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Building A Future In Finance

Dalal street Investment Journal | January 30, 2020
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A successful career in finance is dependent on many factors other than good academic grades from a business school. A formal qualification in accounting or finance is a starting point. The field of finance is fast changing with continuous improvisation like new accounting standards and auditing norms, finance technology solutions, artificial intelligence and big data, changes in taxation and corporate laws, etc. Therefore, one needs to regularly keep updating his or her domain knowledge and also develop technical and interpersonal skills along with an ability to work and lead large teams.

A typical management programme in India is structured to prepare students to face uncertainties and develop an overall understanding on how corporate houses function. In the first year of a management programme, students are exposed to all the functional areas of management education which involve papers relating to finance, marketing, human resource, production and operation management, analytics, etc. After this exposure to all the functional areas, a student is expected to do internship at the end of the first year and choose an area of specialisation. In this article, we will focus only on finance as an area of expertise.

Generally, finance covers the core body of knowledge (BOK) which provides students an insight into major areas where they can make their careers. The core BOK is divided into corporate finance and accounting, financial institutions and capital markets, commercial banking and insurance, and regulatory and taxation. Let us look at some of the job options a finance student can select. Many of these roles are financially more rewarding than others. However, a student needs to carry out a careful analysis of his or her abilities, skill-sets, personal preferences and long-term career prospects before taking a decision.

Corporate Finance Roles or Financial Planning and Analysis

Roles like these involve preparation of financial statements and reports, determining cost of production, budgeting, raising invoices for clients and settling billing issues, analysing how a product or process is functioning, taking product pricing decisions, negotiating lines of credit with bankers, coordinating with auditors, analysing and managing resources, etc.A student needs to be thorough in courses like accounting and reporting, management accounting, financial management, corporate governance, taxation, etc.

In this role, besides good financial acumen, skills of working on ERP packages like SAP accounting software, Oracle, statistical packages, Microsoft Access and Microsoft Excel would be an added advantage. Corporate finance area offers high employment opportunities. In order to achieve greater heights in such roles, candidates can consider an added qualification like Certified Management Accountant (CMA).

Investment Banking: Equity Research, Fixed Income and Credit Research, Commodities

Investment banking is the most sought after and highly rewarding area in finance. However, this space offers limited opportunities and requires high level of communication and analytical abilities. The necessary skill-set would be good command over Microsoft Excel along with deep understanding of financial modelling and business valuation, mergers and acquisition, taxation, etc. In the role of an equity research or credit research analyst, you are expected to write research reports – sharing your analysis with an internal team or external clients. Generally, the roles in equity research or credit research would involve determining the valuation of asset classes i.e. equity, commodities and bonds.

If the student is exposed to working on a Thomson Reuters or Bloomberg terminal, it would be an added advantage as in the initial phase of either of these roles a candidate is expected to do bit of data mining and modelling of financial products. In order to achieve excellence in such roles, candidates can consider an added qualification like Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Chartered Financial Planner (CFP).


There are fewer roles for fresh graduates in the consulting sphere and anyone eyeing this segment should have great capabilities of understanding the industry and its trouble zones. In this role, the candidate has to manage both sides and ensure that the relationship between the consulting firm and its clients grows. The skill-sets required to excel in this area will include high level of soft skills, ability to work in teams, extremely high level of analytical abilities, ability to be a good listener, greater adaptability, flexible attitude, good general knowledge, in-depth understanding of business and IT processes, etc. Students who wish to make a career in this industry should have the understanding and ability to handle strategic issues like growth and diversification, business transformation, succession planning, mergers and acquisitions, issues in taxation, transfer pricing, etc.

Courses that would help students to prepare for this role include those in areas like strategic management, risk analysis and management, corporate governance, crisis management, advanced taxation, legal aspects of business, management control systems, international finance, etc. For making a successful career in consulting, besides a post-graduate degree in management education, a student must target to have professional qualification as a Chartered Accountant or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or specialise in project management.

Commercial Banking and Insurance

Banking and insurance are the largest recruiters and offer a range of service roles starting from bank teller, loan officer, relationship management for retail as well as corporate banking clients, operations, treasury management, compliance, insurance sales management, actuary, business development management, claims, risk and loss assessment, legal matters related to insurance, etc. In many of these roles, the candidate would be directly dealing with clients and should have good soft skills, ability to understand issues quickly, and resolve them. A good knowledge of banking and financial services’ industry, methods of lending such as working capital financing as well as long-term credits, project financing, treasury operations, life as well as non-life insurance, etc. would be very helpful to excel in this area.

Financial Technology

The buzz word today is ‘fintech’ and many students wish to make their careers in this space. Fintech stands for financial technology and is at the evolving intersection of financial services and technology. In simple words, fintech firms use technology like artificial intelligence and block chain, to name a few, to offer new financial products and solutions to the end-users. Some of the fintech innovations that are disrupting the traditional financial services are mobile payments, peer-to-peer lending, automated trading or algorithm trading, marketplace lending, money transfers, etc. Various roles offered in this space include those of data analyst, graphic designer, product engineer, cyber security and risk manager, legal and compliance manager, social media content and data analyst, etc.

Best Foot Forward

Management education prepares a student to be agile and a quick learner. More importantly, it develops an ability to adapt quickly and take on new challenges especially when the goal post is continuously moving. During the two years of pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme, students should work on live projects and pursue research work in the area of their interest. Mastering some econometric tools or analytical skills can be a great advantage at the time of campus recruitment drive. Many students also publish articles, research papers or case studies in collaboration with their faculty. This not only enhances their resume but also gives them an edge over the other two lakh students who graduate every year. 

Dr. Ruzbeh J. Bodhanwala, Professor, FLAME University and Dr. Shernaz Bodhanwala, Associate Professor, FLAME University

Manek Daruvala

Founder and Director, T.I.M.E 

The Better The B-School, The Tougher It Is To Get Into 

Which type of MBA programme is most popular with aspirants wishing to qualify as business management experts?

There are two kinds of programmes that schools offer – a generic MBA programme which most schools offer and a specialised MBA in a particular stream such as finance, human resources, marketing, etc. that some schools do. Given that most schools offer the generic MBA programme, it can be safely said that the kind or type of MBA is not a major factor in the students’ minds while joining a B-school. Most students look at doing the regular generic MBA programme. In these schools, in the first year, students are taught courses in all the core areas – marketing, finance, human resources, IT, operations, etc. Unlike the subjects in the first year which are mandatory, in the second year almost all the subjects are electives.

Students take up subjects from each of these areas that they are interested in. Their interest would largely be based on their comfort with the subjects in those areas, interaction with their seniors and professors about careers in those areas, their own experience during the internships, and to some extent, the kind of companies that are likely to visit their campuses for placements. This shows that the popularity of a particular kind of MBA is not driven by the fact that such MBAs do better or worse in their careers but due to a host of other factors, including personal interest.

Moving to the B-schools that offer specialised programmes right from the outset, the popularity of these programmes is not at the expense of any another programme of a different kind but due to the popularity of the school. For example, the rural management programme of schools like IIMAhmedabad and IRMA are extremely popular. However, there are other schools in the country that offer rural management programmes but do not attract a similar level of attention for this stream. Some B-schools also offer one-year MBA programmes instead of the usual two-year programme. Such one-year programmes are generally more popular with candidates who have a large amount of work experience.

With new programmes getting launched by various business schools, how do you suggest MBA aspirants should look at them?

It is too early to comment on this as it is an evolving area. However, students should be clear that such programmes which cater to a niche segment also have a limited set of companies that need people with such expertise. This would mean that the flexibility and variety that MBA inherently offers would not be available in the same scale for such specialised or niche programmes.

What is your definition of a good MBA programme?

The following parameters should be kept in mind when evaluating an MBA programme:

1. Rigour of the selection process and quality of students: The better the B-school, the tougher it is to get into. It is only natural for the schools to select the best students while the brightest students would wish to get into only the best schools. Hence, if a school is very difficult to get into, it should be well worth getting into! It is also important to note that the quality of students directly impacts the quality of learning, especially as the amount of peer learning that happens at a top B-school is quite significant. Entrance cut-off percentile would hence be one objective measure of the quality of the students at a B-school – the higher the cut-off, the better the quality of the students and the B-school.
2. Image of the institute: A B-school’s high brand value helps students move ahead faster in their career as it would help in getting doors open which would otherwise be closed. An interview which otherwise may not happen could materialise if the brand value of the B-school is strong enough. A stronger brand gets noticed even outside the country fairly routinely these days. A school with a good brand value would also be able to attract more and better competent faculty, thereby enhancing the learning experience of the students while on campus. Brand value, thus, helps both in the long and short term.
3. Location of the B-school: Location plays an important role in attracting faculty and industry for placements to the campus. While the brand strength of an institute can counter the effect of location to a large extent, location still plays an important role. The metros have a clear edge over smaller locations in this regard. 
4. Return on investment: This is a combination of two factors – the fee and the placement figures of the school. They together determine how financially viable the programme is. Most students would find that if they select their B-school well, it should certainly be possible to give their careers a big positive return on investment boost by doing an MBA.

How important is cracking a top-ranking MBA institute? Do rankings matter?

The brand reputation of a B-school has a major role to play in the success of MBA graduates. While there are many examples of those from not-so-well-known schools who have made it to the top, these would be the exceptions and not the rule. Hence, to extract the most out of MBA, one should try to get into a B-school that is as highly ranked as possible.

What would be your advice to MBA aspirants?

Make sure that you aim for the best. CAT is not a difficult exam. It only needs a smart approach to taking the test with the necessary hard work put in. This would mean sticking to a preparatory routine, attending classes regularly (very important) and practicing a lot. This, coupled with taking mock-tests (AIMCATs) regularly and analysing them thoroughly, would convert your MBA dream into a reality. 

There Is Increasing Buy- In For The Online Mode

Dr Chris Williams Programme
Director, The Durham MBA (Online)
Durham University Business School, United Kingdom 

Could you explain the importance of studying for an MBA full-time or online?

Whether you study for a degree in business management i.e. MBA in a full-time mode or an online mode, there are numerous potential benefits for your career. An MBA offers the chance to gain a broad array of management and business knowledge to boost your leadership skills, raise your awareness of what it takes to take effective decisions in an increasingly complex world, and to build new global networks that will endure for life. The outcome of gaining these important human, intellectual and social assets has been shown consistently to translate into sustainable increases in earnings’ potential.

This is especially so at the higher echelon international business schools like Durham University Business School. However, we also see the reasons for embarking on an MBA to go beyond long-term financial benefits. Students are increasingly interested in pursuing alternative career opportunities, switching careers, and understanding and getting involved in social responsibility initiatives. The MBA experience gives management professionals the required opportunity not only to earn but also to reflect on their values and ambitions for life.

What are the advantages of an online MBA?

Clearly, it allows the student to maintain their job and career in industry. However, it also allows the study material to be internalised over a slightly longer period of two years than a normal full-time MBA, and this can be highly beneficial for the overall student learning process. A student can pursue his or her course from anywhere in the world as long as there is an internet connection and would also be able to network with others on the programme across multiple cohorts across the planet. More mature and experienced students often balance international roles, job and house moves, family commitments, etc.

Many simply have very interesting jobs that they do not want to give up for one year in order to pursue a full-time course. Fortunately, technology has matured to such a point that we can hold interactive classes and case discussions directly with the faculty from anywhere in the world while guest speakers can engage with students and share their experiences without leaving a carbon footprint through air and road travel. In that respect, the Durham Online MBA is highly flexible and many of the modules are also available for teaching at Durham – it is up to the student to choose how to fulfil his or her MBA goals.

How is an MBA a value-addition for a person’s career enhancement?

We are aware of some students who progress within their existing job roles after acquiring an MBA and these come from a wide range of sectors and locations around the world. Students can also move on to other employment opportunities and many decide to start their own business after completing the course. Some stay employed with their current employer initially but start small businesses in an incubation mode to see how they develop, i.e. taking the initiative for themselves based on their MBA experience to create new options. In some cases, MBA graduates are attracted by the academic stimulation of management and business study and progress to a PhD or DBA.

Do employers respect online MBAs as much as the full-time route?

In my opinion, there is increasing buy-in for the online mode. While distance learning and distance MBAs have been around for a while, the opportunities for online education and meaningful learning experiences and engagement have increased as technology and bandwidth have increased. Employers may not want to ‘lose’ key employees for a year on a full-time programme and would thus encourage them to stay in their position and pursue an online MBA. The projects and assignments undertaken by the student during their online MBA can benefit the employer and many are aware of this and provide support to the student with this in mind. We have also noted that the demand for the online mode is very strong and many of the business schools that offer both full-time and online modes actually have more MBA students enrolled in the online mode. 

Rajiv Shah
Director and CEO,
Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies 

It’s The Choice That Matters 

For young working professionals in their twenties, pursuing a management program in the distance learning mode is often seen by their peers as counter-intuitive. You spend all your free time putting in extra effort for attending computerbased classes, submitting assignments, projects, and for what? Just for a few more letters on your resume? At least, that’s likely what you might have heard from other young professionals and friends your age. But that’s absolutely the wrong line of thinking. First of all, let’s put aside one common myth about management programs right away. Business Administration in any stream – Finance, Marketing, Human Resources, you name it – is not just about theories and case studies.

It’s about understanding people, and their behaviour with regards to the external stimuli of market forces, financial constraints, legal wrangles, economic changes, and most of all, a geopolitical and social environment. Universities, like Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), that provide management education sensitise their students to such stimuli through projects, assignments, as well as real-time interaction with the market and social forces, and help them analyse and come to their inferences and conclusions. No amount of pedagogy, whether online or offline, can achieve the nuances of such understanding.

For young professionals just starting their careers, a management education earned through distance learning could be exactly the practical learning they are craving for. And for those with 5-10 years of job experience under their belt, a management program could help their careers grow further; more often than not their work experience also adds further value to their degree in terms of how to use the learning best suited to their work environment. Many IT companies and even a few big-ticket manufacturing companies today often insist their star professionals take a distance learning management program, often from a reputed institute like NMIMS Global Access.

The flexibility of distance education gives students looking to further their studies an opportunity to receive an education that’s both affordable as well as more convenient to fit into their busy schedules. There are probably many individuals who don’t expect to have the time or spare finances to pursue management education. Now, they have the opportunity to earn that education through distance learning programs. Thanks to the digital revolution, the world is getting smaller and we are living in a global village. A person sitting in one corner of the world can talk to someone sitting in another continent. In the same way, distance learning has changed the way we see higher education. The best thing about distance learning is that it is geography-agnostic.

One could learn from anywhere and at any chosen time. It does not matter what part of the country you are living in; you can join a program and start learning. A distance learning student can enrol to study with NMIMS in any part of the world if there is an internet connection available there. This means you can live in Manesar near Gurugram and earn a post-graduate diploma from NMIMS Global Access. Our distance learning students can work at their career while simultaneously attending classes because there are no schedule limitations. NMIMS Global Access has built a robust Learning Management System (LMS), which is available on the web and as an app on Android and iOS.

The LMS provides a platform to learn synchronously through ‘live lectures’ where students and faculty interact to learn and solve all their doubts. Students can also revisit the lectures by viewing the recordings. NMIMS Global Access also provides students with an option to solve their queries or doubts by putting questions to the faculty through the ‘Ask a Query’ section. However, a student needs to be aware of a few disadvantages of distance learning. Studying at your own pace without a purpose of self-discipline often ends up stretching the duration of study unnecessarily; very often the student’s interest is likely to wane. Some employers might hesitate to hire graduates with a distance learning program, especially if the program is not from a reputed university.

An online institute without proper accreditation, after all, can’t be trusted to impart high-quality education. Therefore, it’s best to check that the program of your choice is recognised and accredited. And that is why the institute you choose to study with is just as important as which course you are taking. NMIMS has been awarded the NAAC Grade A+ accreditation from NAAC and has been awarded the Autonomy Category 1 by UGC. It’s therefore not a surprise that NMIMS is regarded as one of the top 10 B-schools in India. Taking the right course, with the right university, can throw open doors you never expected. And with the right higher education under your belt, you can propel your career into the upper echelons of management, in whatever field you choose.

Soumya Choudhury
Associate Professor, IFIMBschool 

Data Science Is Seen As A Pathway To A Rewarding Career 

Data Science is seen as one of the most desired skills for a T-shaped business professional and will probably be one of, if not the career of choice for the next couple of decades. Data Science is the base of forming recommendation engines for enhancing sales through cross-sell and upsell, detecting fraud or churn, optimisation for efficient business operations, etc. through harnessing structured data available within the organisation and making sense of it as well as tapping other kinds of external structured, semi-structured, quasi and unstructured data.

Why has studying business analytics or data science become so critical?

Data science is seen as a pathway to a rewarding career by being able to leverage tools and knowledge of statistics along with artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve business problems. Anyone who is not averse to mathematics would like to explore and is attracted to the high-paying job of a data scientist or engineer or data analytics manager.

Frankly, Data Science is seen as one of the most desired skills for a T-shaped business professional and will probably be one of, if not the career of choice for the next couple of decades. Data Science is the base of forming recommendation engines for enhancing sales through cross-sell and upsell, detecting fraud or churn, optimisation for efficient business operations, etc. through harnessing structured data available within the organisation and making sense of it as well as tapping other kinds of external structured, semi-structured, quasi and unstructured data.

What are the career options open for students of PGDM – Business Analytics?

Some of the potential roles in the field of data science include big data analyst, data architect, lead data engineer, principal data scientist, data analytics manager, data science consultant and machine learning engineer. The exact requirements of the role is different for employers from different sectors and based on the nature of Data Science practice. However, the course will ensure that based on the specialisation and project, students can take up more senior and impactful roles within these employers and are productive from day 1.

What is the educational background required to pursue this particular program?

As stated above, anyone who has a valid NMAT score (80 percentile and above) or takes the online test and secures a 60 per cent grade or above is eligible. A background in engineering, coding or statistics is not necessary but would definitely help the student get better marks. However, courses are taught for people without necessarily having such a background. Overall, there needs to be 100 per cent effort and sincerity to learn the fundamentals of data science and its applications.

Could you brief us about the 15-month executive program of PGDM in Business Analytics at IFIM Business School?

It is an accelerated program for a PGDM in Data Science which meets the AICTE norms and brings together the strengths of IFIM Business School (with a 25-year track record of disruptive MBA curricula) and International School of Engineering INSOFE (3rd ranked and fastest rising Data Science training and research institute), which will be India’s first such classroom program to teach Business and Data Science courses to working professionals and students. The first batch is expected to commence in February 2020 for which admissions are on. The curriculum includes courses on Core Data Science - Statistics, Data Structures, Data Management as well as Machine and Deep Learning with hands-on labs from industry practitioners and ML researchers.

This would include a Capstone Project and specialisation across financial markets, digital supply chain or healthcare. The core business courses cover Marketing Management, Digital Business, Accounting and Finance Management, Human Resource Management, Business Communication etc. as well as practice courses like industry internships, social immersion and personality enhancement. There will be a focus on doing live projects for industry that makes such talent immediately employable and with high jump in salary versus standard software engineering or non-IT jobs for engineers. IFIM and INSOFE will bring its list of placement partners – digital native companies who would absorb this talent in high impact roles in their respective organisations. These include Flipkart, Walmart, Target, BCG Consulting, Quadratyx, Amazon, Accenture and IBM.

Why is it important to pursue an MBA program from accredited business school only?

What is the importance of being accredited by AASCB? Accredited business schools have processes in place and faculty who are oriented towards teaching such courses with the right mix of research academicians and industry practitioners. AACSB is a very prestigious accreditation accorded to few institutions and being the 6th AACSB-accredited business school and among the top 5 per cent globally gives more credibility to the certificate provided by such an institution amongst likely employers. Only 5% of B-Schools globally. Have an AACSB or equivalent certification and this has enabled IFIM to develop global credibility and recognition and is the reason why IFIM B-School is partnering with global business schools like McCombs, Darden, ESCP, Wollongong and Rennes.

Students can rest assured that the practices and processes followed by such accredited institutions are comparable with the best business schools globally so what effectively they are assured of is world-class quality education at Indian prices.

(Source: https://www.dsij.in/DsijIssueDetails/ArtMID/10519/ArticleID/11265/indias-best-business-schools-2020)