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Despite the excesses and scandals, finance still attracts as many, if not more, students. They believe the experience of working in a financial department can be a great launch pad for other ambitions.
It also needs to be recognised that the financial sector is still recruiting and offering attractive salaries. Financial training courses, as a result, still have a bright future, but in the years to come they must evolve to take into account the following four dimensions: geopolitics, knowledge of fraud mechanisms and cyber crime, alternative forms of financing, and the digitisation of professions.
1) Knowledge of geopolitics, I am convinced, will become compulsory for any manager or company director. It is thus necessary for finance students to be aware of international tensions, such as global economic crises, sanctions and wars, as they may have local consequences. They must be able to conduct their own analysis to understand how global events can affect the work they do and the sector they are in. They must also be prepared for work in foreign companies or with people from other cultures.
2) Fraud mechanisms and cyber crime are the most important issues that companies will have to face. It is important students gain an understanding of the different types of threats, the detection methods and the human approach, which involves understanding the motivation behind such criminal acts and how to prevent them.
This topic is hard to comprehend because, unfortunately, criminal groups have limitless imagination when carrying out their misdeeds, making it harder to anticipate their actions and the reasons behind their crimes.
Companies can also remain very discreet about wrongdoings that happen inside their walls, as the “fraudster” or the “victim of the fraud” are often company employees. A degree of sensitivity and confidentiality is required.
It is also necessary to deal with the consequences of money laundering. It is possible that students, once in the professional world, will unintentionally come across this type of operation. Training courses must teach them how to respond.
3) Other forms of financing, such as crowdsourcing, is experiencing increasing success and is currently used for raising funds for various start-ups and projects. Students must learn about alternative or different forms of finance — Islamic finance, for example. Knowledge of the principles of this subject will be an asset for students wanting to work in the Middle East or with banks or financial establishments of these countries.
4) The digitisation of professions refers to the numerous jobs being transformed by digital technology, including finance roles. It is necessary to understand the continuous impact of digitisation in the financial world. Technological advances have led to tasks being simplified and automated. However, tech innovations such as the development of trading platforms have reduced the demand for traders.
If financial training courses adopt a technical focus and integrate the above dimensions, this will help students to remain employable.
Jean- Francois Fiorina is associate dean at Grenoble Ecole de Management, France.