by: CARLOS RESTREPO DUMIT
In truth, there are very few people in Colombia as qualified as José Saúl Velásquez Restrepo to write a book like the one he now publishes under the title "Basic Finance - Practical and Simple Approach". Because the author combines an excellent academic training, acquired as a student of Administration and Finance at EAFIT University, where he also received a Master's or Master's degree in his specialty, and as a university professor at the same educational center, first, and later in the Universidad Mayor de Nuestra Señora del Rosario, with extensive experience professional in private business, as financial vice president of Confecciones Colombia S.A. "Everfit" for example, or as manager of the branch of Cacharrería Mundial S.A. in Bogotá, or as general manager - on two occasions - of the Central Distribution Cooperative "Cocentral", a position he currently performs with singular success.
It can be affirmed, therefore, that each one of the chapters of his book, that each one of the valuable teachings that are derived from it, has a solid theoretical foundation that comes from long hours of study, from extensive readings, from frequent consultation specialized works, notes taken and accumulated patiently in the exercise of the chair or in dialogue with colleagues and disciples and, at the same time, feed on the rich experiences collected in the practice of their profession with the force of a spirit like yours, awake, insightful and inquisitive.
It is, therefore, a book that the author has lived intensely before writing it and this is precisely what communicates to him the immense practical sense that is noticed from the beginning of the reading and that runs throughout its pages as a reflection of his personality as a direct, level, hard-working and tenacious man.
"Finanzas Básicas" has above all the merit of being a Colombian work, preferably for Colombian readers, in which the general theory of financial administration, adapted and accommodated to, is transplanted into our environment, after severe scrutiny. Our particular conditions and applied to the problems of an underdeveloped country, with an inflationary economy, an imperfect capital market and a permanent deficit of resources to supply investment demand and with a limited banking system, insufficient for the needs and requirements of the sectors of production, of greater relative development.
A profound connoisseur of the environment of restrictions and peculiarities in which the Colombian business world operates, Saúl Velásquez moves with the naturalness and skill of the Baquiano through his complex subjects, endowed with infinite nuances, to reduce them to elementary concepts, of amazing simplicity, the fruit of the great familiarity with them, and structuring on simple bases the same theory proclaimed by the copious specialized literature that is printed in dense treatises written abroad, but, as said before, admirably acclimatized to our environment and our difficulties. Of course, all the chapters of your book can illustrate this statement, imbued as they are with the same spirit that governs the work, in general. But there are some, however, in which these characteristics shine in a stronger light, such as, for example, those dealing with Cash Management, Working Capital Administration or Balance Analysis, in which the very clear exposition of some general principles, poured into the atmosphere of our businesses, with the extraordinary practical utility of his teachings.
Another aspect that deserves to be highlighted is that "Basic Finance" is not only a work of financial technique, of which it has a lot, obviously, but also, in a high proportion, a financial policy manual. As you continue reading, you have the feeling of being in front of a meticulously elaborated chart. Along the way, red hazard lights come on, signs that warn of road ambushes, warnings that invite you to avoid risks and pitfalls. But, above all, there are recommendations of sound administration, full of wisdom, whose compliance allows you to safely travel the right route and achieve positive and concrete results. The "accounting conservatism" on which the author insists so much; liquidity preference; the retention of profits, particularly in countries like Colombia, of permanent inflation; monitoring the liability and its levels, with a clear awareness of its origin and composition, as well as the cost of money; growth planning; investment decision-making and the supports on which they are based are subjects that are healthily repeated throughout the work and that the author handles with sound criteria, within guidelines of weighting and balance.
If the country had not deviated, as it did, from the strict rules of financial discipline that is so properly exposed in the pages of this book, it is highly probable that the disorder that occurred in the first years of this decade, in In which a multitude of companies were involved and which committed banks and other credit establishments, it would never have appeared, despite the supposedly inevitable external origin that was attributed to it at the time. Proof of this is that some companies and institutions that limited their indebtedness to the rates that theory and prudence advise, aware that money is a scarce resource and, therefore, expensive, that maintained and monitored liquidity; that they did not incur excess inventories; that they were concerned with rapidly rotating working capital, as a defense against inflation; that they rationally planned its development, by using the tools that the finance technique offers; that they did not freeze on investments outside their ordinary course, not only survived the crisis but also maintained a growth rate similar to that of normal times, gave employment, remunerated the different factors of production and generated benefits for the owners of capital and for the State, in the form of taxes.
Not everyone, unfortunately, observed this necessary discipline and today they show - those who did not succumb - the scars that a turbulent and fateful period drew on their skin.
Books such as that of José Saúl Velásquez Restrepo, which now comes to light, carefully read and applied, are an effective preventive against this type of situation, tremendously confusing, that hopefully they will not appear again in Colombia.
Carlos Restrepo Dumit