By Jonathan Pfeffer
If Financial Technology—FinTech—was the cog that dismantled an ineffectual machine 5-to-10 years ago, now it’s become the new machine.
“FinTech is one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. Five financial functions are being disrupted—payments, how money is transferred, markets, insurance and capital allocation,” NYU Stern clinical associate professor of finance Kathleen DeRose explains.
FinTech applications that leverage data and mobile technologies to enhance or streamline financial services have transformed the way companies engage consumers. This year’s breakout tech success is FinTech startup Stripe, whose PayPal-like platform is designed for businesses who regularly have to manage large transactions—like Amazon, Facebook, and Lyft.
Even conventional banks and insurers like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup have jumped on the FinTech bandwagon, investing or integrating FinTech into their operations.
If your work future involves FinTech, then you’re practically guaranteed exponential growth.
Here’s the five best US business schools for careers in FinTech:
1. USC Marshall
USC Marshall has carved out a niche for itself as a program that emphasizes disruptive innovation, which makes sense why it’s such a hotbed for FinTech.
“USC Marshall recognized early the significance of FinTech as a rapidly evolving industry in the Los Angeles community and launched several initiatives intended to bring Marshall to the forefront of the FinTech revolution,” says Mark Brostoff, the school’s assistant dean.
In addition to the USC FinTech Summit and the popular Entrepreneur Venture Management Association student club, Marshall also offered the very first FinTech course in the US –‘The Fintech Revolution: Disrupting Traditional Finance.’
2. Berkeley Haas
Located between Silicon Valley’s tech mecca and San Francisco’s finance hub makes Berkeley Haas a highly sought-after spot for MBAs looking to specialize in FinTech. Berkeley Haas Finance Group’s executive director of strategic programs Bill Rindfuss talks of the unique opportunities the school affords its MBAs:
“Students can access world-class FinTech practitioners as guest speakers in our courses, and to FinTech startups hungry for smart and ambitious part-time interns during the semester,” he says.
While the school’s proximity to industry is certainly one of Haas’ strengths, Blockchain@Berkeley and the FinTech club are two prime examples of its many in-house industry resources.
3. MIT Sloan
MIT Sloan remains well positioned to lead the FinTech charge thanks to its deep roots in finance, technology, and entrepreneurship. The school attracts students who are interested in using finance and technology to solve important challenges in the world.
Heidi Pickett, program director of the school’s Master of Finance program (MFIN) says: “[We have] built a dynamic network that includes many industry leaders who have been and are at the forefront of FinTech. In line with our learning philosophy of putting theory into practice, we are able to compliment teaching students the necessary foundations in finance with the insights of industry leaders who know and practice in this evolving space.”
4. NYU Stern
NYU Stern’s FinTech specialization addresses data as a truly interdisciplinary space—one where students can access business leaders on the forefront of technology adaptation. FinTech MBA specialization academic director David Yermack explains that the specialization was driven by the unanticipated and explosive growth that followed an industry-wide merger between finance and information systems.
“Jobs started to change at the big banks, which became increasingly interested in people graduating with skills in big data,” he explains. “AI and machine learning are changing the profile of finance jobs and the nature of work, [which] will increasingly focus on programming these machines and pointing them to the right data, and working on hardware and software updates.
“In five to 10 years, every student who wants to build a finance career will need to study this material.”
5. Duke Fuqua
Fuqua has opened its curriculum to address growing student interest in FinTech. Senior associate dean Russ Morgan explains that issues surrounding blockchain technology have wormed their way into the existing classes and co-curricular experiences, as well as new courses like Professor Cam Harvey’s innovation and cryptoventures course which focuses on the business applications beyond the currency of bitcoin.
Russ explains: “We feel it’s important that students learn directly from leaders in industry. Cam was at the forefront of identifying the benefit of blockchain and is continually sought-after by companies trying to better understand the opportunities.”