Business schools have made significant changes to their finance curricula following the financial crisis of 2008, according to a series of Financial Times polls* of alumni from the world’s leading Masters in Finance degrees.
Of those who completed their one-year programmes in 2008, at the height of the crisis, only one-third told the FT that the social responsibilities of the financial sector were formally discussed in their degree. Among those who graduated from the same set of institutions in 2010, two-thirds report that they were.
“Today we are handling [business ethics] in a much more structured way,” says Michael Grote, professor of corporate finance at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. Ethics courses are now part of all masters programmes’ core curricula at the German school.
Almost half (49 per cent) of 2010 finance graduates surveyed say that their business school placed “significant” emphasis on social responsibility during their course, up from only 25 per cent of those who graduated two years earlier.
“Teaching ethics in the financial sector is often misunderstood as teaching students to be boy scouts,” says Prof Grote. “Instead we try and teach them self-reflection, which is much more sustainable.”
Finance graduates appear to be more critical of the sector itself, with only 34 per cent concluding that it takes its social responsibilities seriously enough.
“You have a more questioning student body these days,” says Ruth Bender, reader in corporate financial strategy at Cranfield School of Management. “Students today are much more sceptical about the role of [the financial sector].”
The vast majority (83 per cent) of the class of 2010 believe that the financial industry should become more transparent to correct this perception. By making loans to small and medium size enterprises more accessible and by increasing community engagement, 46 per cent and 40 per cent of graduates respectively say that the sector could take more responsibility.
* A total of 354 masters in finance graduates from the class of 2010 completed the FT survey in May 2013. The same set of questions were answered in May 2012 by 193 alumni who graduated from the same programmes in 2009 and 105 who graduated in 2008.
The FT Masters in Finance Rankings 2013 will be published on Monday 24 June.