New head sets out his vision for university's Financial Services Group
Financial Services graduates must have the skills to deliver security to clients facing multiple career changes due to the changing 21st century employment landscape, a leading academic has warned.
Chris Divito, newly appointed Associate Professor at Edinburgh Napier’s Business School, said lifelong financial guidance was crucial for a workforce adjusting to a future where, according to experts, an average of four ‘careers’ per person will be the norm.
He believes the focus on risk management within the university’s degree programmes will be key to ensuring its Finance graduates are an asset to employers in a new world where everyone needs to be adaptable.
“To plan effectively, and prepare for the inevitable bumps along the road, people are going to need lifelong professional financial advice as never before,” said Mr Divito, who joined Edinburgh Napier in January, and heads the Financial Services Group.
He will 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 the university’s Finance programmes match the sector’s future challenges.
Mr Divito is also keen to build deeper ties with industry, encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, and to give students looking to deliver personal finance advice a head start on the required qualifications.
He said: “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.”
Mr Divito graduated from Edinburgh Napier’s BA Hons Financial Services course - the only undergraduate degree of its kind in Scotland - earlier in his own career.
He believes the university’s teaching on risk management and governance within this degree and the BA Accounting & Finance, and its plans to continue to focus on these key skills, coupled with an enhanced proposition in Fintech, will be beneficial to students embarking on a career in the industry.
He said: “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.”
Mr Divito understands the priorities facing the sector both in the UK and internationally. His career spans 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, Managing Director of Friends Provident International for Middle East & Africa.
He said: “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.”
He concluded: “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.”