MIT Sloan community in NYC gathers for Finance Day

“Pioneers of finance” present research to alumni, students

Published: April 27, 2012

A panel on financial reformA panel on financial reform

MIT Sloan’s top finance faculty shared new research and led engaging discussions April 20 in New York City, when the School welcomed more than 300 alumni and current and incoming students to its first Finance Day.

At the event, faculty discussed MIT Sloan’s commitment to train the new generation of finance professionals, its role in policy analysis, and the School’s growing finance course and degree offerings, including a new Master of Finance (M.Fin.) program, a complement to the already successful MBA Finance Track.

“We intend to capitalize not just on the MIT finance tradition, but on the MIT tradition broadly defined,” said Andrew Lo, Charles E. and Susan T. Harris Professor of Finance, noting MIT’s leading work in economics, mathematics, operations research, and other fields. Earlier this month Lo was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for his theory of adaptive markets and his work developing the federal Office of Financial Research.

Lo called MIT Sloan home to “pioneers of finance,” including Robert Merton, School of Management Distinguished Professor of Finance, Stewart Myers, Robert C. Merton (1970) Professor of Financial Economics, and Stephen Ross, Franco Modigliani Professor of Financial Economics. Myers emceed Finance Day, while Merton and Ross presented research on credit risk and market prediction, respectively. Merton received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1997 for developing a new method to determine the value of derivatives.

“Every day there are new insights that these pioneers provide to us,” Lo said. “The M.Fin. program is meant to take that Sloan finance franchise and expand it in a very significant way.”

“Our view is that while there may have been a number of problems in the financial industry—finance itself is not the problem,” Lo said. “In fact, it will ultimately have to be the solution.”

Other presentations at Finance Day included an exploration of how economic booms and busts shape the career paths of CEOs, from Professor Antoinette Schoar, Michael M. Koerner (1949) Professor on Entrepreneurship, and a panel discussion on financial reform featuring Ricardo Caballero, Ford International Professor of Economics at MIT, Blackrock co-founder and chief risk officer Bennett Golub, SB ’78, SM ’82, Ph.D. ’84, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission chief economist Andrei Kirilenko, and Deborah Lucas, MIT Sloan Distinguished Professor of Finance.

MIT and MIT Sloan have an influential history in finance, led by groundbreaking work from Nobel prize-winning economists and other living legends on the faculty. In addition to the Finance Track in the MBA program and a doctoral offering, the School in 2009 launched the intensive one-year Master of Finance.

The financial collapse of 2008 exposed a dearth of properly trained economists working in the financial industry and has led to a policy and regulation quandary that calls for the input of the highly trained financial professionals MIT Sloan creates. The number of MIT Sloan graduates entering the financial sector has been on the rise since 2009.

“We’re growing,” Myers told the crowd, which engaged in a series of insightful question and answer sessions with faculty throughout the day. “The full-time faculty is 18 instead of single digits years ago. We’re now offering 33 different finance courses at MIT, instead of probably single digits year ago.”

Myers urged the alumni at Finance Day to sponsor and encourage colleagues to apply to MIT Sloan’s finance programs, consider hiring graduates, and otherwise be a part of the School’s extensive and influential network of experts and leaders throughout the financial industry.

“As this illustrates,” Myers said, “we’re also reaching out to alumni, friends, and practitioners, anyone who has an interest in finance and is willing to listen to us and talk to us.”