According to U.S. News & World Report, a career as a financial manager is the third hottest job for a graduating MBA student in 2017, while a career in accounting ranks number one. Indeed, finance careers pay well, offer robust job growth, low unemployment rates and the opportunity for MBAs to use both their quantitative and creative skills.
According to Shawnice Meador, Executive Director of MBA Career and Leadership at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flager Business School, who spoke to U.S. News, “These sorts of roles are really critical for a company since they’re trying to make sure that they’re making strategic financial decisions.”
With respect to preparing students for careers in finance, the University of Cambridge Judge Business School takes a multifaceted approach.
Finance Preparation and the Cambridge MBA
One element of the Cambridge approach is to offer a finance concentration, which is a collection of courses and projects related to the finance field. Within this concentration, Cambridge MBAs also interact with specialist coaches with expertise in finance and attend sessions with external speakers who are leaders in the finance field.
The concentration is also heavily focused on innovation in financial markets, covering everything from understanding the latest trends in finance to examining the newest technological advances, especially FinTech. And Cambridge doesn’t solely look at opportunities for financial careers in developed markets. The programs also emphasizes the burgeoning finance market in developing countries and the role that an MBA could play in catering to these “under-banked” segments of the world.
A Closer Look at FinTech
“FinTech stands for Financial Technologies, and in its broadest definition, that’s exactly what it is: technologies used and applied in the financial services sector, chiefly by financial institutions themselves on the back end of their businesses,” Bernard Marr, the author of Big Data in Practice, explained in a Forbes article. “But more and more, FinTech is coming to represent technologies that are disrupting traditional financial services, including mobile payments, money transfers, loans, fundraising and asset management.”
These financial technologies are changing the face of the financial services industries with more secure banking and a plethora of entrepreneurial opportunities. And these opportunities and trends are opening up a world of possibilities to MBA students.
Dr. Pedro Staffi leads the finance concentration for MBAs and is also a university lecturer. For Staffi, there are four FinTech trends that are important for MBAs to attend to: passive asset management, peer-to-peer lending, blockchain technology and financial services in developing countries.
“The traditional model of active investment where customers pay big fees for fund managers to try to beat the markets is changing rapidly as passive investing takes over, offering much smaller fees across all asset classes,” Staffi explained in a recent Judge blog post. “This requires a completely different mind and skill set for future fund managers, so MBAs need to be aware of this and prepare for this new world of asset management, as active managers face increasing demands from clients to deliver performance.”
“Similarly, blockchain technology (which encompass technologies that can speed up financial transactions) is offering an incredibly fertile space for entrepreneurial start-ups. Much of what banks offer today will be disrupted by blockchain in the near future, so it’s a great space for the savvy MBA to explore opportunities to offer something new and niche to the market.”
Staffi went on to discuss small businesses in emerging economies that don’t have access to bank accounts but do have access to a mobile device and how this is “fertile territory for the entrepreneur” to offer financial services that could help people.
Career Advice for Cambridge Judge Finance MBA Grads
So, how does this all relate to Cambridge Judge MBAs gaining employment in the financial industry? It’s about taking advantage of the opportunities offered by Cambridge and following some solid advice from industry experts.
Gonçalo de Vasconcelos, Co-Founder and CEO of the online equity investing platform SyndicateRoom and a Cambrdige MBA alum said, “My number one piece of advice would be to network during your MBA year. It’s still a small world in FinTech, so if you attend every networking event you can in both London and Cambridge, you will have met everyone who matters by the end of your MBA.”
Vasconcelos also encouraged MBA students to think outside the box and not just assume that banking is the only way to achieve success in finance. The financial services sector is on the lookout for new ideas from different backgrounds to bring new life to the space.
Louise Westerland, the Co-Founder of Fongogo and fellow Cambridge Judge MBA alum, also spoke about the many new opportunities emerging in FinTech.
“FinTech is now a broad field and some banks are buying FinTech startups and engaging in coopetition (cooperation between competing companies) with TransferWise, Trustly and other FinTech payment companies,” he said. “It’s no longer a David and Goliath race between banks and FinTech companies, but includes tech giants like Amazon and PayPal who are leveraging their data to invade the banks’ space. Facebook is also moving into the space (having now received an e-money license in Ireland) and could eventually be offering peer-to-peer payments through Facebook Messenger.”
For Judge MBA students, the finance concentration is an opportunity to delve deeply into the emerging FinTech market and the various possibilities found there.
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