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Designed and delivered by leading academics and finance sector practitioners, First Finance Institute’s free-of-charge MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), offer participants the opportunity to improve their financial industry knowledge and expand their career opportunities.
First Finance, a leading financial training and consultancy firm with offices in New York, London, Paris and Hong Kong, has trained more than 72,000 finance professionals. It is now pioneering a new level of financial e-learning, says Romain Rouphael, Managing Director of First Finance Asia.
This follows the success of First Finance’s French release of Financial Analysis MOOC, designed and presented by Pascal Quiry, HEC professor and former Managing Director at BNP Paribas, which attracted more than 10,000 participants from more than 30 countries. The training and consultancy firm will launch two new courses on February 24. The MOOC programme is open to anyone with an interest in the finance sector and enrolment can be completed at http://firstbusinessmooc.org .
“To ensure courses are relevant, engaging and reflect the trends in the current market, our MOOCs are tailor-made, with courses designed and delivered by experienced practitioners,” says Rouphael, who adds that the free-of-charge programmes relieve the financial burden for participants, while at the same time providing them with first-class learning opportunities.
The English release of Financial Analysis MOOC will be presented by Harvard professor Marc Bertonèche, who has won several awards for excellence and innovation in the classroom. He is a three-time winner of the prestigious Harvard Business School's Faculty Award. Meanwhile, the Wall Street MOOC: Understand Financial Markets is presented by well-known financial author Stephen Weiss, a 25-year veteran of Wall Street, seasoned investor and CNBC contributor with a regular role on Fast Money Halftime Report.
“Both MOOCs offer an opportunity for employers to offer their staff and individuals access to world-class courses without paying the costs of enrolling in a traditional programme,” says Rouphael, who adds that the MOOC courses complement First Finance’s broad range of service offerings that focus on learning and development needs, approach to consulting, instructional and programme design, and blended learning solutions.
Unlike many MOOCs, which feature segments from university lectures, Rouphael says First Finance’s offerings aim at developing professional skills. “Our courses provide current insights and operational best practice processes that allow participants to increase their financial knowledge and expand their employability prospects,” adds Rouphael, who says the First Finance MOOC initiative has received strong support from both the finance sector and from regulators. “We have received a lot of industry support for our commitment to establishing a sustainable learning pipeline for the finance sector,” says Rouphael.
The self-paced learning Financial Analysis and Wall Street MOOCs are delivered over a five-week period, each consisting of four to six video sequences, each lasting about 10 minutes. In addition, a weekly 45 minute live video session is conducted by the lecturer, allowing participants to review case studies and solidify their knowledge. Participants who successfully finish the course will receive an attestation of completion.
While the first four weeks are free of charge, during the fifth week student participants are required to pay US$30 and professional participants US$70, to complete a case study, which can lead to the award of a certificate. In addition, both MOOCs serve as the first steps to the completion of the Certificate in Corporate Finance Foundations® (CFF®) and the Certificate in Corporate Finance Foundations® (CFF®). Participants are advised to allocate two to five hours per week for study.
Available online through smart phones and digital devices, First Finance’s newly launched multiexpert, multilingual online learning portal offers case studies, weekly quizzes, and interactive discussion forums. For the convenience of business travellers, MOOC presentations can be downloaded for later viewing.
“Whereas in a classroom students tend to learn from the professors and each other, in a MOOC environment there is the opportunity to exchange ideas and views and learn from thousands of participants,” says Rouphael, who points out that there is also a map facility that indicates if participants are studying in the same location. He says the facility allows participants to make their own networking arrangements for further study.
Building on market needs and its previous success, Rouphael says First Finance has plans to roll out other programmes including marketing and strategy and soft skills such as leadership and management. The training firm is also planning to roll out its programmes on a Chinese-language platform.
For Hong Kong-based financial controller Marine Bosc, who is also an alumnus of the First Finance MOOC programme, access to online, top-tier finance courses allows her to study at her own pace. “I view the lectures while I am on the MTR, during lunch breaks and any spare time,” says Bosc, who completed the first Financial Analysis MOOC at certificate level and has been able to put her knowledge into practice.
Bosc believes that First Finance MOOCs provide focused insights on topics that help participants both build and reinforce a deeper understanding in an area of knowledge. “Being able to review the presentations is a great way to learn the basics of a topic and then review and discuss it with other students and the professor,” she says. She also believes the low-cost study platform is a good way to show employers you are committed to improving your abilities and industry knowledge. “Ultimately, the investment of time and money provides a rewarding return,” Bosc says.