How Fintech has made its way into MBA programs
FinTech has been around for years but it has been brought into focus in the past decade. Global venture investments in fintech have been accelerating in the past few years. According to a report by KPMG, in Q2 2017, global investment in fintech was worth $8.4 billion across 293 deals.
Numerous startups have emerged in the fintech sector in recent years. The industry saw huge deals being finalized and has generated enormous interest in the finance and banking community. Currently, the buzzwords used in fintech are ‘ blockchain’, ‘robo-advising’, ‘machine learning’, ‘artificial intelligence’.
Fintech has shaken the structure of the financial sector and modified individuals’ perspectives towards personal transactions. Fintech has an extensive scope and covers various areas like payment systems, banking services and digital currencies. Banking and financial firms have realized that blockchain is here to stay and are extremely eager to recruit individuals who understand the technology.
Various companies have launched fintech scholarships, to cash in on the fintech trend. Australian lending firm Spotcap launched a fintech scholarship in Australia for USD 7800 for upcoming fintech aspirants. Paypal together with Singapore Management University plans to start a USD 126,900 scholarship for fintech students.
Most job opportunities are provided by independent fintech startups and growth companies. These startups look to utilize technology to “disrupt” the financial services sector by using e-insurance, mobile payments and online lending.
How Fintech has made its way into MBA programs
MBA graduates are keen to join fintech startups as they get a chance to see close up the various ways to set up and run a fintech company. They feel that working in these firms will give them a chance to be a vital member of the team and that their decisions will count.
Leading B-schools launch fintech programs
Due to the huge demand for fintech programs, leading business schools have started offering or are going to start offering fintech courses. Business schools like Berkeley Hass, NYU Stern, Wharton, Oxford and MIT Sloan have started fintech programs. Almost all these schools have fintech clubs on campus. For example, Hass hosts a crowdfunding symposium annually that helps in teaching students how to be cutting edge thinkers.
The subject of fintech has a wide and flexible curriculum
Fintech courses address a wide range of subjects like transaction security; data management, trading strategies; mobile payments, digital currencies, risk management; big data, financial data analytics, peer-to-peer lending and entrepreneurial crowdfunding. As fintech is a growing industry, it is difficult to prepare a fixed syllabus. Various financial technology experts and specialists are invited to lecture and share their experiences. They help students position themselves with regards to their future careers.
Antoinette Schoar, a professor of finance at MIT Sloan said, “There is no ready-made teaching material that you can put together. You have to try your own curriculum or develop real life cases.” MIT Sloan’s seven-week ‘Fintech Ventures’ course is a collaboration between Sloan, MIT’s department of electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) and Harvard Law School. Schoar added that MIT’s course included students from Harvard Law School so that students can “draw upon the knowledge of law school students who work on financial regulation, because these fintech ideas and changes that are coming up will often have a regulatory angle immediately.”
The fintech curriculum is prepared in such a way that it is beneficial for both people, who want to join startups and students who are interested in working at traditional finance firms. Schools provide a holistic view on fintech in their curriculum.
Students find fintech exciting and stimulating
Adair Morse at Hass School of Business says that the investment, banking, payment and credit industries are transforming due to technology and big data. Students feel that it is a new field that has multiple opportunities and there will be lots of advantages if they can enter the industry at this early stage. Big financial firms are interested in integrating novel technologies.
Ashley Lannquist, co-founder of Berkeley Haas’ FinTech club said, “We’ve got a lot more people than average that are interested in FinTech over traditional finance; they see it as more exciting, fast-moving, and an opportunity to really make an impact in the financial sector. It’s also usually more socially beneficial because you’re building products that can deliver financial services more cheaply, transparently, and directly to the broad population or even the under- or unbanked. It’s also useful in a lot of emerging market countries, and that interests a lot of Haas students.”
The way forward for fintech
Fintech is still nascent when compared to conventional financial products and services. The early signs of optimism and interest from b-schools do validate the widespread interest in the sector. Formal and focused education in Fintech could help startups acquire ready talent, so they can break more barriers and develop more innovative products.