It is an exciting time for the finance sector with the blockchain technology market expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 87.7 per cent between 2023 and 2030, and non-traditional finance players raising the stakes with new services such as embedded finance.
Real-time information, automation and predictive capabilities are transforming finance roles to become more strategic and less transactional. Against this landscape, a pure finance approach is no longer sufficient.
Now employers are looking not only for solid finance skills and experience, but also for those who deliver speed-to-value — those who are equipped with a strategic perspective, learning ability, networking and communication skills to lead organisations into the future.
This is where a formal qualification such as INSEAD’s Executive Master in Finance (EMFin) comes into play. Designed for experienced finance professionals, the programme is carefully designed to go beyond deepening participants’ knowledge of the sector and enhance their leadership and management skills.
Here are five ways finance executives can benefit from the EMFin:
#1 Skills for the future
According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Corporate Recruiters Survey – 2023, over half of the employers worldwide view communication, data analysis and strategy as key skills to have now, and believe that these skills will grow in importance in the future. Tech skills, too, are expected to become increasingly valuable, especially in areas of Web3, blockchain, cloud-based tech, AI and machine learning.
With its dual focus on finance and leadership, the EMFin offers participants the opportunity to refresh their knowledge and refine these skills for the future. For example, they can leverage the evolving selection of electives to update themselves on tech trends such as AI and fintech. They can also take courses such as Management in Decision-making, Sustainable Finance and Negotiations, to hone their repertoire of non-finance skills.
Leadership capabilities, which are emphasised throughout the curriculum, come to the fore in a final Leadership Capstone module designed to refine one’s executive presence and prepare for leadership roles.
“The Leadership Capstone provided a framework to think and perform as a leader in various ways and there were skills we could directly apply to work upon return,” Hyunggyu (Kevin) Cho, Deputy Head of Technology Operations, EMEA, explains, crediting the training for preparing him well for a senior management role. “I believe this module is a critical differentiating point compared to other Finance Masters that exist out there.”
#2 Real-world learning and application
Importantly, lessons from finance to leadership are taught with a real-world focus in mind, Programme Director Massimo Massa says. He explains: “We tailored the programme in a way so that we could leverage the expertise we have from dealing with companies and solving business problems. This means that the faculty is not simply lecturing, but also discussing real-life scenarios and how to develop leadership capabilities within the finance space.”
When complemented with case studies, group projects and the final Capstone Project to tackle a real-world issue, this approach ensures participants have ample opportunity to apply and cement their knowledge.
For Timothy Hay, CEO of Somerset Capital, the emphasis on application was also enhanced by how EMFin modules are spaced three or four months apart.
“This allowed me to come back into the workplace and immediately make an impact by asking my team to think differently,” he testifies.
He adds that beyond classroom insights, it was also an advantage to be able to tap into INSEAD’s access to research and professors while in the EMFin. “I was able to bring empirical evidence back to my colleagues and team when looking to raise capital, as well as evolve and enhance our investment process,” he says.
#3 Networking opportunities
Diving deeper into the GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey – 2023, intercultural skills are predicted to be the top communication skill in demand. Yet, employers from the financial sector in particular expressed concern about the readiness of graduates to navigate an intercultural work environment.
These abilities can be cultivated in a typical EMFin classroom where within 35 participants there are more than 10 nationalities, and around 40 per cent of which are women. Diversity is also seen in the sectors and roles participants hail from, and as Hyunggyu (Kevin) Cho discovered “in every class, there was most likely someone who had real-life experience in that field and was able to make the subject more relevant.”
When combined with the dual campus experience and emphasis on teamwork, this diversity allows participants to go beyond growing their networks, to also broaden their perspectives and prepare for work in the global world.
#4 Career development
Part of the appeal of a finance career is its attractive salary and wide range of roles in organisations that span from banks to consulting firms and start-ups. In the US for example, the salary for a finance professional ranges from $72,000 to $134,000 with an average of around $84,420 per year, depending on the exact job function.
By opening the door to more senior positions, an Executive Master in Finance can accelerate this growth. Graduates with a postgraduate degree in Finance can land some of the highest-paying jobs in the world with the potential to have their salaries increased by over 80 percentage points. In fact, In the US, a Master in Finance graduate can earn between $94,000 and $151,000, averaging over $10,000 more per year than for without the qualification.
To help participants maximise the opportunities that come, the EMFin offers access to INSEAD’s Career Development Centre (CDC), for participants to find support ranging from drafting CVs and cover letters to preparing for interviews and conducting job searches. Workshops and career advice sessions are also available throughout the programme for participants to reflect on and refocus their career trajectories.
These resources were “invaluable” for Ada Fong, Vice President at Mirae Asset Securities who made the move from commercial banking to asset management after the programme. “The CDC helped me grasp the importance of soft skills like presentation, which proved particularly important in convincing a potential employer that I can lead a team and perform at a high level, regardless of the role or function I’m looking to take on,” she explains.
#5 Exposure to a leading financial centre
Last but not least, the majority of the EMFin programme is conducted in Singapore, a country ranked on the Global Financial Centres Index as third in the world and top in Asia-Pacific. The country is home to regional FX and trading teams from the top five global banks, with almost one trillion US dollars of FX traded each day. Both regional and global players also use Singapore as a gateway to access regional investment opportunities, and the fintech space remains robust with over 1,300 fintech firms tackling areas like regtech, payments and more.
For EMFin participants, taking classes in Singapore is therefore an opportunity to immerse in the workings of a leading global financial hub. It offers the chance to learn about finance in Asia and to network with top finance talent — gaining valuable insights and building connections to take their finance career to the next level.