Finance Research Practicum
Practice finance with leading industry professionals
The Finance Research PracticumSM is a graduate-level finance elective course in which students work in teams of three on projects proposed by external sponsor companies. Our goal is to provide students with an outstanding opportunity to work with leading industry practitioners on important business problems, while helping them bridge the gap between theory and practice, and introducing them to the broader financial community.
The course is full-time during the month of January and includes some preparation and follow-up before and after the full-time experience. Depending on the sponsoring company and location, students will work on-site and off-site.
Projects address real business problems. Most involve the use of one or more advanced technical skills, including financial econometrics, simulation, derivatives valuation, optimization, and related software and programming languages.
Sample projects include:
1) Model development and evaluation to:
- Recommend whether a pension fund should conduct “tail risk hedging.”
- Help an endowment decide how much to allocate to an inflation swap that takes into account: the preferences of the investor; the risk-and-return characteristics of the swap; and the need to set aside and manage collateral.
- Value and hedge variable annuity guarantees amd Brazilian interest-rate options.
- Develop and back-test an equity trading strategy.
2) Create an agent-based model of the stock market that generates endogenous volatility; use this model to propose recommendations for how traditional portfolio construction methodology should be modified to account for endogenous risk.
3) Analyze the history of commercialization of university-based research in the Boston area and identify common attributes of successful ventures.
“We’re very interdisciplinary. Among the faculty in the group are an economist, a political scientist, a sociologist, and an industrial relations specialist. We’ve always made a big effort to be open to a variety of perspectives, but also to go beyond being open to them, to want to bring them in, because it makes for a richer environment.”
“These companies are really excited to work with MIT students.They reach out to the community to set up these projects and are great to work with. They give us access to all their resources and are very open to us.”
“It was really rewarding that they wanted to know what we thought. We left there being fairly certain that they will do some of the things that we suggested.”
“Because of the diversity of our backgrounds, when we hit the ground in Tanzania it almost was a natural play where different people assume different roles.”
“The conditions in the neighborhoods we were visiting were different than what we realized before getting there. Beyond that, what was surprising was that there weren’t surprises!”
“I love being in a place that is such a nexus of people and ideas — people coming to learn something new and to define themselves. Being a part of that process is a real honor and a real gift.”
“You could talk about watershed management and conservation of energy all you want. But until you put numbers to it and financial analysis to it, you’re not going to get much done. I came to business school to speak that language, speak with people in terms of numbers, financial numbers so that I can get projects done.”
"The classroom itself is filled with so much collective brain power . . . it's obvious that I'm caught up in a room full of 124 of the brightest, most curious people from around the world."
“At MIT Sloan you have a lot of opportunities to explore entrepreneurship. Especially in a place like Kampala where you have a lot of development, entrepreneurship can be very exciting.”
“One of the reasons I came to Sloan was because I wanted to be at a top MBA institution worldwide. But I also wanted access to working with the latest innovations and the highest technology that was coming out of the MIT labs.”
“The assistant to the CEO was like our host mom while we were there. She arranged our housing for us, she took us out to her friend’s game farm, and we got driven around in 4x4s. She was just wonderful to meet, and we developed a personal as well as professional relationship with her.”
"The relationships that we forged helped us to turn out a better project. We were able to test our hypotheses with the people that we spoke with every single day. And really, I think the friendships that you develop really propel the work that you’re doing."
“The concept behind enterprise architecture is that you have all these machines, you have all these business processes, you have all these people doing things, how do you make sure they all come together and achieve business objectives that make you more competitive.”
“I knew about American business, but not enough about what’s really become a global economy. … You can read about it all you want, but there’s no substitute for being there and seeing the context and seeing how completely different these [other countries] are.”
“We are very much an action-learning environment. The way to learn leadership is not only through reading cases, not only through learning theory — in fact we don’t want people to regurgitate the theory. We want people to take theory and to live it, use it.”
"If we do our job right here, we’ll be dealing with new problems, not old ones. We don’t want just to train people to understand what went wrong in 2008, but how will financial organizations deal in the future?"