Banking and Finance Education -- Spoiled for Choice
WHETHER IT'S IN CORPORATE FINANCE, INSURANCE, FINANCIAL PLANNING OR RISK MANAGEMENT, THE INCREASING NEED FOR A TERTIARY EDUCATION IN THE BANKING AND FINANCE INDUSTRY HAS BEEN MATCHED BY AN EXPLOSION OF COURSES CATERING FOR THE SECTOR.
The smorgasbord of courses ranges from short executive programs, sometimes tailored to meet corporate needs, to undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications.
Thirty years ago the number of graduates entering the banking and finance arena was minimal. Today such a qualification is becoming an increasingly important requirement for many careers in the field.
Associate professor Toan Pham, acting head of the University of NSW's school of banking and finance, has a simple explanation. "There are just so many job opportunities in the finance market."
Funds management is an especially sought after option. "A lot of financial institutions are managing billions of dollars on behalf of small investors," he says, "Funds management is a growing field and is very, very popular."
Investment management, financial planning, mergers and acquisitions and venture capital are also among topics nominated as popular course choices by senior managers and academics in the industry.
Another budding area has been demand from graduates of other disciplines to gain a qualification that will help them climb the management ranks.
Professor Ian Zimmer, the University of Queensland's executive dean, faculty of business, economics and law, says student demand is growing in the financial and management disciplines, "because anyone who is a technologist of some sort wants to be a manager.
"There is a demand right across the board," he says. "People with different qualifications all want to converge into the management financial side of things."
Zimmer believes the increasing demand for tertiary qualifications reflects a changing society. "I guess there's a lot more change, a lot more information that people feel they need to survive a more complex world."
It's a radical departure from the days when many employees joined a bank straight from the schoolroom. Indeed, when Ed Bradley began his career in banking in the 1970s, he entered the field without any tertiary qualification. Now director of risk management and compliance at BankWest, he has a series of educational credentials under his belt.
After 10 years with RNI, the forerunner to BankWest, he took three years leave without pay to do a degree in accounting and business law. He wanted to work in corporate banking "and I knew that to do that you need to have a thorough understanding of things like accounting."
He says: "When I came back with my degree, less than half a dozen people in the bank had a degree. That was 1984, so times have changed dramatically," He went on to complete a postgraduate diploma in business (in economics and financial management), as well as an MBA.
Student demand is noted at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels as many professionals return to university part time. Citicorp Investments director and head of product and distribution, Paul Vorbach, is an example of an established banker who's done substantial part time study.
Vorbach entered the finance field 14 years ago, when studying for a bachelor of business degree. He has completed industry courses, holds a master of commerce and an MBA and is finishing the final unit of a diploma of financial planning. It's not always easy to juggle work and study. "But you get into a pattern and you force things to fit," Vorbach says.
He believes tertiary education also demonstrates a breadth of understanding and knowledge which was also useful in dealing with complex issues. "To problem solve ... one might need a broader set of reference points than just the industry specific," he says. …