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Preparing for the future of finance with a new interdisciplinary track

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Published on Thursday, 25 March 2021

Starting September 2021, the Master in Finance and Economics will offer a new track of specialisation in Digital Transformation in Finance.

The Master in Finance and Economics (MScFE) is a popular two-year programme at the Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance (FDEF) of the University of Luxembourg. After completing a common first year, students choose a track which reflects their interests, skills and career ambitions. This new track adds to an existing roster of tracks including specialisations in Banking, Investment Management, Risk Management, Sustainable Finance and Financial Economics. The Master track is currently open to students who have completed equivalent studies in Finance or Economics and wish to join in the second year. In a next step, the programme will expand to include students with backgrounds such as engineering and computer science.

The programme includes among others courses on blockchains and novel markets, on advanced data analytics, and on the regulatory implications of digitisation. The interdisciplinary course programme is organised in cooperation with the Department of Law (FDEF), with the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Computer Science at the Faculty of Science, Technology and Medicine (FSTM) and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) where it is supported by the PayPal-FNR PEARL Chair in Digital Financial Services led by Professor Gilbert Fridgen.

Dr. Zsófia Kräussl, course director for the new track, provides insight into the background of this interdisciplinary track and the unique perspectives that it offers to students in finance.

What motivated the decision to open a track dedicated to digital transformation in finance?

This project has been in motion for quite a while within the Department of Finance and we have reached the right momentum to launch this study track. The financial industry has always had an intense focus on developing advanced digital solutions. Technology, including more recent fintech initiatives, is an important, well-integrated element of day-to-day business in Finance.

There are, however, game-changer trends in digitisation appearing, which have concrete, measurable, systemic consequences for the financial sector. Digitalised routines of our societal and economic interactions allow the development of advanced, cognitive tools for financial analytics. Adding to it all, blockchains offer the opportunity to rethink systematically the way we design, use, and embrace financial services. Adding to it all: We are witnessing an increasing demand for topical, state-of the art knowledge from our students, too.

The didactical concept and content-development strategy we are implementing for this study track is, however, quite revolutionary. We are collaborating with colleagues in various domains to align content and to educate students about the same phenomena from different, domain-specific angles. This study track is a real, inter-disciplinary effort for an educational programme.

What benefits can student gain from the track’s transversal approach? 

One of the most important goals of the study track is to boost analytical and problem-solving competences, where digitisation offers potential solutions to the problems inherent in the traditional financial infrastructure. The vision is to allow Master students of different disciplines to collaborate, to study and to work together on different analytical and practical cases. The organisational setup of the study track allows for intensive mentoring of students, permitting us, lecturers, to provide individual guidance, too, if needed.

 In my view, a future professional in finance & economics cannot escape from exploring, addressing and analysing impacts and implications of digitisation in finance & economics. To launch new financial products, to design novel markets, to rethink financial services by leveraging on digitisation, as well as to address implications of digitisation (among others) for risk management, finance and ICT professionals need to reach a shared understanding. This has become an important requirement not only to fulfil regulatory compliance, but also, for the long-term feasibility of the sector.

Thus, a real benefit of our didactic approach for our students is to experiment with, and to comprehend the future trends of digitisation in Finance, and to allow students to apply IT skills to Finance. The organisational setup of the study track allows for intensive mentoring of students on an individual basis. Nevertheless, without having strong, collaborative ties with the Department of Law, with FSTM and with SnT in place, the study track would not be able to reach its true potential.

Which careers await students who have completed the track?

Different umbrella organisations of the local financial sector, such as ABBL, LFF or ALFI regularly hold workshops, and facilitate discussions on different aspects of digitisation. In our greater region alone, financial institutions, as well as fintech ventures are actively experimenting with, and launching novel, ICT-intensive financial services.

The financial decision-making of individuals, as well as their purchasing habits are becoming digitally enhanced to a point where finance can provide the toolset to assess, and to measure implications. All these aspects above signal to us, academics, that students completing this study track will have a broad variety of career options to choose from, driven by the topic of their interest.

For more information about the Digital Transformation in Finance track and how to apply, visit the Master programme webpage.