course
Corporate Finance

May 2014

Overall, I enjoyed this class and learned a decent amount. The only issue I had with Prof. Dang is that he's pretty quiet/softspoken, so if you don't sit in the front you can't really hear him all that well, and he also doesn't tell people in class who are being rude and talking to stfu. Dang is a really nice prof and a pretty funny guy, would agree with below reviewer on his personality. He obviously cares about the students (he is super nice, super helpful, always willing to answer questions) but he doesn't take the class too seriously, in my opinion... his jokes are funny. Because of his softspoken personality lectures can get kind of boring, unless you are super into the material. The second half of the course is less theoretical than the first, and we actually look at cases, so the class gets more interesting as the semester goes on. The first half of the course is a LOT more theoretical and some of the stuff could get complicated and I didn't really get everything, but everything you need to know for exams is in the homework, and once you figure out how to do the problem you're fine. TAs also were very helpful. The BEST part about this class, in my opinion, is that it's such a laidback class. If you pay attention you will learn a lot about the topic... if you need a more low-key class though you don't really have to go to lecture b/c everything you need to know is in the slides. There are five problem sets, three pre-midterm, two post-midterm, doing them is really important because the exams are basically exactly like the problem sets. Gonna echo the last reviewer and say at least 80% of the exams are the exact same type of problems as in the homeworks, and he gives practice exams as well. Final is non-cumulative, on the last day of class. Both exams are completely open-book and open-note. This is a fairly easy and straightforward class... the material can get difficult and complex, but it's easy to do well as long as you do the work before exam day.

May 2013

Roger Mesznik is definitely a brilliant man. He fills the class with random tidbits of information and sometimes goes on tangents telling stories from his experience. Because of this, class is always very interesting. That being said, what is taught in class rarely relates to the homework. The textbook and the internet is a huge help on homework. Also, a warning: Roger can be fairly intimidating in class. He calls on people at random, will yell at you if you are on your phone. He is genuinely a nice guy though and as long as you pay attention, you'll be fine. Attendance is taken every class, not sure how it affects your grade though. Homework consists of two parts: assignments and cases, all of which require the use of Excel. He does go over a lot of the Excel in class. You are allowed to form homework groups and only have to turn in one copy. For each homework, a group is assigned to present to the entire class. The assignments are fairly straight forward, just a couple of problems. The cases are all taken from the Harvard Business School. He requires that you all buy the case pack at the beginning. Do not have everyone buy it. It's like $90 just for access to a PDF. It would be better to just split the cost of one account. There is no point in having everyone buy it. For the cases, Roger gives you almost zero guidance. it is hard to figure out exactly what he is looking for. Expect to spend a LOT of time on each case. Word of advice: google the case to look for guidance. These are pretty famous cases so there is a lot of help on google. The homeworks are all seemingly graded randomly, seemed to have little affect on the final grade (all around the avg). For the midterm and final, it is open book and you have to bring your laptop as the use of Excel is required. The format is around 6 questions, each with multiple parts. Roger gave us a list of review problems before each exam. If you are comfortable doing these problems, you will be fine on the exams. Overall, I would recommend this class. Roger makes the class interesting and I felt like I actually learned a lot from doing the cases. Just be prepared to spend a long time each week on the homework. I disagree with the previous review about the average being a C. He specifically stated in our class that if you do better on the final than the midterm, he won't count the midterm. If you pay attention and know your stuff, this isn't a hard class to do well in.

May 2013

Mesznik by all accounts and appearances is a smart fellow. But he is lazy and doesn't give a concerted effort to teach the class. He's interesting, tells a good joke, and certainly knows a lot. But I can count on one hand how many lectures he spent teaching. The majority of the classes you can expect to be presenting your assigned cases to the class, and whether or not you are correct he doesn't care. He'll just tell you that it's ok to make mistakes. If you're like me, you'll be dreadfully bored to death. If you have no background in accounting, I'd advise you to take that before signing up for his class or take another section. He assumes everyone is born with understanding of accounting concepts. The cases are a drag. You and every other group will be aimlessly wading through the desert with no clue which direction is correct. In the end, you'll just pick a direction and hope you'll find water. The TA was similarly clueless, and will give you 12-14 out of 15 as long as you made it seem like you knew what you were talking about. Expect long nights and much frustration in the cases. On the bright side, literally nothing in the cases will show up on the exams. Exams are open book open notes. You can use your laptop. It won't help. Standard problem is something of the sort: find the NPV given the following information. You'll do out all your work on excel, but he wants the answer in the blue book and he only grades the blue book. Cross your fingers you don't make a mistake. That said, the exams aren't difficult. But they rely heavily on accounting nuances (e.g. book value vs. market value, COGS, etc.) Just for reference, I walked out of the class with an A. I did well on the midterm and final, and that's not a testament to his teaching or my learning abilities (as far as Ivy League students go, I'm pretty stupid). It is however a testament to just how useless this class is. If you have a solid groundwork in other financial classes (e.g. you understood Financial Economics and Accounting pretty well), then you can not show up for a single class and walk away with an A like me. But of course...attendance is mandatory for Mesznik. Also, Mesznik does NOT curve well. Mean/median on the midterm was a ~68 and he said add 7 for the curve.

Oct 2012

Worst professor ever in Columbia. He spends the first 6 lectures talking about the rules of the course and the class itself is not prepared at all. He is grumpy and likes to pick on Caucasian students. TA or CA never took the class before. In short, don't take it ! Waste of money and time. Do the mba one instead. other reviews: BORING! He doesn't teach much at all. Just solves problems from the book. waste of time. very boring going through chapter question everyday, just copy and copy. does not teach much. but if you read the book, follow the step just once. You dont even need to know all those intermediate and challenge question that he gives you. because you are not allowed to use financial calculator. Exams are crazy easy. But final is MC and diffcult. A- This professor can't teach. He comes to class, solves problems on board without writing the formula and gives a lot of hw. Also, he doesn't respect students' contribution but insults them like anything and loves to give "0" on HW even if there is any silly mistake. No review and no curves. Take him at your risk. BTW people love to drop his class.

Nov 2011

The review below is completely unfair. Tri Vi is generally very good, very clear, and very straight forward. It is true that he teaches a 'liberal arts' version of corporate finance. He is more concerned with the theory of corporate finance, and his grading reflects this emphasis on approach, not execution. It is also true that his lectures can seem boring. However, this is a by-product of highly structured and well-organized slides. Missing class is not a problem. And I suspect that most students in the class are happy enough taking a class in which finance is the focus. His assignments (of which there are only 5 or 6) can sometimes seem challenging, but working through them pays real dividends come exam time. And the exams are at least 80% homework problems. Despite the opinion of the reviewer below, I found the exam questions to be absolutely explicit, especially if you've done the homework. Tri Vi has a slight accent, but it is not debilitating. He obviously knows his stuff, and he's a super friendly guy. He's also refreshingly incisive and to-the-point when it comes to describing investment banking, private equity, and taxes. This makes class kind of funny.

May 2011

This was one of my favorite classes this year; Professor Ravina came to class prepared with a length slideshow (also available online) that fully and in great detail explained parts of how to value companies. She is a very sweet person and her lectures amply display her knowledge and willingness to teach her students. She makes learning valuation pretty interesting and I looked forward to her class every Monday and Wednesday even though it was at an odd time slot. If you want to go into investment banking, definitely take this class with Professor Ravina; I had heard horror stories about other teachers who were dry and unhelpful, but Professor Ravina is very approachable and it excites her to see energetic students who wish to learn the material. The course itself is sort of limited in its scope in that it only teaches how to value companies, so it is only practical for investment banking.

Apr 2011

This class is a must for anyone interested in banking. It is extremely practical and by the end of the semester you feel you actually learned something which can be applied right away. The class is filled with people who have done internships, or who will do so, so expect a rather competitive environment. Ravina's presentations of financial concepts was extremely clear, witty and she managed to make even the driest subjects interesting. The use of cases makes the learning process very interactive. The professor is lively, her Italian accent is charming and she responds to emails promptly. I definitely recommend this class! Although Financial Accounting is not an official requirement for this class, it will be very useful to take it before Corporate Finance. Although an accounting tutorial is given, it is way too weak to cover all the accounting knowledge necessary here. Plus, if you are interested in banking you should take accounting anyway.

Dec 2010

He was horrible. His lectures were boring and unorganized, and you cant even understand what he says half the time. Literally 10 people would show up for lectures out of a 70 person class. His teaching is highly theoretical and has absolutely no real world application. Instead of teaching us the concepts behind corporate valuation, he gave us matrix problems about no-arbitrage. The wording on the problem sets and exams is like a child wrote them--you have no idea what he is looking for. He requires you to buy a textbook that is not even remotely useful--not that the book is bad, but he just makes everything up as he goes along. His problem sets--of which there were only 5 for the semester--were full of material that was not in his class notes (which he posts on courseworks...often late), or in the book. If it hadn't of been for the TA, there would be no way to solve half of the problems in the homeworks. I did not learn a thing from this guy, which really is a shame as I was looking forward to this class. Avoid this guy like the clap, he will ruin your semester--and I got an A in the class...