Dr Gbenga Ibikunle bursts the bubble of tech evangelists, and argues for a more rounded approach to Financial Technology education.

The skills needed for a successful career in finance are more diverse than ever before.

Decades of technological advancements and new regulations have altered how financial services are delivered. Financial markets are much more complex – algorithms, rather than humans, execute the majority of trades. Meanwhile, sophisticated models determine everything from access to credit to how financial service firms interact with consumers.

Companies looking to take advantage of the growing availability of data demand increasing levels of technological expertise from new recruits. The ability to write code is as sought after as in-depth knowledge of economics.

But the supply of workers capable of both has not kept up with this demand. There is now a major skills shortage – particularly for the rapidly growing FinTech sector. The finance industry shoulders a major burden in addressing this and so do universities.

Developed after intensive consultation between world-leading researchers and global industry leaders, our new MSc in Finance, Technology and Policy (FTP) tackles the intersection of the three important drivers of the modern economy: finance, technology and regulation.

The programme applies the core principles of financial economics and economic sociology with practical expertise in programming, machine learning and big data analysis. Students also have the opportunity to apply their classroom learning to industry partners’ real-world challenges, to help them to develop the right mix of skills for the FinTech roles of today and tomorrow.

These vocational skills are essential, but we need to do more to develop the next generation of financial professionals. Giving students the ability to critically engage with the core debates facing the sector during its digital transformation is equally important. We offer students a critical view of existing financial markets and structures, and ask them to consider how they might be re-imagined.

Susan Strange’s work on casino capitalism and Douglas North’s on the implicit and explicit cultural meanings of markets, are among the ideas students will use to challenge the fundamental assumptions we all hold about the modern economy.

Technology is only as effective as the people who design and employ it. Financial services have an unrivalled power over people’s lives, so it’s our duty to ensure the students who go onto shape them enter the workforce with a rounded education.

Dr Gbenga Ibikunle is Senior Lecturer in Financial Markets, and Director of the MSc in Finance, Technology and Policy.