MBA in Financial Services and Insurance allows participants to become familiar with Singapore as the financial heart of Asia for the first time

The Executive MBA in Financial Services and Insurance is a specialised MBA course for high potentials from the banking, insurance and investment sector. The course runs over 18 months, with participants taking six two-week modules, each allowing them to familiarise themselves with a different financial market of global importance. In addition to traditional modules in Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and China the 24 current participants have for the first time been immersed in Singapore as the financial heart of Asia. In line with tradition, the final module in May will end in the USA, more specifically New York and Boston.

Programme manager Jonathan De Grande explains why Singapore is so interesting for the participants. “Singapore is a highly international financial centre and in terms of location the country forms a central base for the whole Asian market. In addition, many global players in the banking and insurance sector are active in this market. Throughout the entire programme, we want our participants to experience very different financial markets. What exactly is the sector like in each of the guest countries? What is the impact on players who operate in multiple markets? And what are the most important challenges for a manager within a specific market?”

For Dimitri Van Eenoo (Head of Compliance, Operational Risk and Internal Control at AG Insurance) this initial familiarisation with Singapore was nothing but impressive: “Singapore is a melting pot between the old world and the emerging economies. Right next to a traditional colonial building you might see imposing skyscrapers that are witness to Singapore’s importance as a financial centre. You can feel the dynamism and the commercial relationship between people. Trade in the broadest sense of the word is central here. It is a bustling city where, without a doubt, as a Western expat you feel that you could thrive perfectly well.

Ernst Jansen (Director of the Loan, Savings & Payments Service Centre at F. Van Lanschot Bankiers) is equally positive: “The country is exceptionally small with a lot of inhabitants relatively speaking, it is very clean and well developed in every aspect. That is particularly true of the infrastructure and visible prosperity. With its global port and large airport, the country is also an important 'hub' which is very good for the economy. It is a combination of Western development and strong growth in the East with a great mix of cultures.

Alongside his initial impressions, Dimitri also learned a lot of lessons which he will take home with him: “Despite the ascent of countries such as India, China, Malaysia and Thailand, Singapore successfully remains a sovereign state which is very important for the region which has an exceptionally high standard of living although it has no natural resources. They still have a leading global port and one of the biggest financial centres in the world. The visit to Singapore underpinned my belief that the strongest economic developments will take place in this part of the world. On the other hand, it remains to be seen whether this growth can be sustained.

Ernst agrees that the country has seen enormous growth since his previous visit in 2008, despite the period of crisis. “It is very interesting to see how Singapore is continuing to develop like the Switzerland of Asia. Rich Asians primarily bank here and in light of the expected growth figures it is 'the place to be' as a private bank/asset manager. Singapore has become even more important as an international financial centre in recent years, one result of which is the enormous financial district where all the international insurance companies, asset managers and banks can be found.

Varied 14-day programme

In addition to traditional lessons, via case studies, business simulations, guest speakers from the sector and company visits, the MBA in Financial Services and Insurance ensures an intense learning experience and practical, usable management insights. It was just the same in Singapore. Specific management topics are dealt with in every module. These two weeks were spent primarily working on areas of operational excellence, service management, customer service, and IT & digital strategy within the banking and insurance sector. Singapore is one of Asia’s frontrunners in mobile (banking) developments in particular. Inspirational guest locations such as the Swiss Club, the National University Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Management University (SMU) where the Fleming Arnoud De Meyer is the Dean, provided the stage for the traditional lessons and guest speakers. The theory was tested in practice during company visits to Allianz Asia Pacific, ABN Amro and Mahindra Satyam, an Indian IT company. Finally, networking also forms an important part of the experience. There was plenty of time for that during an event to which alumni of Vlerick and the partner schools St. Gallen and HEC were also invited.

The new edition of the MBA in Financial Services and Insurance will start in October 2014. For more information, please attend the information session on 20 March at the Vlerick campus in Brussels.


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