MBA in Financial Services and Insurance

Interview with Kurt Verweire (Associate Professor & Partner, Vlerick Business School)

On 4 November, the new edition of the executive MBA in Financial Services and Insurance will start its first module, which will take place in Ghent. For the 8th time already, the MBA-FSI has brought together a group of high potentials working for various banks and insurance companies to engage in this challenging executive MBA programme. Not only will they explore different management domains and the particularities of the financial sector, they will also be exposed to six different financial services markets across the globe. Together with Programme Director Kurt Verweire, we'll explore what's new in this upcoming MBA-FSI edition.

Kurt Verweire: first of all, no MBA-FSI programme has ever been a copy of the previous edition. Needless to say, the financial and economic crisis that started in 2008 brought along a lot of challenges, but also opportunities for the sector, and these are of course also addressed. Through inviting executives and industry experts as guest speakers, we bring all these latest developments into the programme. Furthermore, by organising the programme in different financial markets, participants broaden their scope and learn to understand other cultures, the particularities of these markets and doing business internationally.  One could question whether it's still appropriate to visit all these places in times where a lot of banks and insurers are refocusing on their home markets, but we are truly convinced by the added value brought through this international dimension. That's why we've decided to host one of the modules of the upcoming edition in Mexico to explore the challenges of the Latin American market.

You indeed seem to be open to innovation, as you also decided to embrace the iPad to deliver the programme?

Kurt Verweire: indeed, this was a conscious choice that we made based on practical and pedagogical arguments. First of all, being a programme organised at six different locations worldwide always created a lot of logistical arrangements of which a large part can be simplified significantly by embracing this new technology. But, even more importantly, the iPad usage will open tremendous opportunities in terms of didactical innovation in the programme. E-learning can be integrated even further and more interactive courses and course materials can be developed, while the device also links to the wide array of examples and insights provided on the internet and through social media. And each participant will also carry the entire course and documentation on the tablet, accessible when and where needed!

That sounds great, but what's in there for the employer? After all, most MBA-FSI participants are company-sponsored?

Kurt Verweire: that's true. Besides a motivated employee who gained a lot of management tools and insights into the dynamics of different financial services markets, we also provide some very tangible added value. Through assignments and the final project, participants apply what they learned into their own business environment. This allows them to make improvements and generate valuable ideas to the benefits of the company. In every group we've seen people successfully taking on challenging projects during and after their MBA and doing extraordinary things that allowed the company to quickly regain the investment into the programme.

How does the first module, starting in November, look like?

Kurt Verweire: we address two core topics during these first 2 weeks of the programme: strategy and insurance management. The course on strategy brings an overview of the entire spectrum: from corporate governance, over business strategy to corporate strategy and strategic innovation. During these courses we use a lot of case studies, most of them from the financial sector. We also show some real cases by inviting a couple of company speakers, such as the CEOs of Bank J. Van Breda & Co. and Argenta. Two smaller players in the Belgian market, but with a very clear strategy which they’ve implemented successfully. Furthermore, we’ll also visit two companies: KBC and Interpolis, where we’ll get some further insights into the dynamics of a Belgian bank and a Dutch insurer. Insurance management, the second core topic, is tackled by means of the SOFIA insurance simulation. Participants will be divided into heterogeneous team that will each run their own insurer and compete with each other. The degree of difficulty increases throughout the rounds, as more elements and decisions are added to the simulation. Throughout the simulation participants will need to decide on their product portfolio, distribution mix, asset management, reinsurance, etc. It’s an intensive, but very rewarding experience as it allows you really to understand the different value drivers in the insurance business.

More info on MBA-FSI: www.mba-fsi.com!

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