About This Masters Degree
Finance for the next generation
After the financial crisis, banks and corporations were attacked for neglecting the long-term interests of their clients as well as their impact on society and the environment. There was an urgent need to rethink business and finance: to move away from an outdated narrow view of capitalism towards the concept of shared value. In this context, sustainability – once seen as a niche topic – is fast becoming a core part of the mission of financial institutions and companies.
A long-term perspective for sound financial decisions
Sustainability means taking a long-term perspective. It’s about meeting our needs now, without jeopardising the potential for people in the future to meet their needs. This IB specialisation brings the principles of sustainability together with the study of finance. On the one hand, to make sound financial decisions for the future, organisations need a good understanding of sustainability challenges. And on the other hand, a sustainable society needs a healthy financial and business sector.
Will you become part of a new generation of finance professionals?
To move forward with the times, financial institutions and companies today are shifting their focus towards three key elements of sustainability: environment, society and governance (ESG). How can financial institutions offer sustainable investment opportunities to clients as part of their business case? Can they make better investment and lending decisions by considering environmental and social risks and opportunities? Do corporations financially benefit from having green buildings? How to incentivise them to engage in community projects, such as investing in infrastructure in emerging economies? And how can managers be rewarded in ways that promote long-term value rather than short-term returns? To answer these questions and more, companies need the special know-how of a new generation of finance professionals. Professionals with a strong grounding in traditional finance, who can enhance financial decision making by taking sustainability into account. Professionals who, above all, know how to make sustainability profitable.
Learn to enhance mainstream finance by considering sustainability issues
Sustainable Finance is brand new specialisation that will be launched in September 2014. It is a world first in addressing how the study and practice of mainstream finance can be enhanced through consideration of sustainability issues. It is a one-year, full-time programme taught entirely in English. Graduates receive a master's degree in International Business with a specialisation in Sustainable Finance.
What duty do financial institutions and corporations have to engage in long-term sustainable development? How can they balance this with the wishes of shareholders, when these are focused on the short term? How can benchmarks on the sustainability performance of investments lead to higher returns? And crucially, how can sustainability challenges be turned into competitive advantages?
This specialisation focuses on how financial institutions and organisations can implement sustainability in ways that allow them to reach their strategic goals. You take a multidisciplinary approach – management, corporate strategy, accounting, reporting, marketing and more – to issues such as sustainable banking, investing, real estate and microcredit. You consider how the financial market is organised and how, within this mainstream framework, companies can be more sustainable. How can sustainability profitably be achieved today and in the future?
Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics (SBE) is the world leader in sustainable finance. The Finance Department is internationally recognised for the cutting-edge research it was doing in this field long before it landed on the agenda of America’s Ivy League schools and other European institutions. The department also founded two leading institutes for sustainable finance research: the European Centre for Corporate Engagement (ECCE) and the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB). These institutes collaborate with pension funds, rating agencies, corporations, and regulators to conduct research and develop tools that matter to practitioners. In a nutshell, SBE was the source and remains the hub of this field worldwide.
In this specialisation, you will participate in mandatory courses and skills training, choose an elective in finance, business or sustainability, and write a master’s thesis. You receive guest lectures from expert practitioners, work on case studies and other practical assignments, and acquire the necessary techniques and tools to conduct financial research, all by way of our hands-on PBL method. In short, you will be equipped with the latest academic theory as well as the skills to apply it in practice.
What will you learn?
Mainstream finance, combined with a multidisciplinary perspective on material sustainability issues. The toolkit, in other words, of the finance professional of the future. You will learn:
- the academic theory and practical tools that underlie financial analysis, valuation, capital budgeting and investment decisions
- to serve as a bridge between different disciplines and experts in organisations aiming to create value through sustainability
- to enhance financial decision making by linking environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues to key value drivers, such as the cost of capital, profitability, and investment returns
- to benchmark financial institutions and companies along financial and sustainability metrics for the purpose of investing in stock, bond and real estate markets
- how sustainability relates not only to finance but also to financial reporting, corporate governance systems, strategy analysis and financial product development
- to identify and address those mechanisms in the capital market that help or hinder companies in the quest for sustainability.
With its emphasis on long-term, sustainable finance, this specialisation differs from that of IB Finance, which focuses more on corporate finance. It is also distinct from the Marketing–Finance specialisation, which focuses on the marketing aspects of financial products and the contribution of marketing to financial outcomes.
Now that sustainability has landed on the radars of financial institutions, corporations, and regulators, they will be in urgent need of experts in both finance and sustainability. As part of this new generation of finance practitioners, your prospects are excellent. You will be qualified to work in all the same companies as finance graduates, but with a competitive edge thanks to your enhanced knowledge of sustainability. SBE has an excellent network of financial institutions and organisations, which can give you a great leg up into a sustainable finance job.
You could work:
- as a business consultant, financial analyst, financial manager, investment portfolio manager, risk manager or sustainability expert
- at asset managers, multinationals, regulators, consultants, benchmarking agencies, pension funds or rating agencies. Companies with an explicit sustainability mission include ABN AMRO, Achmea, APG, Black Rock, Deutsche Bank, DSM, ING, KPMG, PWC, Rabobank, UBS, Unilever and more.