Financial services professionals must embrace the latest technologies and techniques in asset management if they are to remain relevant.
With this in mind, the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Business School offers a week-long intensive programme to help portfolio managers and analysts upgrade their skills.
Its Graduate Certificate in Applied Portfolio Management, known as the g-CAPM, is an executive education programme covering state-of-the-art approaches to financial and portfolio management.
Professor Joseph Cherian at NUS Business School, says “It is a continuing education programme for finance professionals to upgrade their skills and learn about the latest techniques, technologies and applications in financial asset management.”
“We cover a whole range of topics, from equities to fixed income, to macro to commodities, to big data.”
The g-CAPM is aimed at finance professionals, particularly portfolio managers and analysts, working for asset managers and asset owners, such as sovereign wealth and pension funds.
While the programme is designed for those with existing experience, it can also be used by people who want to move from a middle or back office functions into a front office role, as long as they already have some knowledge of the subject, such as through taking a Chartered Financial Analyst programme by the CFA Institute or the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst programme by the CAIA Association.
“We can take such people who are interested in going into front office functions and, moving very quickly over seven intensive days, they can learn the key skills. It gives them all the necessary tools and information and materials they need to get to that stage,” Dr Cherian says.
The programme not only looks at the latest quantitative techniques involved in factor investing and how to apply them, but it also considers fundamental, behavioural and model-based approaches to investing.
“We are agnostic. What we try to do is marry the tools together,” Prof Cherian says.
On the credit side, it covers the factors that drive interest rates securities and currencies, as well as looking at the latest techniques, instruments, derivatives and analytics in the fixed income and currency space.
The programme also covers market liquidity, as well as considering current issues in the global economy which impact portfolio management, such as the ongoing US-China trade tensions. The programme has a strong emphasis on investing in Asia.
“We tend to focus on the impact of all the latest goings on at the macro level on Asia, particularly in the asset management and investment space,” Dr Cherian explains.
The impact new technology and computing techniques, such as big data, are having on the asset management industry is also covered.
Prof Cherian points out that disruption is happening at a very rapid pace in the financial sector.
As a result, he thinks it is important that professionals from financial backgrounds update their skills so that they can work with people from computer science backgrounds to develop meaningful products and solutions for investors.
“My personal worry is that we have all these well-intentioned but poorly-trained technology jocks “disrupting” this space without a full understanding of finance, customisation, client needs, risk aversion, regulation, fiduciary responsibility and all the things that are very important in the financial services sector.”
“My view is that it would be great if we could train traditional finance professionals to get them up to speed on the latest techniques, and then they go and work closely with the well-intentioned technology jocks. That would be the ideal model.”
Teaching takes place in the CAMRI Investment Management & Trading Lab, which is the most advanced in the world, and gives students access to financial workstations with Bloomberg live feeds, live financial data tickers and MSCI-Barra investment and risk management software to stimulate the real-world environment.
Dr Cherian says: “It is a live experiential learning environment, so it is as if you are working in your office at your Bloomberg station doing the simulations, analysis and analytics.
“Academic knowledge and theory are important, but you also need to be able to translate that research to financial markets and implement then as meaningful products, solutions and risk management techniques.”
g-CAPM participants come from a wide range of mainly Asian and Middle Eastern countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, China, Indonesia and Japan, as well as Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait, while some students are from further afield, such as those working in financial technology in Silicon Valley.
The programme is intensive, taking place over seven days. But Prof Cherian points out that the intense learning experience is also a great networking opportunity.
“The whole group becomes good friends, and, because people enjoy the programme so much, they keep in touch. You meet a lot of like-minded people in the asset management or asset owners arena from all over the world. It is a good programme from an alumni network point of view,” he says.
The Applied Portfolio Management Programme is run once a year. The next course will take place between 18 November to 24 November 2019.