Financial Markets Courses & Fact Sheets

TERM 0 (no credits)

Self-training on Datacamp will be made available to Participants (for free, since accessed via Solvay school).  This training is designed for either beginners or those with limited experience of Microsoft Excel and gives users a good introduction to the basic concepts of Excel. It explores the structure of the Excel workbook and demonstrates basic techniques required for working with spreadsheets. Participants can learn how to easily summarize and analyse data using formulas, functions and pivot tables and present results visually as charts.

This training is required for those who do not yet master these techniques, as many courses assume at least a fair knowledge of Excel.

Self-training on Datacamp will be made available to Participants (for free, since accessed via Solvay school).  This training is designed for participants who have already a fair knowledge of Excel (including via the Excel for beginners training as the case may be). 

It delves into the importance and power of Excel in the practical world of finance and introduces participants to financial models used in the financial industry and develop the skills required to structure financial models in a scalable way.

This training will substantially facilitate the following of some of the more technical courses of the Advanced Master and is strongly encouraged.

This training is designed for beginners or those with limited experience with VBA. It provides participants with a good understanding of the basic concepts and tools of VBA and introduces them to best practices and the methodology to develop programs that can be scaled and re-used in finance jobs.

Such knowledge of VBA can be helpful, but is not a pre-requisite, for some of the courses of the Advanced Master.  This training is therefore optional for participants.  It is a plus on your CV if you intend to seek positions in the financial sector in banking, asset management and other fields where use of VBA is expected.

Self-training on Python will be made available to Participants (for free, since accessed via Solvay school).  Python is one of the relatively straightforward programming tools used in various parts of the financial industry by those who work in technical jobs.

Basic knowledge of Python is necessary only for Participants who intend to select the course of Machine Learning and AI in Term 3.  No other course of the Advanced Master expects any knowledge of Python.  It is a plus on your CV if you intend to seek positions in the financial sector in banking, asset management and other fields where the use of Python is expected.  It is purely optional for all other participants.

TERM 1

This course provides all participants with the essential corporate finance knowledge necessary to be able to follow the other courses of the programme. It is designed to be accessible to participants who do not yet have a background in corporate finance and ensures that those who already have some background all achieve the same required level.
It will articulate the principles, tools and techniques to assess investment and financing decisions made by firms, in their intimate relationship with financial markets.

Referring to the arbitrage principle in financial decision-making, the course will start with the key foundations of finance, the valuation principles in general and the understanding of the requirement of return given a level of risk.

The second part will be devoted to the valuation of the various asset classes, projects and firms, including the arbitrage principle in financial decision-making, time value of money, interest rate management and bond portfolio management, project valuation, capital markets and the price of risk.
Students will be advised to undertake readings for each subject and will work as well on exercises for each theme to be covered in class in small groups.

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This course will provide students a transversal view of the financial markets and of their key regulatory pillars and will, therefore, help them grasp more effectively the content of the other specialised courses of the programme.

The course will review the evolution of the banking business model and articulate the seeds of the financial crisis. It will outline the role of the main actors in the financial industry, including assets managers, investment funds and fund managers, global and local custodians, as well as infrastructure companies.

It will also describe key financial products, such as securities and derivatives, as well as specific products such as money market funds, repurchase agreements, credit default swaps, and covered bonds. It will provide a high-level picture of the regulatory and supervisory evolution, which will be examined in greater details in other courses.

It will furthermore detail some of the important governance regulation following the financial crisis, and its relevance to risk management in the financial industry.

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Significant changes in the corporate external reporting environment have led to proposals for fundamental changes in reporting practices. Recent influential reports have suggested that a variety of new information types be reported, in particular forward-looking, non-financial and soft information. Aimed at postgraduate students, this course will provide a readily accessible descriptive overview of the current state of corporate external information, its use and misuse, changes currently being debated, and its role in meeting the demand for greater societal needs. Subject matters addressed through this course will include amongst others:

  • The underlying general theory of corporate reporting;
  • The international dimension of financial reporting;
  • The roles and responsibilities in the reporting chains;
  • The expectations of users and potential recipients of information;
  • The failures of accounting, the missing metrics, and the earnings game;
  • The information, expectation gaps, and catalysts for changes.

The course is built on a combination of academics and guest speakers. and will refer to real-life quoted companies corporate reports and other public information, in a way that is aimed to provide students with tutorial and practical business case material. Mandatory and optional pre-reading material will also be distributed during the programme.

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The course will be organized around the relationship between market integration and policy integration for European financial services. In Europe, financial market integration has been much more rapid than policy integration. Financial prudential regulation has long been a subject of EU competence but with many caveats and also financial supervision and financial crisis resolution remained purely national prerogatives. This situation was even true in the euro area where the single currency resulted in even greater market integration than in the EU in general, yet financial stability policy was no more integrated there than in the EU. As a result, both the EU in general and the euro area, in particular, were ill-prepared to both deal with the financial crisis and to exit from it. The crisis has been a catalyst for change, with new European policies and institutions to improve financial stability, including a banking union with three pillars – a Single Rule Book, a Single Supervisory Mechanism and a Single Resolution Mechanism – that have been politically agreed and started to operate in 2014 and 2015.

These three pillars will be analyzed from both micro- and a macro-prudential angle and will be compared to the situation in other jurisdictions, in particular, the USA and some Asian countries. With respect to the Single Rule Book, the course will in particular look at the risk-based single rulebook for financial institution (namely Basel3 and Solvency 2 guidelines), and at those regulatory initiatives that have made market integration easier and closer to citizens (namely SEPA and other initiatives in the retail payment area such as a greater harmonization of deposit guarantee regimes). For the Single Supervision Mechanism, the course will cover both micro- and macro-prudential issues.

Finally, for the Single Resolution Mechanism, the course will look e.g. at preventive (possibly differentiated per type of institution) and early intervention measures. The course will also look at other initiatives that are being pursued both to deepen the Banking Union (eg the discussion on the European Deposit Insurance Scheme) and to enlarge it both geographically and beyond banks (in particular the Capital Markets Union and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) initiatives. The ambition of the course is to look, with an open and critical attitude, at both the issues that have already been addressed and those that are still pending.

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Sustainable finance involves providing finance with environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations in mind. The course enables participants to understand why sustainability matters and what financing sustainability entails in practice for public and private equity investing, bond investing, and banking.

Participants will have the opportunity to interact with practitioners sharing their experience in the fields of impact investing, green bonds, social bonds and new forms of sustainable lending, as well as discussing the challenges and opportunities that market players face today. The course will also examine the evolving analysis of the performance of ESG investing compared to traditional investing.

The course will equip participants to (1) explain how relevant sustainability is, discuss the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and understand the stages of sustainable finance, (2) grasp sustainability’s challenges, externalities, government intervention, governance issues, the increasing role of institutional investors, changing business models and integrated reporting going beyond financial reporting, (3) articulate how the financial system can move from a traditional approach to consider social and environmental value, and explain how to include sustainability in equity investing, bond investing, and banking.

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TERM 2

This course explores the most specific aspects of investment banking, namely those around corporate finance and primary markets. As such, the course examines a comprehensive set of financial situations that arise in companies and is designed to provide students with a practical understanding of such topics like initial public offering (IPO) and other equity capital market instruments, bond offerings, syndicated lending, mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

Other more specific financing structures such as leverage-buy-out (LBO) and asset securitization are also reviewed. The institutional aspects of investment banking, the conflicts of interest issues and in general the role of compliance and ethics in investment banking will also be covered.

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The course will be organized around the relationship between market integration and policy integration for European financial services. In Europe, financial market integration has been much more rapid than policy integration. Financial prudential regulation has long been a subject of EU competence but with many caveats and also financial supervision and financial crisis resolution remained purely national prerogatives. This situation was even true in the euro area where the single currency resulted in even greater market integration than in the EU in general, yet financial stability policy was no more integrated there than in the EU. As a result, both the EU in general and the euro area, in particular, were ill-prepared to both deal with the financial crisis and to exit from it. The crisis has been a catalyst for change, with new European policies and institutions to improve financial stability, including a banking union with three pillars – a Single Rule Book, a Single Supervisory Mechanism and a Single Resolution Mechanism – that have been politically agreed and started to operate in 2014 and 2015.

These three pillars will be analyzed from both micro- and a macro-prudential angle and will be compared to the situation in other jurisdictions, in particular, the USA and some Asian countries. With respect to the Single Rule Book, the course will in particular look at the risk-based single rulebook for financial institution (namely Basel3 and Solvency 2 guidelines), and at those regulatory initiatives that have made market integration easier and closer to citizens (namely SEPA and other initiatives in the retail payment area such as a greater harmonization of deposit guarantee regimes). For the Single Supervision Mechanism, the course will cover both micro- and macro-prudential issues.

Finally, for the Single Resolution Mechanism, the course will look e.g. at preventive (possibly differentiated per type of institution) and early intervention measures. The course will also look at other initiatives that are being pursued both to deepen the Banking Union (eg the discussion on the European Deposit Insurance Scheme) and to enlarge it both geographically and beyond banks (in particular the Capital Markets Union and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) initiatives. The ambition of the course is to look, with an open and critical attitude, at both the issues that have already been addressed and those that are still pending.

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The course shall make the students acquainted with relevant topics related to the construction of portfolios and investments. We start with basics on portfolio construction and asset allocation, then turn to the question of whether markets are efficient. Although this question cannot be answered, the attendees will have deeper insights in potential reasons for, and consequence of, market (in-) efficiency. The course will help to better interact with other market participants.

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Infrastructure companies have generally been an island of stability during the financial crisis, policymakers, regulators and markets are now focusing on their critical role in ensuring not only the efficiency but the stability of financial markets. A proper understanding of the role of these companies has become a must for financial practitioners. This course will review thoroughly the activities and competitive environment of the key financial market infrastructures, and in particular (stock and derivatives) exchanges and central securities depositories (CSDs), as well as the regulatory context in which they operate and its impact on financial markets, in particular in the EU and the US.

The course will explain the different trading models of exchanges and in particular how exchanges attract liquidity as well as their impact on market quality, institutional order flows. A particular chapter will also look at listings, IPOs and the exchange environment from the issuers’ perspective. It will detail the breadth of new services being offered by exchanges. It will also review and compare market surveillance mechanisms and relevant regulations in Europe (such as MiFID, EMIR, MAD) and in the US (such as Reg NMS, Dodd-Franck). Finally, it will examine current market trends, such as high-frequency trading, and analyses recent market events such as the Flash Crash.

The course will also cover the fundamental importance of CSDs in the financial markets, focusing on their relevance for professionals who work in firms that are interacting with them on a daily basis, either directly or indirectly (banks, investment banks, central banks, as well as asset managers, hedge funds and others). It will also cover the key European regulations and surveillance mechanisms that are applicable in this field (CSDR, etc).

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The objective of the course is to delve in the different types of risks and the framework of risk management. The course will enable students to understand the concepts and the jargon and how risk managers must become sceptics.

The course will explain the risk typology and describe in detail credit risk, market risk, liquidity risk, operational risk, and reputation risk. It will articulate the concepts and technical tools used in risk measurement and management, including credit risk algebra, the statistical properties of ratings, V@R theory and V@R computation, the use of stress tests, and key risk indicators.

It will also illustrate these in respect of a range of transactions or instruments, such as counterparty situations, collateral posting, repos and securities lending, as well as securitization. It will look at both pre- and post-trade risk control, as well as explain how risk can be reduced or managed through settlement and central counterparty structures. It will describe risk appetite and risk tolerance and explain the importance of risk capital, as both a common unit of measure and a basis for shadow pricing.

The course will be probing and fun, using real-life case studies and trading games to illustrate the relevance of theoretical teaching.

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TERM 3

This course is designed to provide students with a thorough understanding of the nature of hedge funds and of their activities. It will describe hedge funds and their risk / return profile, fee structure, and their legal structure, explain the rationale for investing in hedge Funds (whether for returns, for risk reduction, or risk seeking) and articulate how this may fit in a wider portfolio.

The course will describe and assess the different possible strategies used in hedge Fund investing. It will compare hedge f-Funds with funds of hedge funds, explaining the potential added value of a fund of hedge Funds with another layer of fees. It will review the profile of hedge Fund Investors and examine the emergence of managed accounts in the hedge Fund space. It will also set out in practical terms how to perform a proper due diligence. The course will be based on significant quantitative analysis and sophisticated tools to measure ex-ante risk factors hedge Fund investments, as well as the risk and the expected return of an entire hedge Fund portfolio, which are typically not available in university classes. The course will illustrate relevant aspects through case studies, including the Madoff case.

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The course provides students with the opportunity to acquire a thorough understanding of the main issues and the complex interactions in the management of modern financial services firms (FSFs), and banks in particular. This will include inter alia analyses of capital needs in banks (under Basle III), the challenges and techniques of liquidity management post-crisis, asset and liability management models and risk-adjusted return on capital models.

By the end of the course, students will have the ability to:

(1) identify and understand trends in the economic and regulatory environment in which FSFs operate,
(2) articulate and understand strategic issues in financial intermediation,
(3) master up-to-date analytical and quantitative tools to analyse return/risk trade-offs in banks,
(4) understand and implement tools to manage assets, liabilities and capital,
(5) confront evidence obtained in cases with the acquired body of theoretical and empirical knowledge in the field, and
(6) critically assess the changing nature of financial intermediation.

Students will analyse and present a number of cases in teams.

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This course provides a practitioner’s insight into how a bank and an insurance company handle their Assets and Liabilities Management (ALM) and how they seek to manage their balance sheet and P/L (profit and loss account) in the face the new regulatory environment, and in particular the Basle 3 and Solvency II solvency, liquidity and leverage requirements.

The course covers the fundamentals of ALM of a bank and an insurance company, managing the risks arising from assets and liabilities mismatches. It reviews in particular the management of interest rate and liquidity risks, as well as transfer pricing issues and commercial margins monitoring. The course also dissects how hedges are used in bank’s hedge accounting format, to mitigate the P/L volatility and protect NAV.

It also examines in a practical way how new / advancing accounting rules impact a bank’s balance sheet and P/L, in particular the valuation of financial instruments, including derivatives. It analyses the key issues for banks deriving from the shift to IFRS rules (from IAS39 to IFRS 9), the assessment of fair values and the need for fair value adjustments, including Credit Value Adjustment (CVA), Debit Value Adjustment (DVA), and Funding Value Adjustment (FVA) for derivatives.

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The course consists in a practical case study in which participants will perform a valuation of a recent real-case IPO, merger or acquisition transaction in the market. It is a natural complement to other corporate finance and valuation courses taught in the programme, as it allows for a use of techniques and competences in a real-life case.

It will allow participants to carry out a valuation analysis based on different methodologies and real figures and to compare the different results. It will also allow them to confront their valuation results with market values and understand where the differences with those market assessments come from.

The course brings up the main valuation methodologies and articulates the principles, tools and techniques to assess valuation computations made by investment bankers and analysts, in their intimate relationship with financial markets.

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The course of Data Analytics is for Participants interested in how data are used and analysed to support new business developments and does not require any prior technical expertise.  It will involve working on a project involving the use of a tool called Rapid Miner, which is easy and intuitive to use.  

The financial sector is increasingly embracing data science, whether it takes the form of data analytics, data management, data mining, big data, artificial intelligence including machine learning, deep learning, or the like.  This fast-evolving field is triggering a fundamental rethink of financial institutions’ strategies and business development, ranging from, consumer analytics (client segmentation, cross-selling), customer data management, M&A analytics, risk analytics to trading applications and algorithmic trading. 

As a result, a robust understanding of how it works and how to use it in a business context is becoming a must to boost a career in finance.  Understanding data science is not just for scientists and programmers but is a business necessity in the financial world and it is arguably now a cornerstone of any master in finance. 

Participants in the Advanced Master in Financial Markets will select one the following two courses as part of the curriculum of the Advanced Master, reflecting their interest and background

  • Data Analytics
  • Machine Learning and AI

Both courses are designed for participants looking to develop their business capabilities, backed up by some technical skills.  

The choice between the two courses will not need to be made until December, after discussion with the Academic Director. Classes of the two courses will not overlap, as we intend to seek to allow Participants who have selected one of them for their Advanced Master curriculum to also register for the other course as part of a separate Module if they so wish. 

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Machine Learning and AI is a course for participants with a background in economics, engineering or the like, who are either already familiar with, or willing to make preparatory efforts to learn to use the Python programming tool, as a project involving the use of Python is part of the course.

The financial sector is increasingly embracing data science, whether it takes the form of data analytics, data management, data mining, big data, artificial intelligence including machine learning, deep learning, or the like.  This fast-evolving field is triggering a fundamental rethink of financial institutions’ strategies and business development, ranging from, consumer analytics (client segmentation, cross-selling), customer data management, M&A analytics, risk analytics to trading applications and algorithmic trading. 

As a result, a robust understanding of how it works and how to use it in a business context is becoming a must to boost a career in finance.  Understanding data science is not just for scientists and programmers but is a business necessity in the financial world and it is arguably now a cornerstone of any master in finance. 

Participants in the Advanced Master in Financial Markets will select one the following two courses as part of the curriculum of the Advanced Master, reflecting their interest and background

  • Data Analytics
  • Machine Learning and AI

Both courses are designed for participants looking to develop their business capabilities, backed up by some technical skills.  

The choice between the two courses will not need to be made until December, after discussion with the Academic Director. Classes of the two courses will not overlap, as we intend to seek to allow Participants who have selected one of them for their Advanced Master curriculum to also register for the other course as part of a separate Module if they so wish.

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TERM 4

This course gives an overview of the Private Equity industry, which is playing a paramount role in financing the real economy. Its influence has increased dramatically over the past few years and investors have been allocating unprecedented amounts of capital to this type of strategy.

The course helps Participants understand why investors are getting involved, what sort of risk premium they seek and the roles private equity plays in their portfolios.

It focuses on the different types of private equity funds by bringing in experts of relevant fields, such as

  • infrastructure
  • leverage buyout
  • venture capital
  • growth equity
  • private credit

The course is articulated around several case studies and expands on the latest trends and insights one should know about this market.

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The aim of this course is to make students familiar with state-of-the-art models of (strategic) asset allocation. We will investigate the properties of alternative asset classes, such as commodities, private equity, hedge funds, inflation-link bonds, and discuss their value for different types of investors.

Within the equity asset class, we will discuss the value of factor investing. Using a real-life case, we will also discuss how to optimally set up an optimal pension plan for potentially heterogeneous agents. Finally, in the more quantitative part, we will learn how quantitative techniques, in particular the Black-Litterman model, can help in taking optimal asset allocation decisions.

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The 2007-2008 banking crisis has challenged many assumptions about both central banking and banking regulation, leading to many evolutions which the course will discuss.

First, central banks have been called upon to actively contribute to financial stability, while the earlier period had stressed much more their role in controlling inflation. Their actions have been decisive in avoiding a meltdown of financial markets following, for example, the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy. They are moreover called upon more and more to substitute for the limits of fiscal policy.

The course will address the pros and cons of central bank activism in the current environment. Banking regulation has been questioned following the crisis, too, and for good reasons: the Basel-II framework has proved unable to prevent massive bailouts and a financial crisis that has led to the Great Recession. Basel-III tries to address this failure by requiring more and better capital, by introducing liquidity requirements and by adding a macroprudential leg to banking regulation. This comes next to initiatives to regulate bank structures (Vickers, Volcker, Liikanen), bank governance and compensation, or shadow banking for example. The course will discuss the implications of these initiatives for bank resilience as well as for the evolution of the banking landscape.

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This course consists of a practical in-depth analysis of the business models and key financial parameters of actual banks.

It teaches participants, using a simplified financial spreadsheet model of a bank, to recognise different banking business models and, based on 20 key financial metrics, to judge the strengths and weaknesses of a bank within the applicable regulatory framework

The course allows to use financial metrics in a practical context and to develop and challenge analyses from the point of view of different stakeholders, including the bank’s management (CEO, CFO and CRO), other banks’ analyst teams, and shareholders.

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This course will provide of a robust understanding of the insurance markets, including the intermediation role of insurance companies and the competitive environment they face, in particular from fintech. It will delve in the critical impact of Solvency II and explain the main regulations it entails. The differences of the balance sheet management of an insurance company compared to a bank will be articulated and key types of insurance contracts and products will be reviewed. Classes include practical examples and case studies and develop quantitative and analytical skills to value insurance contracts such as Insurance Linked Securities (ILS).

This course will thereby provide a solid background in insurance business activities that is generally not taught in classical university programmes, this at the time Brexit is prompting several insurance companies to establish European hubs on the continent, more particularly in Belgium.

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TERM 5

Participants perform a three-month internship in a leading financial institution, normally starting in June after courses are completed (it is also possible to do an internship in parallel with courses). The Academic Director and the career service team help participants find internship opportunities. Previous internships have taken place in Belgium or abroad in institutions such as Morgan Stanley (London), Credit Suisse (Zurich), ING Corporate Finance (Amsterdam), Belfius, BNP Paribas, ING, KBC, Degroof Petercam, Lombard Odier, Blackfin, Sofina, Deloitte, EY, KPMG, PWC, Grant Thornton, Baker Tilly, Exxon, Cargill, Euroclear Bank, SWIFT, European Central Bank (Frankfurt), ESMA (Paris), the Single Resolution Board among many others.

Young professionals who work while taking the program can carry out their internship in their own firm.

In some circumstances, participants may choose to submit a master thesis on a relevant topic as an alternative to the internship.

These internships are a great springboard to finding a job. 80% of our students find a job even before graduation and over 90% within 3 months!