It’s no secret that millennials aren’t banging down Wall Street doors. Despite signs of renewed interest in investment banking, recent grads, generally speaking, aren’t too interested. Truth is, being an investment banker at Morgan Stanley is not as sexy as a job at Apple or Google. Nor is being a financial advisor at Goldman Sachs as meaningful as heading up the finances for some hot new social venture.
Yet, just last year, Morgan Stanley received 90,000 applications for about 1,000 entry-level summer jobs. With that type of competition, big bank hopefuls should do whatever possible to stand out. London Business School has the program to do just that. LBS has launched a Masters in Financial Analysis degree. The innovative and potentially disruptive program is designed for students with less than a year of work experience and is slated to start its first cohort in September of 2016.
“We went one-by-one to every faculty member in economics, accounting, and finance, and asked them what they thought should be taught in this new program,” says Francesca Cornelli, a finance professor at LBS and the program’s academic advisor. “I said I don’t want to look at what people are teaching now—but to ask what they think is going to be important in finance moving forward. The theme is to study what will be important in the future. We are building on our faculty reputation.”
PROGRAM BASED ON GUIDANCE OF ADEPT FINANCE FACULTY
It seems wise to build on a faculty who already lead what the Financial Times has dubbed the world’s top masters in finance program for the past five years. And it is those professors, the school’s reputation, and its location in one of the largest financial centers in the world that Cornelli and Leila Guerra, executive director of early career programs at LBS, hope will attract members of a generation that grew up watching Wall Street crash and the Occupy Movements that came with it.
The 12-month, full-time program is based in London but students will take five global immersion field trips to Paris, Munich, Mumbai, Shanghai, and Silicon Valley. The curriculum is built upon the “six fundamental pillars” of corporate finance, asset management, accounting, financial markets, financial econometrics, and global markets and world economy. Some courses will be new for the program and others will be established courses in which MFA students will sit side by side with MBA and masters in finance students.
“What we think is this will prepare students to hit the ground running in their first job,” Cornelli says. “It will be aimed at academic excellence but at the same time how to prepare them to arrive on the job ready.”
The three main ways Cornelli and Guerra believe the program will do just that is to offer unique courses, mentorships with MBA students, and professional and personal development with coaches and mentors in LBS’ career center.
“What we have taken in mind is to look at undergrads and recent grads and their profiles and behaviors and pair that alongside what recruiters are looking for,” Guerra says. “They (millennials) have changed needs and have changed what they expect from education and careers. We have listened to what they want to provide hit-the- ground running skills, and fit those to their needs. Have we completely designed the program around millennials? No. But we have listened to what the generational change has brought us.”
According to Cornelli, that means they will be recruiting quants for the program and providing them with more intensive software training as well as taking different aspects of finance out of silos.
“In the core classes, they will be using the same software they would use in their jobs to complete homework,” says Cornelli. “They will learn much more than trig. Because they have already seen basic finance and economics, we will not be repeating that. They know the formulas. We’ll be teaching them what to do when they are missing numbers for the formulas or the formulas don’t work.
“It’s just more broad and the way we feel the world of finance is changing. It’s not just about investment banks, or insurance, or personal finance. Hedge funds are changing the way these institutions operate. So students need to understand opportunities and skills across all of those on a broader spectrum.”
Cornelli cited a new course that will look at combining big data from all aspects of personal finance, and how to look at a large complete picture as an example. They will also be offering courses on topics such as finance ethics, behavioral finance, and corporate responsibility. “We have some courses that we have never taught before and we think that they will be at the forefront of what will be taught in business schools,” says Guerra.
FULFILLING A PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT NEED
The students will will participate in a personal development program that is based on feedback from recruiters in areas they think entry-level employees need extra training.
“We actually talk to many recruiters and have learned those students need to train on things like communication and commitment and being able to manage a very challenging work load,” Guerra says. “The career center will provide career support and professional development, interview training, and skill training. The fact they share electives with the other graduate programs will also provide cross-generational learning and will prepare them for the work environment.”
Both Guerra and Cornelli say they will accept up to 75 students for the first cohort but stressed they are not trying to hit that number—they are going for quality first. Students they expect to be most successful will have strong quant backgrounds and high GMAT scores. The degree is priced at £31,000, or just under $49,000.
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