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Fintech Revolution - Finance Professionals Rushing To Take Courses As Career Hedge

Fintech, blockchain and A.I. are revolutionising the banking industry and have the potential to replace a significant percentage of the human capital, eliminating a chunk of their cost bases. Last month, former Citi CEO, Vikram Pandit, was particularly pessimistic, claiming that 30% of jobs could be lost in the next five years.

As CNBC reports, finance professionals, especially “more experienced” ones, are acutely aware of the risk and are rushing to educate themselves via online learning.

Financial professionals are taking online financial technology (fintech) courses to fend off competition and stay ahead of disruption. The boost in uptake is due in part to a feeling among those in the industry that financial technology has reached a turning point in its evolution. A report from Citigroup in 2016 caused widespread debate when it estimated that between 2 million and 6 million jobs would be lost in banking across the U.S. and Europe over the next 10 years. That was attributed to both automation and artificial intelligence (AI), innovation and the rise of more efficient and less cost-intensive challenger banks. Santander's fintech-focused venture capital fund, Santander InnoVentures, estimates cost savings for banks that implement blockchain technology as high as $20 billion per year by 2022.

Blue chip educational establishments launching new courses and corporate M&A are features of this growth market.

Highly-regarded educational institutions are also being forced to innovate and provide the resources to the financial industry to up-skill and stay ahead of an ever-steepening curve. The likes of Oxford University, Princeton and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) now all offer online courses aimed at busy and high-level banking executives. According to a report from e-learning software provider Docebo, online education in general is set to grow by 5 percent over the next decade and generate over $240 billion by 2023. LinkedIn also joined the sector as early as 2015, buying online education firm Lynda for $1.5 billion. Lynda has finance and technology courses, including ones that aim to help business executives implement tech into their firm…

GetSmarter was acquired by American education technology giant 2U for over $100 million in July as it looks to join the non-degree focused line of online course offerings. The Nasdaq-listed 2U has had a good 2017 itself after posting a year-on-year increase of 32 percent on its top line in the second quarter. The company's stock is up over 110 percent year-to-date and it is scheduled to report third-quarter figures on November 7.

Oxford University’s new course is attracting seasoned pros and executives from the world’s biggest banks.

GetSmarter has capitalized on the uptrend and is the software and online campus provider for the Said Business School at Oxford University's new online fintech course. At the time of the program's mid-October start date, nearly 1,000 people from across 71 countries had enrolled, with the U.K. accounting for a third of sign-ups. Here's where the numbers get interesting. About three-quarters of participants are currently working in financial services, with half having more than 15 years' experience in the industry. Over half the students are company leaders, with many listing job titles such as managing director. And a large proportion are employed by the world's biggest banks, including Bank of America, Barclays, CitiBank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Standard Chartered and UBS. Peter Tufano, dean at Oxford's Said Business School, told CNBC:

"Fintech is an exciting, fast-moving and important phenomena. By collaborating with partners from around the world, practitioners in all the major financial sectors, and GetSmarter, we are able to offer something that is up-to-date and useful to not just our program participants, but the world."

Another major financial hub, Singapore, is targeting a more constructive approach to the fintech revolution. According to The Straits Times, a road map to transform the financial services industry is targeting the creation of 3,000 net jobs annually, with another 1,000 in fintech alone.

The industry transformation (ITM) also aims to achieve growth in financial sector real value-added of 4.3 per cent and productivity of 2.4 per cent annually, faster than the overall economy. At the same time, banks and financial institutions have to do more to retrain workers whose jobs are affected by disruptive changes in the finance industry and match them to new jobs, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Monday (Oct 30). Speaking at the launch of the financial services ITM, Mr Ong noted that the most important aspect of any transformation plan lies in people. However, he noted, when an existing activity is disrupted and jobs become at risk, the tendency is to lay off staff.

 

"But this cannot be the solution of first resort," he said. "For professionals who have honed their craft over many years, a large part of what they already know can be reapplied within the financial services sector or in other adjacent sectors."

 

Without addressing the concerns of those affected by change, there can be no change, and by extension, no innovation, he added. And so the Monetary Authority of Singapore will work with key financial institutions to make a strong push in implementing Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) to help their staff move into new jobs, including in growth areas such as technology and compliance.

There is an online forum for students participating in Oxford University’s new fintech course. Courtesy of CNBC’s report, we know their favourite topic of conversation…

 An online student forum for a course from Oxford University showed that the main topic of conversation was cryptocurrency bedfellows, bitcoin, and ether.

…which is unlikely to change while the cryptocurrency bull market continues.