Business School Briefing: Top Masters in Finance degrees and Amazon attrition

Welcome to Business School Briefing. We offer you insights from Andrew Hill and Jonathan Moules, and the pick of top stories being read in business schools. Edited by Wai Kwen Chan and Andrew Jack.


FT Masters in Finance rankings of 2021: the results are out

Following a surge in demand for Masters in Finance courses, HEC Paris and London Business school top the Financial Times 2021 rankings for these degrees.

Find out which providers are in our ranking of post-experience courses, for finance professionals, and pre-experience degrees, for those who are new to the field. French business schools are leading the field in the latter table.

Also, learn how the tables were compiled and read the rest of our coverage.

Winners of sustainable finance teaching awards

Diane-Laure Arjaliès, an assistant professor at the Ivey Business School at Western University in Canada, has won the 2021 teaching recognition award for overall excellence in sustainable finance education — jointly awarded by the Financial Times and the Impact and Sustainable Finance Faculty Consortium.

Eight others won individual categories on syllabi and teaching materials.

Andrew Hill’s Management Challenge

Influencing who stays at your company, and for how long, and who goes, but also how they leave, is an important skill. This week, I’ve compared the differences between how PwC and Amazon handle the challenge of “attrition management”. To use the late Douglas McGregor’s categories, Amazon is a Theory X manager, placing all the emphasis on productivity rather than staff loyalty, and PwC takes more of a Theory Y approach, cajoling its recruits towards mutually beneficial goals.

My hunch is that in tight labour markets Amazon should shift towards Theory Y, encouraging staff to stick around longer. In fact, there is evidence it may be starting to do just that. But, as the New York Times has reported, founder Jeff Bezos is wary of setting the ecommerce group’s warehouse staff on a “march to mediocrity” by making them too comfortable. What are the one or two steps he should take to make staff turnover more manageable, without losing the “Day One” spirit he has fostered at Amazon? Send your answers to my management challenge to [email protected].

Last week, I asked what you would ask acquirers to reveal, five years after takeover, to show how well the company they had bought was performing. Respondents were near-unanimous on one question, framed here by Karen Thomas-Bland: “Did you create an organisational culture able to attract and retain top talent and key leaders?” Jacques Neatby explains that “one can assume much of the value created by the acquisition comes from the acquired company’s staff” and, conversely, is lost if they leave.

In further reading, The Economist’s Bartleby column highlights research into the late David Graeber’s thesis on meaningless jobs. A new study reveals “why the bullshit-jobs thesis may be, well, bullshit”, as Bartleby puts it in a graphic headline.

Jonathan Moules’ business school news

You have my sympathies if, after 15 months of Covid-19 pandemic, you feel zoomed out by online meetings and long for the days when studying meant going to a physical campus for lessons. However, the health crisis was only an accelerator of an existing trend towards greater remote teaching on screens. This week Dublin’s Trinity Business School announced its first flexible Executive MBA, delivered 80 per cent online and 20 per cent on campus, where students will be taught in the school’s recently opened multimedia lecture theatre, called The Matrix (not to be confused with the film). Expect more announcements like this from other business schools.

Another trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic is the growth of the domestic Chinese business education market, with more Chinese nationals choosing to study close to home because of the difficulties of international travel. France’s Audencia Business School has signed a partnership with the supply chain integration business Wuchan Zhongda to teach a Master of Science (MSc) in Innovation Management programme to its senior management, with some teaching delivered remotely from Audencia’s Nantes campus as well as in the company’s offices in Hangzhou near Shanghai.

Finally, we have another ongoing trend, the attempts to improve diversity through business education. The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has announced its involvement as a teaching institution in AltFinance, a $90m initiative to support students from historically black universities and colleges in the US gain additional training and support to enter careers in the alternative finance sector. The 10-year programme was co-founded and funded by asset management firm Apollo Global Management alongside investment management firms Ares Management Corporation and Oaktree Capital Management.

Positive Impact Rating for Business Schools

Four business schools from India and one from Kosovo topped the second Positive Impact rating of 8,800 students who were asked how far their business schools fostered sustainability and societal benefit.

What the students say

Data line

There are many reasons to study for a Masters in Finance degree. To gain better career opportunities followed by to improve earnings potential and acquiring specialised skills remain the most popular motivators, say Leo Cremonezi and Sam Stephens.

Female alumni were highly motivated by personal development compared to male colleagues.

Bar chart of Percentage of alumni that rate 10 out 10 for certain reasons to start their MiF, split by gender showing The reasons behind studying for a Masters in Finance

These findings came from alumni who were surveyed for the FT Masters in Finance 2021 rankings.

Top business school reads

EU freezes 10 banks out of bond sales over antitrust breaches Big names involved in past market-rigging scandals barred from lucrative recovery plan

Cummings reveals Johnson messages calling Hancock’s efforts ‘hopeless’ Former top adviser publishes WhatsApp missives showing PM considered sacking UK health secretary

PwC to boost headcount by 100,000 over five years Big Four audit firm’s $12bn investment targets booming market in ESG advice

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