Magazine article Journal of Banking and Financial Services

Financial Education: Focusing on Both the Demand and Supply Sides: Both Employers and Banking and Finance Students Are Increasingly Seeking Focused Shorter Courses in Niche Areas That Are Closely Targeted towards Their Vocational Needs. Higher Education Providers Are Responding Accordingly

Magazine article Journal of Banking and Financial Services

Financial Education: Focusing on Both the Demand and Supply Sides: Both Employers and Banking and Finance Students Are Increasingly Seeking Focused Shorter Courses in Niche Areas That Are Closely Targeted towards Their Vocational Needs. Higher Education Providers Are Responding Accordingly

Article excerpt

A new pragmatism among finance students

Banking and finance students are becoming very pragmatic about their approach to learning and this is being reflected in the sorts of courses they are enrolling in at the moment. They seem well aware of developments in the financial services sector and the markets, and are choosing their courses and training programs accordingly. In addition, they have a well-developed sense of the kinds of skills that are required in the workforce of the 21st century.

At the Applied Finance Centre we have noticed growing enrolments in courses that improve not only students' technical and quantitative skills but also in those that develop more qualitative skills, such as negotiation skills. More students are recognising that learning how to 'crunch the numbers' is only one part of the job. In addition, they will be expected to develop the skills to know how to utilise the results of this number crunching, and communicate effectively and persuasively--often to a non-technical audience.

Other areas in which we have noticed significant demand growth in recent years are private equity and venture capital. Unlike the United States, these are relatively new fields within Australia and we have experienced skill shortages as a result. A number of large institutional investors, such as superannuation funds, are looking to allocate a significant proportion of their funds under management to these sectors and investment management firms are also keen to build their expertise in this area. The result has been a sharp increase in demand for training in the intricacies of private equity investing, from the perspective of both a venture capitalist looking to raise funding and of a fund manager, looking to invest in the sector.

Meeting corporate demand

Overall, my sense is that Australia's higher education providers are delivering the sorts of courses and graduates that meet the needs of large corporate employers in the financial services sector and that our graduates compare very favourably with their counterparts from overseas. This is reflected in the large numbers of our graduates who ultimately work offshore in other major financial centres. In addition, we have many international students who travel from overseas to study in our program and we enrol significant numbers of students in offshore locations such as Tokyo and Singapore, where students have the alternative of enrolling with local providers, but have nevertheless chosen our program.

The feedback we get from the large businesses and financial institutions with whom we are dealing, on a regular basis, is that they are very pleased generally with the quality of graduates in finance-related courses. The strong demand for places in our programs is a good indication of employer-driven demand for our graduates. The resilience of the Australian economy relative to much of the rest of the world has also been a major factor in this, as the consequent growth of the financial services sector has seen strong employment growth and rapid career progression for those prepared to invest in their own 'human capital' via post-graduate education. We are also conscious of the need to continually update our course offerings, and, for example, will be launching a new course in 2005 in the area of Managing Operational Risk We expect a high level of demand for this.

In addition, to help meet the information needs of the finance sector, the Applied Finance Centre ensures that university information services are available to finance communities in the key Asia Pacific finance centres and our staff respond to requests for education and consulting services on a regular basis. We also encourage the use of our Applied Finance Centre by the finance community, including for monthly meetings of finance professionals on topics of interest and for occasional short courses.

Shorter courses in niche areas, rather than the strong focus on MBA-type courses

For highly technical roles, financial institutions tend to prefer specialists who have a detailed understanding of the particular area in which they will be working, rather than generalists with only an overview level of knowledge of a particular area. …

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