It is easy to speak of “new normal” these days, it is the trend topic of the moment, the focus of public debate after a global event that has rapidly disrupted our habits and certainties. Not so easy at all is the task of drawing a precise outline of this new normality: for months seen as a promised land, longed for and unknown, it now needs to be “inhabited”. This means being able to capitalize on your existing knowledge and practical experience and, based on that, think and plan the changes for the next future. Each of us in their own area of expertise.
Finance is no exception. But there’s a difference (that actually becomes an advantage): in the financial world, the “new normal” is not a consequence of Covid-19 and of the lockdown but it started ten years ago, when the Great Recession of 2008 mandated to radically rethink its functioning and its role in the face of economy and society. Finance has already treasured the lessons of a previous traumatic event and started a renewal that the pandemic has only accelerated.
Building competences in finance has one extra responsibility: it has to pioneer orienting this change towards “common good” and fill this expression with meaning: support for the real economy, attention to all the stakeholders, sustainability and creation of lasting value. Introducing the fifth edition of the Executive Master in Finance – EMF, Academic Director Andrea Beltratti pointed out that “in a period when individuals and companies need to be able to look far ahead, more than ever, EMF offers a new strategic approach to finance, as a dimension which is not an end in itself but finds its real value in being an instrument for growth”.
Finance can and should sit full-fledged among company strategies. It poses limits and challenges to strategy, supports companies in difficult choices and helps them expand their possibilities, but finance also needs to bring entrepreneurial action back into the area of responsible feasibility. That is why EMF 2021 is devoting a specific research and teaching area to strategy, i.e. its Strategic Finance Lab, led by Claudio Scardovi, MD and Global Co-Head of Financial Services Consulting Industry at AlixPartners, who will be cooperating with Laura Maida, Chief of Strategy at Intesa Sanpaolo, Andrea Maffezzoni, Head of Strategy and M&A at Unicredit, Carlo Nardello, Chief of Strategy at TIM, and Bruno Scaroni, Chief of Strategy at Generali insurance company. The 10-sessions team-work lab is going to prepare participants for the following “strategy/transformation” processes in the Master’s four specialty tracks. “It is an important development bringing attention back onto the real DNA of finance, conceived as an essential tool to support and interpret corporate decisions”, says EMF’s Program Director Alessia Bezzecchi.
And strategy also calls for sustainability and leadership in the field of finance. The first represents the “ethical” horizon, an unavoidable assumption of responsibility for environmental, economical and social externalities. On the other hand, aware and effective leadership with a global vision is a condition to channel strategy in this direction. That is why the new edition of EMF is introducing specific learning opportunities such as the Leadership and Negotiation Labs, and the CFO Series, that will host top-notch figures.
EMF is giving ever increasing attention to the four Specialty Tracks (Asset and Wealth Management, Banking, Corporate Finance, Real Estate), designed to go in deep into the participants’ interest area. In the next edition, these Tracks are going to include new important courses, such as “Project and Infrastructure Finance”, elective for the Asset/Wealth Management Track, and “Customer Centricity – Private and Corporate Banking”, for the Banking Transformation Track, as well as the new “Business simulation in Applied Private Equity”, held by professor Stefano Caselli for the Corporate Finance & Control Track.
All this already implies an incoming result: for future leaders in the financial sector new normal should first of all be a “new normal learning model”, a new approach to education that is also a “new hybrid learning model”, i.e. the possibility to attend courses also online in synchronous mode. It has been a successful experience gained “forcibly” during EMF4 with a “blended” formula – partly on campus and partly on an e-learning platform – and now capitalized and fine-tuned. But the new learning model has above all new goals: to provide participants with an ever expanding and articulated set of specialized competencies and soft skills, and a new awareness about their own role, as well as “the ability to ‘connect the dots’ and learn continuously”, as Bruno Scardovi summed up at the end of the meeting. Confirming that, especially in discontinuity phases like the one we are experiencing, the real value added, in finance like in many more industries, is created by human capital.
SDA Bocconi School of Management