Become More Agile with a Master of Finance Degree

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Global financial markets are volatile at all times, and finance professionals have no way of predicting when another foreign policy change, merger and acquisition or shift in monetary policy will disrupt their work. Not only must they present solutions to these unforeseeable developments, but those in the financial workplace must also have the agility to respond quickly.

A Master of Science in Finance degree can help professionals working in the financial industry gain the skills they need to increase their agility. With this education, they can enhance their ability to think fast while making critical, appropriate decisions.

Qualities of agile leaders

Agility stems from several traits that apply in any industry and contribute to a professional’s ability to work quickly and increase the speed of operations. The Agile Business Consortium grouped such facets into three concepts: communication, commitment and collaboration.

Communication: This tenet encompasses more than what leaders convey to their teams and other departments. It also denotes how they model strategies for innovation through hands-on involvement, think critically, and encourage and respond to feedback. Jim Vaselopulos of Rafti Advisors, Inc, a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, stated that receptiveness to feedback and learning from it allows leaders to increase their agility by adapting faster when responses dictate change.

Commitment: Agile leaders inspire others to take positions of authority. They offer their vision for innovation in a transparent manner so their direct reports and other company stakeholders share an understanding of purpose for their roles in growth. Fostering leadership also allows agile leaders to delegate more confidently and focus on other priorities. Lizabeth Czepiel of Lizabeth Czepiel, LLC, another Forbes Coaches Council member, said this approach gives employees an innovation mindset so they can see how they directly contribute to agility.

Collaboration: As noted in the commitment category, agile leaders must delegate. This ability coupled with the solicitation of feedback allows them to see and support ideas from all levels of their organizations. Such receptiveness can remove business silos that impact speed.

These traits apply to leadership at any kind of business, and the finance sector in particular has a demand for agile leaders who offer specific expertise.

The need for agility in finance

Among the skills needed for finance careers, agility is one of the most valuable. In addition to the sources of disruption noted above, technology has created a faster pace in the sector, according to a joint report from Oracle and the American Institute of CPAs. Cloud solutions have prompted a need for financial professionals who can lead their organizations to centralized services.

With this demand and others, the report noted that leaders in this space need certain skills:

  • Big data and analytics
  • Data visualization
  • Financial planning and analysis
  • Influencing
  • Business acumen and commercial awareness

While Oracle and the AICPA noted agile business leaders rate themselves well for the first four skills, these professionals have less confidence in the final one, with only 36 percent appraising their competency as “excellent.” Ivgen Guner, Oracle Senior Vice Pesident of Global Business Finance, said successful leaders improve such skills by working in different roles, including product marketing and accounting.

Adriano Regis, Managing Director of Finance and Risk Protection at Accenture, cited a similar need for skills diversity among CFOs. Their role has evolved beyond profit and loss statements, and they oversee responses to volatility and the aforementioned types of digital transformation. These leaders and others need to adapt to the changing industry so they can pivot in their day-to-day tasks. Continuing education is one way they can develop this expertise.

How an advanced degree addresses finance agility

Agile finance leaders understand data science and analysis that guide the field’s development, and they have the cross-functional mindset to promote organizational centralization with commercial awareness.

To help professionals command the skills required for finance today, a Master of Finance can provide the following:

Practice-oriented curriculum

Graduate finance programs can offer a balance of theory and practice to ensure students have functional strengths in the workplace. The experiential components incorporate the communication and collaboration traits necessary for all agile leaders via virtual channels, such as discussion boards, while the content can address industry-specific tenets of agility.

For instance, the Online Master of Finance program at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business includes a “Financial Strategy” course as part of its core. In this course, students learn about a number of subjects, including the types of analytical communications and technical innovations cited as crucial for agile leaders. The expected course outcome is that students will understand how to apply their knowledge to an organization’s strategies and capitalize on opportunities for improvement.

Among the electives, “Mergers and Acquisitions” can help students improve business acumen and commercial awareness. This course starts with the industry underpinnings of corporate combinations and then examines organization-specific factors, such as accounting and legal issues. By the end of the course, students can have functional knowledge to appraise and structure mergers.

Dual MBA opportunities

Finance professionals may also consider a dual finance and business administration master’s degree. This educational path can offer the experiential diversity Guner and Regis noted as common among agile leaders. In addition to an investment or corporate finance concentration, dual-degree students expand their understanding of business enterprise, economic influences and more.

Become a more agile leader at Northeastern University

Agile leadership requires a combination of general professional competency and business-specific acumen. An online Master of Science in Finance from the D’Amore-McKim School of Business can provide students will the tools to collaborate with business leaders and guide organizations and teams to address financial challenges.

As the rise of technology in the finance sector increases demand for agile leaders, you can gain the knowledge to differentiate yourself in the job market and quickly provide solutions to the issues of the shifting industry. To learn more about how the Online MSF program
can help you achieve this outcome, contact an enrollment advisor today.

Recommended Readings:
Innovation in Finance with Professor Robert Mooradian

What the future of finance may look like

Culture and Leadership: The Nine Principles of Agile Leadership by the Agile Business Consortium

What does it mean to be an agile leader? by Forbes Coaches Council

Agile Finance Revealed: The New Operating Model for Modern Finance by Oracle and the American Institute of CPAs

Today’s CFO: Driving Finance Talent with Agility by Accenture

Northeastern University Masters in Finance – Curriculum

Northeastern University – Course Catalog

Northeastern University’s Online MSF Program