I recently had lunch with a group of fellow adjunct graduate-level real estate faculty all senior to me, and the subject of financial calculator proficiency arose. There was a spirited consensus among them (all of whom are now and have been real estate practitioners) that proficiency is no less critical today for students graduating from real estate degree programs than it was 25 years ago, even though Excel is now beyond ubiquitous in the workplace. I agreed wholeheartedly. Excel is just a more modern tool that executes the mathematical functions that the financial calculator (predominantly the HP12C) performed in replacement of long-hand math.
While it is true that spreadsheets that support financial functions are now available to everyone, even for free via Google Docs and the like, if you do not understand what is going on in the spreadsheet, you’re going to be dangerous at best in the work you produce that includes financial functions.
Being proficient with a financial calculator displays a more granular understanding of the mathematical functions that are occurring, and requires you to instruct the calculator what to do in a deliberate manner. Naturally, this all stems from having an understanding of the long-hand math behind the computations that the calculator performs.
Accordingly, there is no substitute for being able to compound or discount a cash flow and do a Net Present Value calculation by hand, which shows the highest level of understanding of the mechanics of these financial functions.
What do you think? Has the relevance of financial calculator skills passed? Why?
Have you ever been in an interview and been asked to perform skills on a 12C right in front of the interviewer?