years ago with little more than a tea leaf of an idea and a passion to offer organic, freshly brewed, lightly sweetened bottled tea. Today Honest Tea is a rapidly expanding national brand sold in more than 100,0000 grocery stores, restaurants, convenience stores and drugstores across the country. The brand has flourished as American consumers move toward healthier and greener lifestyles.

In an incredibly fun and accessible two-color graphic-book format, the cofounders of Honest Tea tell the engaging story of how they created and built a mission-driven business, offering a wealth of insights and advice to entrepreneurs, would-be entrepreneurs, and millions of Honest Tea drinkers about the challenges and hurdles of creating a successful business–and the importance of perseverance and creative problem-solving.

2 . Financial Shenanigans, Fourth Edition: How to Detect Accounting Gimmicks and Fraud in Financial Reports, by Howard Schilit











Amazon Synopsis: Discover the bestselling classic from the Sherlock Holmes of Accounting. Updated to reflect the key case studies and most important lessons from the past quarter century. This fourth edition of the classic guide shines a light on the most shocking frauds and financial reporting offenders of the last twenty-five years, and gives investors the tools they need to detect: Corporate cultures that incentivize dishonest practices, the latest tricks companies use to exaggerate revenue and earnings, techniques devised by management to manipulate cash flow as easily as earnings, companies that use misleading metrics to fool investors about their financial performance and ways companies use acquisitions to hide deterioration in their underlying business.

This new edition focuses on the key case studies and most important lessons from the past quarter-century and brings you up to date on accounting chicanery in the global markets. Howard Schilit and his team of renowned forensic accounting experts expose financial reporting miscreants and unveil the latest methods companies use to mislead investors. You will learn everything you need to know to unearth deceptive reporting and avoid costly mistakes.

3. Future Ready: A Manager’s Guide to Time Travel: How to Master the Craft of Business Forecasting, by Steven Morlidge and Steve Player











Amazon Synopsis: Crisis in the financial markets has exposed serious flaws in management methods. The failure to anticipate and deal with the consequences of the unfolding collapse has starkly illustrated what many leaders and managers in business have known for years; in most organizations, the process of forecasting is badly broken. For that reason, forecasting business performance tops the list of concerns for CFO’s across the globe. It is time to rethink the way businesses organize and run forecasting processes and how they use the insights that they provide to navigate through these turbulent times. This book synthesizes and structures findings from a range of disciplines and over 60 years of the authors combined practical experience. This is presented in the form of a set of simple strategies that any organization can use to master the process of forecasting. The key message of this book is that while no mortal can predict the future, you can take the steps to be ready for it. ’Good enough’ forecasts, wise preparation and the capability to take timely action, will help your organization to create its own future.

Future Ready is an invaluable guide for practicing managers and a source of insight and inspiration to leaders looking for better ways of doing things and to students of the science and craft of management.

4. Dr. Strangelove’s Game: A Brief History of Economic Genius, by Paul Strathern











Amazon Synopsis: With the infectious enthusiasm of a great teacher and a novelist’s eye for a colourful parade of often bizarre and idiosyncratic figures, Paul Strathern gives us a vivid account of the world of economics through the lives and minds of those who contributed to the growth of economic thought from the Middle Ages to the present.

The familiar and iconic names — Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes – turn out to be fascinating characters, as does a host of lesser-known figures — from Luca Pacioli, a medieval monk who used a ball game to stimulate thought about probability theory (and gambling) to John von Neumann, the manic genius who invented game theory, worked on the atomic bomb, and was probably the model for Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. There are pessimistic priests, visionary socialists, crackpot academics, and an alleged murderer who controlled France’s finances. Paul Strathern sets their lives and thoughts against the dramatic backdrop of great events–the South Sea Bubble, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution and the Great Crash.

Brilliantly entertaining, Dr. Strangelove’s Game will do for economics what Sophie’s World did for philosophy and E=mc2 for physics.

5. The Alchemy of Finance, by George Solos










Amazon Synopsis: Filled with expert advice and valuable business lessons, The Alchemy of Finance reveals the timeless principles of an investing legend. George Soros is unquestionably one of the most powerful and profitable investors in the world today. Dubbed by BusinessWeek as “the Man who Moves Markets,” Soros made a fortune competing with the British pound and remains active today in the global financial community. Now, in this special edition of the classic investment book, The Alchemy of Finance, Soros presents a theoretical and practical account of current financial trends and a new paradigm by which to understand the financial market today.

This edition’s expanded and revised introduction details Soros’s innovative investment practices along with his views of the world and world order. He also describes a new paradigm for the “theory of reflexivity” which underlies his unique investment strategies.

6. Reinventing the CFO: How Financial Managers Can Transform Their Roles and Add Great Value, by Jeremy Hope











Amazon Synopsis: On the heels of a decade of scandals and the new pressures brought on by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, corporations expect far more from their CFOs than simply managing the numbers. They expect decision-making support and performance insights that can improve bottom-line results. Unfortunately, the complexity and detail inherent in CFOs’ jobs keep them shackled to budgeting and transaction-processing systems that leave little time for value-adding activities.

Jeremy Hope says it’s time to redefine the role of CFOs in today’s organizations, liberating them from ineffective number-crunching responsibilities and enabling them to focus on helping managers improve performance. Grounded in extensive research, Reinventing the CFO outlines seven critical roles—from streamlining redundant processes to regulating risk to identifying a few key measures—that CFOs must take on in order to successfully transform the finance operation.

Challenging many of the finance field’s accepted practices and systems, this bold book revolutionizes the role of financial managers and frees them to make smart, ethical, strategic decisions that add real value to the firm.

7. Guide to CFO Success: Leadership Strategies for Corporate Financial Professionals, by Samuel Dergel











Amazon Synopsis: Having the right CFO is a critical component for every company’s success. Guide to CFO Success provides CFOs and those in the making with a strategic blueprint to benefit their companies and their careers. This book reveals how to build a strong, successful career plan with guidance on team building and management of the multiple relationships that CFOs face on a daily basis, plus how to balance one’s work and personal life.

It offers strategic guidance for leadership growth for CFOs, presents essential information for every CFO who wants to play a tactical role in their organization, includes best practices for building and developing the most effective Finance Team and features practical career advice for future Chief Financial Officers.

From balancing one’s work and personal life to dealing with the CEO, Guide to CFO Success has the answers you need to plan for a strong and successful career.

8. The Lean CFO: Architect of the Lean Management System, by Nicholas S. Katko










Amazon Synopsis: Explaining why the CFO role is so critical for companies adopting a Lean business strategy, The Lean CFO: Architect of the Lean Management System illustrates the process of building and integrating a Lean management system into the overall Lean business strategy. It describes why CFOs should move their companies away from performance measures based on traditional manufacturing practices and into a Lean performance measurement system. In addition, it explains how to integrate a Lean management system with a Lean business strategy to drive financial success. This book is not about debits, credits, or accounting theory. Instead, it describes how a chief financial officer (CFO) becomes a Lean CFO by leading a company in developing and deploying a Lean management system.

The finance team, business executives, and Lean leaders will all benefit from its forward-thinking improvement approach.

9. CFO Guidebook: Third Edition, by Steven M. Bragg











Amazon Synopsis: The CFO manages the financial structure and oversees the financial performance of an organization, so this is a critical and demanding management position. The CFO Guidebook provides the CFO with detailed advice regarding how to be most effective in every aspect of the job. The book covers all parts of the CFO’s traditional finance role, including budgeting, fundraising, investments, going public, investor relations and share management. It goes on to address more recent additions to the job, such as strategic planning, risk management, the control environment, and information technology.

Given its comprehensive coverage of the CFO position, The CFO Guidebook can serve as a reference manual for anyone wanting to become more effective in the position.

10. The New CFO Financial Leadership Manual – Third Edition, by Steven M. Bragg











Amazon Synopsis: The comprehensive guide for CFOs who need an overview of leadership basics from strategies to management improvement tips. Filled with pragmatic insights and proactive strategies, The New CFO Financial Leadership Manual (3rd edition), is destined to become your essential desktop companion. This thorough guidebook is filled with best practices to help you, as CFO, to improve efficiency, mitigate risks, and keep your organization competitive.

It includes updated information on the relationship of the CFO with the Treasurer, registration statements and Fedwire payments, acquisition integration, legal types of acquisitions, and government regulations, contains control flowcharts for the main accounting cycles, provides new chapters on Investor Relations and Risk Management for Foreign Exchange and Interest Rates and features an itemized list of the key tasks every new CFO should complete when first entering the position, a checklist of 100 performance measures, and a detailed discussion of employee compensation plans.

The reference CFOs and other financial managers can turn to for quick answers to questions they have as well as to help them plan their financial strategy, The New CFO Financial Leadership Manual (3rd edition), is mandatory reading for every CFO wanting to play a strategic role in their organization.

11. The Essential CFO: A Corporate Finance Playbook, by Bruce P. Nolop











Amazon Synopsis: Discover the power of the CFO’s role in delivering shareholder value. During the past decade, the CFO role has expanded dramatically in its breadth, complexity, and criticality. Filled with proven strategies, best practices, and keen insights, The Essential CFO describes how today’s CFOs are responding to their expanded roles within both public and private companies. With straightforward and pragmatic guidance, author Bruce Nolop shows how CFOs are partnering with CEOs to deliver shareholder value by articulating a strategic plan, determining capital allocations, managing the capital structure, driving financial performance, and implementing strategic transactions.

It covers how CFOs are establishing robust accounting and risk management processes and effectively communicating with both external and internal constituencies, looks at the role of the CFO in transforming financial organizations to drive effectiveness and efficiency and examines how CFOs can develop talent with the experience, expertise, and leadership skills to meet the challenges of the future.

Written from a balanced, top-down perspective of the modern CFO, The Essential CFO provides you with practical prescriptions for executing impactful corporate finance strategies.

12. The Economist: The Chief Financial Officer: What CFOs do, the influence they have, and why it matters, by Jason Karaian











Amazon Synopsis: This book explains how CFOs earned their privileged position, and what the future may hold for them. It describes their ever-expanding role, and how they are transforming their departments to help them deal with it. With insights from current and former CFOs, it benefits from a first-hand perspective on finance leaders’ aspirations and doubts. It is a useful reference for finance chiefs to learn from peers and benchmark their own performance; those looking to build a career in corporate finance; managers seeking to improve their relationship with the finance department; and service providers—banks, accountancies and consulting firms—and anyone who wants to get on the good side of the keeper of the corporate chequebook.

From back-office accountant to front-line executive, the rapid rise of the chief financial officer is unrivalled by any other corporate role. With access to every facet of the business, CFOs now wield a level of influence matched only by chief executives.

Thirsty for More Business Books to Read?

Looking to sharpen your knowledge of broader subject matters relating to business, investment, technology, personal growth or leadership? Check out “10 books that will get you ahead at work” and “10 books to boost your career and leadership skills” and prepare yourself to become a better leader, thinker and doer.

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