Interview with the Dean Duparcq about MSc in Finance Program

2017-02-13 11:05:22


Why did Nazarbayev University decide to develop MS in Finance program?
A recent article in the Financial Times provided an indication for market demand for MSc in Finance programs: “Ever since the 2008 crisis, and the realisation that many of those implicated in the meltdown were ignorant of the risks they were taking, training has been high on the agenda for those seeking a career in financial services. However, growth in demand for masters in finance degree programmes is also being driven by students who have no intention of working in financial services, but who feel such specialist masters qualifications, which can be completed in 12 months, are better value than a two-year MBA.” The author concludes that “in an uncertain world, there may never have been a better time for institutions offering financial training.”2 We believe that the local context here in Kazakhstan is no different.
Our market research indicates that MSc in Finance providers are experiencing considerable interest and large student enrolment. For example, according to the General Management Admissions Council (GMAC) 2016 Survey Results, “for the second year in a row, a majority of MSc Finance programs (55%) report growing application volumes. More than half of European (65%) and US-based MSc Finance programs (55%) report growth this year and thus, many plan to increase the 2016–2017 class size.
In addition, MSc in Finance programs remain highly competitive in 2016, with the second lowest average acceptance rate (45%) after full-time two-year MBA programs (42% median acceptance rate). Globally, international candidates represent 81 percent of the applicants for MSc in Finance programs, but this varies by school location. Nearly two-thirds of applicants to U.S.-based programs consist of candidates from East and Southeast Asia (64%), 18 percent are from the United States, and 10 percent are from Central and South Asia (10%). The applicant pool for MSc in Finance programs based in Europe consists of a smaller share of candidates from East and Southeast Asia (45%), with one-third (34%) from countries within Europe, and 11 percent from Central and South Asia.” 

What is the content and specifics of the program?
The NUGSB MSc in Finance program is 14 months in length, the duration of which is similar to programs offered by many highly regarded and accredited business schools in the U.S and internationally.
The Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Business’s (NUGSB) Master of Science Finance program is a focused, quantitative course of study for finance professionals. The program provides students with a solid conceptual, quantitative and practical foundation on which to launch and/or advance a career in a finance-related field. Through the coursework, fieldwork and thesis requirement, students develop the skills to appropriately conduct financial research and to effectively communicate the results, both orally and in written form.
The 15-course program covers all of the critical areas in finance: corporate finance, financial markets, valuation, financial institutions, quantitative financial methods, financial risk management and more. The program equips students with the tools necessary to develop and evaluate real and financial investment strategies, conduct technical and fundamental analysis, interact with important financial institutions, and analyze large amounts of financial and economic data. Courses are taught over a 3-week period. The program also incorporates two experiential modules off-campus, one of which will be a 2-week international module in a major world financial center.

What is the targeted audience for MS in Finance? Who are potential students of the program?
MSc in Finance programs generally attract candidates who have little to no prior work experience. About 72 percent of candidates to U.S. programs and 62 percent of candidates to European programs have less than one year of work experience. In a survey of 72 MSc in Finance programs from 12 countries or localities, the majority are U.S.-based and are taught exclusively through in-classroom instruction. A majority of applicants to Master of Finance programs come from the following world regions: East and Southeast Asia, the United States, Central and South Asia, and Western Europe. Thus, once the program is established, there is an opportunity for NUGSB to eventually attract applicants to its MSc in Finance program from Central and South Asia in particular, given geographical proximity.

What is the teaching staff of the program?
The NUGSB full-time teaching faculty is carefully selected from renowned international business schools (Cornell, University of Michigan, Tinbergen Institute Rotterdam, London School of Economics, Purdue University, ESSEC, University of Illinois, Wharton School, UT Austin, Manchester Business School, University of Washington, St. Louis, Northwestern University, NYU, HKUST, etc.). In addition to our full-time faculty, visiting faculty are involved where specialized electives are required and only hired from top business schools.

What is the market need in Kazakhstan for MS in Finance? Why does Kazakhstan need such program?
Industries in Kazakhstan have undergone a twenty-five year period of transformation with uneven results since the break-up of the Soviet Union. In order to realize President Nazarbayev’s strategic vision of 2050 and join the list of the top 30 most competitive developed countries in the world, trained professionals will be required in virtually all industrial, business and governmental sectors. Our own research, based on interviews of senior executives in more than one hundred organizations in Kazakhstan, corroborates such need. High quality internationally-oriented and accredited graduate-level programs in business-related disciplines help to address this market need.
Secondly, another driving force emanates from the economic difficulties that Kazakhstan has endured due to fluctuating and uncertain commodity prices, now and in the future, and possible geopolitical instability in the region. As such, there is a call for better financial training within banks and other financial institutions, as communicated to us by representatives of the National Bank of Kazakhstan.
Third, an increasing number of recent graduates from Bachelors programs and young professionals in many countries, including Kazakhstan, are seeking qualifications and credentials in the financial sphere, to differentiate themselves from others on the job market, while pursuing professional goals. There is a distinct preference for the shorter 10 month to one year MSc in Finance programs, as they tend to be less expensive than MBA programs, and, because most of these programs do not have a work experience requirement.
Fourth, as an indication of popularity and demand, the number of MSc in Finance programs offered by business schools internationally has grown substantially, particularly those targeting pre-experience students (which simply means that no previous work experience in the financial sector is required). An increasing number of applicants to MSc in Finance programs are coming from Asia. There is also a growing interest in such programs from sovereign wealth funds and central banks,6 as is the case here in Kazakhstan. In fact, leadership of the Astana International Financial Center located at the EXPO 2017 site has expressed interest in recruiting graduates from the program.

Are there any similar programs in other universities of Kazakhstan? If there are such programs what will be special about MS in Finance at NU?
Our market analysis has revealed that there are few high-quality alternatives for an MSc in Finance in the KZ marketplace. Many of these programs are offered only in Russian and the programs can be followed on a part-time basis.
In comparison, the value propositions of the proposed NUGSB MSc in Finance program are as follows: the combination of global focus and local context, with international faculty holding PhD degrees from accredited international business schools, networking opportunities through a two-week residency at the National Bank in Almaty as well as corporate contacts that will be provided by NUGSB Career Services, a two-week residency in one of the major financial markets (e.g., Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Frankfurt, London), and a team thesis project designed and executed under the guidance of a faculty advisor with subject matter expertise. The time is right for a high quality well-structured program in Kazakhstan.

What career do you foresee for graduates of MS in Finance?
Graduates of the NUGSB program will be hired by banks, insurance and mortgage companies, investment banks, the National Bank of Kazakhstan, and large national and international companies as financial analysts. All NUGSB students benefit from the NUGSB Career Services and three separate Career Weeks that help prepare students for the job market.

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