What will the future of finance look like in the new decade?
A question on many aspiring financial professionals’ minds, it is one that leads to a variety of answers.
From the perspective of Marcus Treacher, the Senior Vice President (SVP) of Customer Success at US blockchain startup Ripple Labs Inc, the future of finance will see new consumer purchase solutions emerge for travellers that don’t require cards or card rails.
“For example, imagine if a Japanese tourist visiting Thailand could buy goods using a mobile app or QR code, triggering an immediate cross-border payment from their Japanese yen account to a Thai baht merchant’s account. If more consumer purchase solutions start leveraging blockchain technology in the same way, the payoff will – quite literally – be huge!” he wrote.
And with the speedy rise of tech-based solutions, Treacher also believes that the global economy will see continued growth of micro and wallet payments to support immediate, low-value payment flow.
More innovation can be seen in Asia, where digital-only banks continue to empower the integration of fintech and banking in a fast-paced digital economy.
For all these developments in industry, the educational front of finance is far from keeping up.
In universities, finance courses continue to be dogged by criticism that they are notably lagging behind the relentless pace of technological advancements.
Reports on the application of fintech have reportedly gone “out of date” in as short as 16 months. New financial products and services, from e-wallets to the use of AI by banks as chatbots, are launched every other week.
Yet, in the finance departments in many higher education institutions, many faculty members are bent on teaching a set of timeless theories and failing to deeply engage with the fast-moving practices in industry today.
In the breakneck speed of today’s financial industry, it is more crucial than ever for universities to merge doctrine and practice effectively. More collaboration with practitioners, hiring practice-based faculty, inviting guest speakers frequently and embedding live cases and experiential teaching in curriculums can go a long way to bringing financial education to the 21st century.
These are the five universities which have do so.
USI serves as a professional platform that equips aspiring finance professionals with a solid foundation in financial principles, tools and techniques; positioning them for a rewarding future career in the industry and beyond.
The 18-month/24-month Master’s in Finance – taught entirely in English – teaches students how to analyse financial markets, structure financial products and devise investment opportunities.
Accredited by the Swiss Finance Institute (SFI), and scoring high in the Financial Times’s Master in Finance Rankings 2018, this postgraduate programme is ahead of its time; especially with its recently introduced track in Digital Finance that encourages students to secure new opportunities in fintech.
With its strategic location and strong links with industry, USI students can experience genuine hands-on learning here, with frequent guest lecturers, faculty-led field projects, interactive learning environments and free certification opportunities by industry-lead data providers.
Named after the famous Scottish economist Adam Smith, the University of Glasgow’s Business School aims to follow his legacy by developing enlightened, engaged and enterprising graduates.
And this commitment to student talent development has already scored the school a triple crown of accreditation, from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) and the Association of MBAs (AMBA) for their MBA programme.
For students who are searching for new ways to amplify their finance education, the school has several postgraduate courses that will expand their current expertise.
For example, the Master’s of International Finance (MFin) has an intellectually sophisticated curriculum to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of financial theory and practice, with a distinctive focus on the global marketplace.
The Master’s of Financial Forecasting & Investment (MSc) provides students with an enhanced understanding of the underlying forces which drive financial markets and the relevant analytical tools they need to forecast time series and implement advanced trading strategies.
The George Washington School of Business (GWSB) offers 13 specialised Master’s degrees, five MBA formats and 24 graduate certificates for business and financial professionals looking to advance their knowledge and skills.
And because it’s a school that always puts students’ interests first, the entire planning process of their curricula has drawn input from GWSB’s diverse stakeholder community of students, alumni, faculty and staff.
Innovative curricula such as this may be found in their Master of Science in Finance which is highly competitive to get into and focuses on risk management, financial engineering, banking, corporate finance and portfolio analysis. It qualifies as a STEM programme and combines quantitative and computer skills with financial theory and applications
In addition, the school is implementing brand-new programmes in sought-after subjects like artificial intelligence, cloud applications and information technology, non-profit and government management and corporate responsibility.
Attracting talent from all walks of life, the Peter T Paul College of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) is where finance students flourish.
The College has a track record for producing the financial analysts, hedge fund managers, investment bankers, personal financial advisors, risk managers and more, which have gone on to notable organisations.
Through their MS Finance degree, UNH tackles the critical need for finance professionals educated with the analytical, problem-solving and ethical skills necessary to navigate their fields and lead their organisations. International students will be able to apply for a 24-month OPT STEM Extension to their 12-month Optional Practical Training Program (OPT) – which allows them to work in the US for up to 36 months after graduation with no additional visa requirement – as the programme has a STEM-designated focus on mathematical finance.
At the Singapore Management University (SMU), the Lee Kong Chian School of Business (LKCSB) hosts around 3,000 students and over a hundred full-time faculty members with postgraduate degrees from renowned universities such as Cornell, Harvard, INSEAD, Oxford, Stanford and Yale.
Holding the secrets to surviving the competitive financial sector, SMU’s Master of Finance programme encourages students to invest in themselves and forward-thinking education.
With core and elective finance modules that cater to the fast-changing financial sector and the increasing need for financial professionals, each module of this programme provides applicants with an opportunity to broaden their mindset.
“We are entering a new paradigm or evolution in the banking/investment industry. Yes, it is going to be tough but those who excel and are willing to take risks will be rewarded. The best investment you can make now is investing in yourself and there is no better return on investment than SMU’s MAF programme,” says SMU alumnus Toto Tanuwidjaja.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International