New Grad Program Fills Growing Need for Managing Financial Risk
Dr. Robert Kieschnick
Dr. Robert Kieschnick, an associate professor of finance in the Naveen Jindal School of Management, often looks at risk from a company vantage point — surveying bottom lines and future prospects — or in industry terms — seeing immediate opportunities weighed against long-term hazards or gains looming in the economy.
Now, he is pouring his expertise in these areas into a new degree program — a Master of Science in Financial Engineering and Risk Management. Its graduates will be well-prepared to assess, manage and mitigate risk for a variety of employers.
“Risk is unavoidable,” Kieschnick said. “The question becomes what risks should you take, what risks should you mitigate and, if so, how?”
The 36-credit hour, two-year cohort program, which debuts this fall, will provide students with the practical and theoretical knowledge needed to pursue careers in quantitative finance. They will learn the quantitative skills necessary to analyze financial information, engineer financial products and manage risks in any business enterprise. Each graduate will have some programming skills, modeling skills and the ability to apply them to both financial data analysis and risk mitigation.
“There are a variety of graduate financial engineering programs out there, each with slightly different goals,” Kieschnick said. “Some of them focus on the math; others focus on the computations. We see our program as the sweet spot of that spectrum in terms of teaching people how to apply math, analyze data and manage risk. We emphasize teaching quantitative skills and applying them to business decisions.”
“The reason that people with undergraduate degrees and a background in math and statistics get such high starting salaries is because of their ability to think clearly and logically about problems. Learning how to apply those skills, which our program does, really fills a market need.”
The program will help students identify internships and jobs, which come not only from insurance and banking, but also from virtually every business sector.
“Every company faces risk,” Kieschnick said. “Each sector has a slightly different set of risks they’re trying to assess and manage. Our focus is on not only preparing our students to be able to work across all sectors, but to find jobs in the sectors that interest them.”
Graduates of the program will be able to find careers in insurance and banking, as well as any business that requires financial data analytics, financial and enterprise risk management, cyber risk management.
“Builder’s FirstSource, ExxonMobil, Comerica — all of these companies face risk,” Kieschnick said. “It’s just that the nature of the risk varies by the type of activity.”
A base of quantitative skills will be required to ensure success in the program. Before acceptance, students will need to have taken, at a minimum, calculus, linear algebra, probability statistics and programming.
Kieschnick is looking for a cohort size of about 40 to 50 students. The program is accepting applications.
“If you go into the more analytical aspects of finance, you need to know how to analyze data, model financial problems and make decisions,” he said. “The reason that people with undergraduate degrees and a background in math and statistics get such high starting salaries is because of their ability to think clearly and logically about problems. Learning how to apply those skills, which our program does, really fills a market need.”
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