Myth: An Executive Master in Finance (EMFin) is a programme for banking professionals. 

INSEAD’s EMFin Programme Director Massimo Massa (right), who is also the Rothschild Chaired Professor of Banking and INSEAD Professor of Finance, debunks this myth and shares more about the type of participants who come into the programme.

Massimo Massa

Who is the right audience for this programme?

If you come from banking, you will benefit from doing the programme, but it's not exclusively for professionals working in banks. It is also for finance professionals from any other kind of organisations.

The goal of the programme is to transition participants from having a general knowledge of finance to more specialised understanding, and then apply their skills to a global perspective that helps them to take on leadership positions in their companies.

People on board the programme are those looking to develop and advance into a finance leadership role in future, and they want to understand how to implement change and lead within their organisations.

Can you describe how the EMFin profile has changed over the years?

In the past, professionals in the financial services worked in silos within a business and were required to know one specific function very well. The new profile now is somebody who has a 360-degree knowledge, understands the links between his silos and different silos, draws links and is able to manage work that is constantly facing disruptions. This profile is a person who understands and implements change to ensure the best product for the customer, and/or is an entrepreneur within the company. Many EMFin alumni have also gone on to start up their own company.

Very often, the process was inspired by the Capstone, as this project allows them to come up with a new product or unique idea that is profitable and sustainable, and work on executing it with the help of classmates and the faculty.

Is the EMFin a banking programme?

Banking is one sub-sector of businesses that operate in finance.

If you come from banking, you will benefit from doing the programme, but it's not exclusively for professionals working in banks. It is also for finance professionals from any other kind of organisations.

Within the finance space, I would expect people to come from banking, insurance, asset management and brokerage companies or new technology/new startup companies operating within the finance sector. It can also be people from consulting companies or from companies who are interested in understanding the financial world.

Finance is not only a discipline that tells you how to run a specific financial strategy, but it is the only discipline that helps you to understand and put numbers in a quantitative framework. You may have a strategy to take over another company, but if you don't quantify it in a proper way, it is unlikely to be successful. Therefore, I would also expect people to come from the corporate sector, as any type of corporate strategy requires quantification.

Quantification means understanding how to create value. This would also extend to founders or even owners of companies. These people need to understand what it means to create value and finance is the only discipline that can teach you what value is, and how you can create and quantify it.

What is your view on participants from a corporate background? In what way do they benefit from EMFin?

Participants with a corporate background generally have a clearer perspective of how an overarching business structure works. Therefore, they are very well-trained in navigating the power and politics within. They don’t usually have an entrepreneurial mindset and depending on whether they came from a finance or non-finance division, they may have incomplete knowledge of finance.

Is there a past participant who left the strongest impression on you and why?

Every participant leaves an impression. I recall that there was a particular team of people on the Capstone project who were working on a topic that I am most interested in, which was behavioural finance in FinTech. What impressed me was their determination to come up with a new product offering by trying to implement behavioural finance in asset management in a very, very specific and applied way. They were committed to their idea and truly believed it would succeed. That energy and ambition was very inspiring.


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