Last Friday, Barcelona GSE students attended the year’s first Financial Institutions Seminar. In this seminar series, top professionals from the finance industry come to the Barcelona GSE campus to share their knowledge and insights with students in a small group setting. Barcelona GSE Master in Finance director Prof. Xavier Freixas organizes the seminars, which are popular with students from all of the GSE’s master programs and provide a practical counterpoint to the classroom experience.
Friday’s seminar was presented by Dr. Lorenzo Isla, who is responsible for the Structured Credit and Credit Derivatives business at BBVA. Dr. Isla presented a state-of-the-industry look at the new financial landscape. Among the topics he covered was the growing industry-wide focus on risk management and regulation (both topics covered in the Master in Finance and other Barcelona GSE master programs). He advised students that while current policies aim to facilitate economic recovery, the industry will soon need to adapt to policies such as the new Basel Accord, which will target systemic risk and stronger market discipline.
Students were eager to know how these changes would shape the job market in finance and banking. Dr. Isla discussed possible career options for “quants” – pure or applied mathematicians – who design and implement mathematical models for the pricing of derivatives, assessment of risk, or predicting market movements.
Dr. Isla stressed that employers value a strong educational background in Finance, Economics, and related fields for these positions, which also require superior analytical and technical skills, as well as the ability to generate and carry out creative research.
“People with quantitative skills can learn through the work experience alone,” Dr. stated in his presentation. “However, prior financial education or industry experience is helpful from a competitive perspective and is becoming increasingly so.”
Employers hiring individuals with advanced education in finance include commercial banks, hedge funds, software companies, and corporate treasurers, among others. Even so, Dr. Isla reminded students that in finance, change is the norm, and that market conditions and opportunities change rapidly. He advised them to seek out mentors and to network relentlessly in order to stay on top of trends and opportunities in the financial job market.
Dr. Lorenzo Isla answered questions during the Financial Institutions Seminar on Friday. In addition to MSc in Finance students, students in the MSc in Competition and Market Regulation also seized the opportunity to join the discussion.
Two more Financial Institutions Seminars are already scheduled for the winter term. They are:
15/01/10 Drago Indjic, Quantitative Investment Manager and Technologist Investment Manager at Blue White Alternative Investments and Project Manager at Hedge Fund Centre, London Business School. Major projects in 2009 include continuing using the best industry software platform for cleaning hedge fund data bases at London Business School and participation in algorithmic trading “arms race."
12/02/10 Antoni Sureda, Credit Risk Modeler at la Caixa. In the past he has held positions at Banc Sabadell and the European Investment Bank. He earned his PhD in Finance at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, where he taught several finance courses. His main research interests are financial regulation, corporate control, risk management, asset pricing, and asset management.
About Dr. Lorenzo Isla
Responsible for the Structured Credit and Credit Derivatives business at BBVA.
Ran CDO/structured credit research and strategy efforts at Barclays Capital and Lehman Brothers International in London (2001-2007)
- Lecturer at Harvard University (1996 to 2001
- PanAgora AM (Boston based hedge fund)
- PhD in Financial Economics (Harvard University)