Case study: LSBF

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Although the London School of Business and Finance is very much the new kid on the block, having been established a mere seven years ago, it has a broad portfolio of programmes.

The school offers graduate degrees in the form of MBAs, MScs in finance and marketing and a masters in international business, as well as a range of professional courses and executive training with a strong financial underpinning.

To date, more than 10,000 students have passed through its doors.

The school’s confidence in offering such a broad range of programmes comes from its thriving partnership with both professional bodies and the Grenoble Graduate School of Business (GGSB) in France.

The Grenoble school offers courses at LSBF’s Marble Arch site, a stone’s throw from London’s West End. The school works very closely with GGSB, using many of the same faculty, says Roy Butcher, dean of LSBF.

As well as its GGSB partnership, LSBF also collaborates with the University of Wales, which validates LSBF’s own range of post-graduate degrees – an MBA, an MSc in finance and an MSc in marketing.

LSBF would like to move towards its own degree awarding powers – possibly within three to four years, says Mr Butcher. “We have the capability but in the shorter term our main focus is in consolidating quality and delivery of the products we have.”

Complementing the school’s post graduate degree programmes are a series of professional finance, accountancy and marketing courses which lead to professional qualifications including ACCA, IMC and CIM.

And as if this were not enough the school also offers executive education – both customised and open enrolment – to more than 70 corporate clients.

Programmes are delivered in London – at Marble Arch, Holborn and a recently acquired site in Chancery Lane – Manchester and Birmingham in the UK. Other sites are planned for Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America.

Mr Butcher accepts that the school is ambitious, and is confident of success: “We are very, very responsive and if we want to do something new, we do it, providing, of course, that it is supported by the relevant market evidence.”

He points out that education nowadays needs to be seen to be immediately relevant to the workplace, and a school needs to be able to change its material very quickly, citing the recent global economic crisis.

The school, he adds, has kept its focus on professional training and all the faculty are members of the various professional bodies and consequently have a close relationship with them.

And such ties, as well as faculty’s industry and corporate experience, translate well both in the classroom and when attracting corporate clients.

“Corporate clients like us, because we can make a quick decision,” he says. “Speed is important if you are going to form an alliance and we are seen as dynamic.”

The recession has helped LSBF, says Aaron Etingen, chief executive officer. Corporate clients are looking for more innovative ways of delivering education and are also eager to cut costs. As a consequence, online learning is increasingly popular. The school has invested more than £7m ($10.4m) in cutting-edge technology, allowing students to study online across the range of programmes.

Many of LSBF’s students are company-sponsored and such delivery methods have obvious benefits for a company’s bottom line: “We have no incentive to go back to the old ways,” says Mr Etingen.

With expansion very much on the agenda, Mr Etingen says the school’s greatest difficulty now lies in attracting high quality faculty. LSBF needs to develop a strategy for research, says Mr Butcher, and once this is in place, it will be able to achieve critical mass.

Although the school has moved into the wider fields of management education, it nevertheless remains close to its financial training roots, which helps to keep it on its toes.

“When you are dealing with the professional market, these people question what you are doing all the time,” says Mr Butcher.

And in a crowded and competitive market, such reflections may well help LSBF keep ahead of the game.

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