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Topics in Finance

  • Teacher(s):   G.Ballocchi  
  • Course given in: English
  • ECTS Credits: 3 credits
  • Schedule: Autumn Semester 2021-2022, 2.0h. course (weekly average)
  •  sessions
  • site web du cours course website
  • Related programmes:
    Master of Science (MSc) in Actuarial Science

    Master of Science (MSc) in Finance, Orientation Corporate Finance

    Master of Science (MSc) in Finance : Financial Entrepreneurship and Data Science

    Master of Science (MSc) in Finance, Orientation Asset and Risk Management

    Master of Law (MLaw) in Law and Economics
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Objectives

The objective of this course is to serve as a bridge between the theory and the practice of finance, thus providing students with concrete tools to build their careers, as recommended by MScF alumni.

This course aims to significantly broaden the students' understanding of the practice of finance and better situate and apply their academic knowledge in the job context. At the end of the course students are expected to:

1a. Discuss current trends in finance, e.g. in fields such as private banking and investment management, pension fund management, financial intermediation, sustainable investing and the impact of fintech.

1b. Critique the applications of theoretical concepts, and the limitations thereof, to the above fields, in the light of lessons from financial practice and financial history.

2. Explain in practical terms how to use available market instruments to enter into, or hedge exposures, particularly for Foreign Exchange and listed derivatives.

3a. Perform a gap analysis between their current skills and the competencies required for their chosen job objective.

3b. Formulate a plan with actions to acquire those competencies.

4a. Describe how to structure a MScF thesis.

4b. Describe common steps in empirical data analysis.

Although objectives 4a and 4b are meant to provide general guidance for the MScF thesis, they are relevant also for any thesis or research work, particularly if it involves empirical data analysis.

A detailed list of Learning Outcomes will be provided during the course.

Because of covid-19 related uncertainty, this syllabus is subject to change during the semester.

Contents

Students are expected to achieve the stated learning objectives through the following means:

a) Leading practitioners, from a broad range of financial institutions and backgrounds, visit the class to present the issues to share their perspectives, providing students with a unique opportunity to obtain straight information about different financial careers. Students are expected to take advantage of this unique opportunity by preparing pertinent questions for those leading practitioners.

b) Formal lectures are presented on cutting-edge topics with practical relevance, such as human capital and lifetime wealth management, using derivatives in portfolio management and a detailed, down-to-earth explanation of the foreign exchange market. Students are expected to master the learning outcome statements that are provided.

c) Students get advice on how to bridge the gap between their current skillset and what is required to pursue their career objectives. Resources on soft skills and other relevant topics are made available on the course Moodle site.

d) Students are asked to read in their own time three books and a few articles that give them background information on the historical development of financial markets and on financial crises. The list of required articles and the learning outcome statements from both books and articles are provided in the course. The books are:

  1. "When Genius Failed", Roger Lowenstein, Random House, 2000
  2. "This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly”, Carmen Reinhart & Kenneth Rogoff, Princeton University Press (selected chapters)
  3. "Financial Market History- Reflections on the Past for Investors Today", Edited by David Chambers and Elroy Dimson, CFA Institute Research Foundation (selected chapters)

For the first two books, get cheap paperbacks, e.g. on Amazon (all editions are the same to prepare for the exam). The third book is available for free in electronic form at http://www.cfapubs.org/doi/pdf/10.2470/rf.v2016.n3.1 It is foreseen that hard copies of the third book are going to be provided to students for free (courtesy of the Research Foundation of CFA Institute).

It is essential to attend the course either physically in the classroom or online at the time of the course (if the online modality is available).

Pre-requisites

None, although first year MScF courses are recommended, but not required. If you have additional questions, please contact giuseppe.ballocchi@unil.ch

Evaluation

First attempt

Exam:
Written 2h00 hours
Documentation:
Not allowed
Calculator:
Allowed with restrictions
Evaluation:

The final grade is the weighted-average average between assignments (30%) and the final exam (70%). The final exam is based on the detailed Learning Outcome document that is provided on Moodle. The final exam consists of multiple-choice questions, open questions and other questions compatible with the exam administration modality and/or short essays.

Assignments require class participation, as specified during the course.

The exam administration modality (i.e. online or with physical presence) depends on what is decided at that time by academic and health authorities. For exams with a physical presence no documentation is allowed, and only non-programmable calculators can be used. Different conditions may apply to online exams.

Retake

Exam:
Written 2h00 hours
Documentation:
Not allowed
Calculator:
Allowed with restrictions
Evaluation:

The retake exam lasts 2 hours. The final grade is based on the retake exam only and not on assignments.



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