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《金融时报》:商学院迎来新挑战,金融科技课到底该怎么教?

其他国际资讯

《金融时报》:商学院迎来新挑战,金融科技课到底该怎么教?

“比特币是泡沫!”

“但区块链技术无限的可能性呢?”

“都是精灵之尘!”

当我给巴黎高等商学院(HEC Paris)金融学MBA的学生上课时,我发现自己常常陷入这样的讨论。原本打算讨论的是监管金融科技公司的挑战,但辩论话题很快转向了区块链技术、去中心化应用和代币经济。

美国经济学家保罗·沃尔克(Paul Volcker)曾经表示:“过去20年,银行业发明的唯一有用的东西就是自动提款机(ATM)。”沃尔克说的有些道理。如今的银行服务与40年前大致相同。

但是,由于金融科技的问世和发展,这种现状正在疾速改变。人工智能正在影响我们日常金融生活的几乎所有方面,从信用评分到监管合规。同时,区块链技术为不再依赖于银行等传统中介的金融服务创造了条件。

这导致商学院出现了文化冲突——金融学教授们面对七嘴八舌的学生,后者宣称整个金融体系已经过时,需要重启。

在最近为英国《金融时报》(FT)所写的专栏中,海伦·贝瑞特(Helen Barrett)指出,金融科技经常是商学院评价最差的课程之一,尽管该课程对于学生具有明显的吸引力和话题相关性。那么商学院能怎么办呢?

这种文化冲突有两个方面,使得商学院很难将金融科技纳入教学大纲。

首先,很多加密爱好者没有金融背景,往往对金融理论的基本概念存在误解。他们更关心共识机制而非逆向选择,而且对公司财务的复杂性不以为意。

其中一个例子就是使用“加密货币”这个术语来指代比特币、以太坊(Ethereum)和其他代币。但是比特币既非交换媒介,也不是价值储存手段,而二者是定义货币的必要条件。只有极少数公司接受比特币支付,自去年12月中旬以来,比特币价格下跌超过60%。根本不能储存价值。

第二,商学院大多数教员不理解基础技术的细节。

以初始代币发行(ICO)为例。成功推出一项ICO是十分困难的。初创公司需要在白皮书中详细描述他们的技术,开始宣传ICO,建立社区,并最终打造一个原型来拉动他们的代币经济。整个过程很少涉及传统金融机构,而高度专注于基础技术。

在巴黎高等商学院和开普敦大学(University of Cape Town)教金融科技课程的经历,让我学到了两件事。

商学院必须欣然接受与计算机科学家的合作。为了做到这一点,计算机科学家需要无需在学者们梦寐以求的期刊上发表文章就可以在商学院执教的路径;计算机科学家主要通过会议论文形式发表成果,为了一份评审报告而等待数月的概念让他们震惊。这个问题在顶级商学院不那么严重,但太多机构受困于学科孤岛。

文化上的转变也是必要的。商学院需要加密专家贡献其对技术的独特理解。

在开普敦大学,商科教员——联手统计学和计算机学系——推出了全新的金融科技硕士课程。该学位侧重于硬技能和编码,引发了庞大的需求。巴黎高等商学院与巴黎综合理工学院(école Polytechnique)联合开设了商业数据学硕士课程,同样专注于硬技能。

第二,要打破传统的课堂范式。只有成功金融科技公司的案例研究是不够的;学生们需要亲自动手。例如,开普敦大学与区块链公司Linum Labs开设过一个为期10天的区块链新兵训练营和黑客马拉松——解锁区块2018 (UnlockTheBlock2018)。

比特币波动性很大,但金融科技会保留下来。上一次我们看到如此快速的科技发展还是在上世纪90年代末。当互联网泡沫破灭后,苹果(Apple)、谷歌(Google)、亚马逊(Amazon)和Facebook等公司涌现出来,改变了我们经商办事的方式。没有理由认为这一次会不一样。商学院向金融科技革命的推动者敞开大门是有利于自身的。

“Bitcoin is a bubble!”

“But how about the endless possibilities of the blockchain?”

“Nothing but pixie dust!”

I found myself in the middle of such discussions when teaching finance MBA students at HEC Paris. The idea was to discuss challenges in regulating fintech companies, but the debate quickly turned to the technical aspects of blockchain, decentralised applications and token economies.

American economist Paul Volcker once said: “The only useful thing banks have invented in 20 years is the ATM.” Mr Volcker has a point. Banking services are pretty much what they used to be 40 years ago.

But this status quo is changing at breakneck speed thanks to fintech. Artificial intelligence is affecting almost every aspect of our financial lives, from credit scoring to regulatory compliance. And the blockchain enables financial services that no longer rely on traditional intermediaries such as banks.

This has created a clash of cultures in business schools where finance professors are faced with rowdy students who declare the entire financial system is obsolete and requires a reboot.

In a recent Financial Times column, Helen Barrett points out that fintech is regularly among the worst-rated courses at business schools, despite the obvious appeal to students and topical relevance. So what can business schools do about it?

There are two aspects to this clash of cultures that make it difficult for business schools to include fintech in their curriculum. First, many of the crypto enthusiasts do not have a background in finance and misunderstand elementary concepts of financial theory. They care more about consensus mechanisms than adverse selection and only shrug at the intricacies of corporate finance.

An example of this is to use the term cryptocurrency for bitcoin, ethereum, and other alt-coins. But bitcoin is neither a medium of exchange nor a store of value, both necessary conditions for it to be a currency. Only niche companies accept bitcoin as payment and the price of bitcoin has dropped more than 60 per cent since mid-December. So much for store of value.

Second, most faculty at business schools do not understand the details of the underlying technology.

Take initial coin offerings as an example. Launching a successful ICO is difficult. Start-ups need to give a detailed description of their technology in a white paper, start advertising the ICO, build a community, and ultimately build a prototype to bootstrap their token economy. All of this happens with minimum involvement from traditional financial institutions and a maximum focus on the underlying technology.

Teaching fintech at both HEC Paris and at the University of Cape Town, I have learnt two things.

Business schools must embrace collaboration with computer scientists. To make this work, computer scientists need paths to tenure at business schools that do not require publishing in coveted journals because computer scientists publish mostly through conference proceedings and are appalled by the idea of waiting months for a referee report. This is less of an issue at top business schools but too many institutions are stuck in their disciplinary silos.

A cultural shift is also necessary. Business schools need crypto experts to contribute their unique technical understanding.

At the University of Cape Town, the faculty of commerce — working with the statistical science and computer science departments — has introduced a new fintech masters programme. The degree focuses on hard skills and coding and has seen extraordinary demand. HEC Paris has a joint masters in data science for business together with école Polytechnique, which also focuses on hard skills.

Second, the traditional classroom paradigm needs to be broken up. It is not enough to have case studies of successful fintech companies; students actually need to get their hands dirty. UCT, for example, ran a 10-day blockchain boot camp and hackathon — #UnlockTheBlock2018 — with blockchain company Linum Labs.

Bitcoin is volatile but fintech is here to stay. The last time we saw such rapid technological development was in the late-1990s. When the dotcom bubble burst, companies like Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook emerged and changed the way we do business. There is no reason to think that this time will be different. Business schools would do well to open their doors to those driving the fintech revolution.


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