Experiential Learning in Business School Finance Programs

Experiential Learning in Business School Finance Programs

While finance has long been studied in business schools, in recent years we have seen a rise in experiential methods of teaching the subject.

Finance has been a subject long studied within the business school, yet in the past few years we have seen a rise in new, experiential methods of teaching the subject. Having students work directly with an actual investment portfolio managed by the school is just one of the methods being used within business schools to prepare students to confidently and vigorously enter the workforce upon graduation. When AACSB ran its Innovations That Inspire campaign last winter, we were impressed by the number of varied, experiential methods being employed within the classroom to deliver content in entirely new formats. Whether it involves an interesting new student project or an outreach initiative, business schools are adapting their programs to fit the changing times in really inspiring ways. The following are three examples of innovations occurring at business schools with a finance focus.

The Frontier Market Scouts Program

Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Graduate School of International Policy & Management (United States)

The Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) program trains and promotes purpose-driven, impact-fueled students and professionals for careers in social enterprise management and responsible investing. The program provides intensive two-week certificate trainings that prepare participants for careers in impact investing and social venture management. The training curriculum combines lectures, co-creative projects, and experiential learning facilitated by social entrepreneurs and investors. After training, participants have the opportunity to become candidates for a competitive two- to 12-month fellowship in global hotspots for social enterprise.

Originally launched in January 2011, FMS began as a three-week, six-credit module training program offered to 20 students. Ten of these scouts then proceeded on to six-month fellowship placements with partner organizations in India, Nigeria, Vietnam, and Tanzania. Since 2011, the program has trained over 300 professionals and served more than 100 different social enterprises in 20 different countries around the world. Trainings have been offered in Monterey, California; Amsterdam; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Washington, D.C.; and plans are underway to expand to Kenya. FMS received a 2013 Cordes Innovation Award from AshokaU. In 2015, FMS became the flagship program of the newly launched Center for Social Impact Learning at the Middlebury Institute.

Burkenroad Reports

Tulane University, A.B. Freeman School of Business (United States)

Burkenroad Reports is an immersive learning course that turns Tulane students into equity research analysts covering small-capitalization companies overlooked by research firms. Burkenroad Report’s objective is to prepare students for challenges faced as professional employees in the real world, and to provide students with the skills and knowledge to be extremely competitive in the job market. Teams of four or five students are created and assigned to any one of 40 publicly traded companies under coverage in the Burkenroad Reports program. The student analysts work with a committed group of professors to produce a three-statement financial model, which includes an equity valuation and a supporting analyst research report. Written deliverables produced by students are designed to mimic key topics researched by equity research analysts, and to ensure the students are exposed to as many business applications and research sources as possible. The published reports are mailed to thousands of investors, analysts, and executives. The course culminates in an annual conference held each spring attended by hundreds. Students have the opportunity to network with and introduce executive speakers from the companies they covered to on-site investors.

The student research is also used to fuel the Hancock Horizon Burkenroad Small-Cap Fund (HYBUX), which has nearly 800 million USD under management. Students also make site visits to meet company executives, which provides additional hands-on experience that consistently catapults Burkenroad alumni to successful Wall Street careers. Burkenroad Reports is unique in that the program integrates all these topics and throws in rapidly changing market environments, competing team personalities, and evolving company standards and expectations. The next step for the course is to incorporate professional designations such as the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst).

The Baylor Angel Network (BAN)

Baylor University, Hankamer School of Business (United States)

The Baylor Angel Network (BAN) is a seed and early-stage investor network for friends and family of Baylor University and the Hankamer School of Business (HSB). It was developed to provide a framework for connecting entrepreneurs with investors who prioritize involving students in internships. The network connects entrepreneurs with potential investors, and it also serves as a fundraising tool for the business school. BAN represents not only innovation in investing but innovation in relationships with alumni and in the learning models employed in the HSB’s academic program.

Junior business students are recruited from the HSB to serve as analysts. The analysts serve a one-year term during their senior year and carry out the day-to-day operations of the network. These highly inspired and talented analysts receive a real-life education on the inner workings of angel investing. Every fall, Baylor selects four to six junior students to serve a semester-long apprenticeship, coordinating with the senior students to help run the program. The main purpose of this apprentice program is to help the junior analysts transition smoothly into their positions as senior analysts. As seniors, student analysts have the opportunity to gain six hours of course credit for the internship over a one-year commitment. Since fall of 2008, BAN has been a function of Baylor Entrepreneurship that facilitates the engagement between angel investors and early-stage companies while providing real-life educational opportunities for student analysts and fellows. BAN has grown to include more than 55 angels and to date has invested more the 9 million USD in startups. These angels pay an annual fee to gain access to quality investment opportunities.

About Innovations That Inspire

These examples are part of a larger collection of Innovations That Inspire. From October 15 through November 20, 2015, AACSB member schools were invited to share ways in which they have challenged the status quo. Nearly 300 innovations were submitted from more than 200 institutions across 35 countries—an array of inspirations that illustrates an impressive commitment to engagement, innovation, and impact. Thirty of these innovations were initially highlighted at the 2016 Deans Conference and are currently available for public browsing.