Saturday, January 12, 2019

Why the new FINA 4931 – FinTech Topics course at Marquette University?

 Data Analytics Included Within the New FINA 4931: FinTech Topics Course Offered in the College of Business at Marquette 

Data analytics (or data science) is presently booming in the financial industry. More and more financial firms are introducing applied and machine learning systems to forecast markets and conduct non-traditional research. The demand for skilled analysts with data science skills is the area of growth within the industry.

The new course (FINA 4931: FinTech Topics) developed and taught this spring by Dr. David Krause, AIM program director at Marquette University, seeks to provide exposure to the new tools of the trade. Dr. Krause said, “I’m astounded by the explosion of big data into the area of fundamental financial research over the past year. Today’s finance majors need much greater data analysis skills, including data coding, wrangling, statistical analysis and presentation.”

The explosion of social media has produced vast amounts of unstructured data and text – and the ability of the research analyst to quickly tap into this huge trove of data is essential. While the concept of “big data” has over the last few years has grown, a sizable swell in interest and media attention has followed. Firms such as Cambridge Analytica, Facebook and Google (and other data and social media companies) are now under fire for their use and questionable sharing of the data collected about their users. U.S. political headlines about Russia’s alleged interference into the 2016 elections have raised awareness about the enormous impact big data can play on everyone’s lives – even those off the grid.

Krause continued, “Big data is definitely here to stay, and it grows with trillions of terabytes of new data produced daily. The ability to make sense of all this data and use it to understand what is happening to the demand for firms’ goods and services will become an integral part of the job of the investment analyst. It won't be a luxury for an analyst, it will be a necessity.”

The investment industry is seeking a new generation of trained data experts and financial analysts who are skilled in data science – and according to Krause, “There is a growing skills gap for trained big data experts and financial analysis. I expect data analytic-related jobs in the financial industry will be in high demand over the next several years due to the shortage of skilled candidates. Hopefully the AIM program will help to fill some of that gap.”

A degree in data analytics isn’t necessary; however, an understanding of the technical aspects of data mining, storage and cyber-security will be important. Knowing where data is located and how to access relevant bits of information from enormous unstructured databases in order to assist in analysis and making inform decisions is the future. 

Dr. Krause thinks that the topics covered within this unique course will eventually be incorporated within the curriculum of the Applied Investment Management program at Marquette University. “A degree in finance with strong data analytics abilities will set our students apart from others. Combining this ability with other important transferable skills, such as project management, critical-thinking and problem-solving will open up opportunities for our students."