At the forefront of skills development in Finance

Sketch out a career path for the next few decades and chances are the time frame of the resulting diagram will be shorter than in the past.

That is true for every sector, reflecting how hard it is to predict future employment trends. With experts anticipating four ‘careers’ per person in an average 21st century working life, there is an obvious need for everyone to become more flexible and adaptable. That is true for any current level of experience and responsibility, and it seems ‘Lifelong Learning’ is set to become the reality for us all. (At one Business School event last October, PwC highlighted that 77% of UK employees want to learn new skills now, to improve their future employability.)

“To plan effectively, and prepare for the inevitable bumps along the road, people are going to need lifelong professional financial advice as never before,” says Chris Divito, newly appointed Associate Professor at the Business School.

Chris joined Edinburgh Napier University in January, and heads the Financial Services Group. His first priority is to draw upon more than two decades of professional experience – and the close cooperation of a professional advisory group spanning key players in the UK financial sector – to ensure that the Finance programmes will match the sector’s future challenges.

“There is a focus now on business for good, and many undergraduates are motivated by a strong sense of social purpose in addition to a desire to secure a degree that offers them a financially rewarding career. What can be more fulfilling than helping ensure people have financial security in this uncertain world? That is the potential with a career in the finance sector, either through managing service delivery, developing new products or giving tailored personal advice.

“The global financial giants, national regulators such as the UK’s FCA, and a whole kaleidoscope of start-ups in the Fintech space are innovating products, services and governance structures to reflect this changing landscape. We need to reflect that, to remain at the forefront of skills development.”

Take the issue of risk as an example: Edinburgh Napier’s undergraduate degree in Financial Services is the only one of its kind in Scotland, [which Chris graduated from earlier in his own career]. “The existing degree programme covers risk in many modules,” says Chris, “but we don’t bring these together in a single, focused module on all the combined risks. The focus on risk is growing every day in our industry and such focus within our programmes will appeal to employers, and set our future graduates apart.”

Chris has the experience to understand the priorities facing the sector both in the UK and internationally: with a career spanning several sectors, including being CEO of Standard Life in the Middle East, Head of Wealth and Asset Management with the Dubai International Finance Centre Authority and, most recently, as Managing Director of Friends Provident International for Middle East & Africa. “In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority has increased qualification requirements for those who want to offer personal financial advice. Our plan is to enable those who complete our modules, and who want to follow that career path, to have a fast-start on those qualifications requirements”.

“Governance is another critical area for the sector. The Regulator has recently embedded the SMCR (Senior Manager and Certification Regime) which strengthens responsibilities for good governance, not only for senior managers, but for all staff across every financial services business in the UK. Through deeper ties with industry, our plan is to better engage with businesses to assist in ongoing executive education to meet emerging needs of this kind and help firms demonstrate their compliance with such regulation.”

“We have a strong foundation here at The Business School, and Scotland has a strong tradition in financial innovation and entrepreneurship. The financial sector is the perfect place for forward-thinking and progressive individuals to be a catalyst for real, positive cultural and social change. I’m delighted to be in a position to help shape the talent that will drive that forward.”

Chris Divito, Associate Professor at Edinburgh Napier University Business School

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