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How To Innovate A Business Analysis Course: Evidence From Vse

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Abstract

This research paper describes innovative approach we used in preparation of new course for graduate students enrolled in minor specialization Ð''Financial manager' at University of Economics in Prague. Main focus of intended course is on corporate finance issues; specifically on business and financial analysis.

We describe in few steps the process of preparation. We begin with description of current situation, the reasons for innovation and general overview of theoretical background for topics related to subject (such as financial statements, capital budgeting, capital structure, etc.).

The second step is analysis of skills and knowledge required by employers for positions of business or financial analysts, as presented in job advertisements. We follow by using this as a basis for preparation of structured interviews with specialists in top firms who are currently working in relevant positions. Questions are focused on typical everyday tasks as well as on necessary tools and knowledge.

This process gives us rigorous answer on what are the actual needs of corporate world in the Czech Republic and provides us therefore with an advice on what should be the content of the course.

Key words

Corporate finance, education, experience, job opportunities

Introduction

Students at VSE have opportunity to choose from more than 20 bachelor level programs and continue their studies in even more programs at master level. We have six faculties focused on all aspects of business - finance and accounting, international business, business administration, information technologies and statistics, public administration, and management. Even though we have many interesting results in field of science, school itself is respected more as business school rather than research University - by both students and employers. Our graduates have excellent starting positions and great prospects toward future careers.

We believe that one of the main advantages of VSE is that our six faculties offer more than one thousand of different courses and most of them are opened each semester. Moreover there is a good tradition of close cooperation between faculties. Practical result is that students at bachelor level need to accomplish approximately 50 ECTS credits in so called "common basis" which consist of introductory courses from fields lectured by all our faculties. This should ensure that our graduates are familiar with broad range of concepts and theories of applied economics .

Another way of cooperation is applied for master level programs. As deeper interest in the particular field is expected, there is no "common basis" from courses lectured by all faculties, but students are required to study 30 ECTS credits in minor specialization besides their major. This is an efficient way how students can gain integrated knowledge in an additional field. Today there are more than 50 minor specializations opened such as Controlling, Human resources, Demography etc.

One of these minors is "Financial manager". This specialization should provide students with knowledge about financial issues and decisions taken in companies nowadays . There were two mandatory courses prepared when this minor was offered for the first time in 2005. First is "Managerial finance" which covers topics of advanced corporate finance and second called "Economic analyses". Mandatory courses and some compulsory as well were originally accredited in both Czech and English versions. Students were eligible to study any version to meet the requirements of 30 ECTS. Unfortunately English versions of courses were offered just in the first two semesters, mainly due to capacity reasons.

Based on our discussions with students who successfully finished the minor, as well as discussion with current students we found out that there is a significant demand for these courses to be offered again in English version. As this is an interesting opportunity to teach advanced course in English we expressed our interest to the guarantor of the courses. It shows up that course of "Managerial finance" was originally prepared very well and so it needs potentially just small adjustments. On the other hand the course of "Economic analysis" needs more extensive innovation to meet new more strict requirements applied on faculty.

1. Theory related to Economic and Financial Analysis

Students who will attend an innovated course that is dedicated to Economic/Financial Analysis should manage (or better master) specific hard-skills and soft skill. In this part we will discuss first of these skills. For better understanding, what we imagine under hard-skills, please refer to Figure 1. You can see there the areas for which the knowledge of corporate finance and especially of economic analysis is essential.

Therefore this paper is about connection between theory and praxis, so we should be able to define (not only) for students areas of possible utilization of intended outcomes. Because, if students are actually able to see an opportunity how they can improve their skills in particular kind of job, they will then make a next step of their development. At this moment we can put forward our scheme of topics that are related to economic analysis.

Figure 1 Ð'- Areas for Financial/Economic analysis

Source: Financial analysis: tools and techniques; E.A. Helfert

We have divided hard skills into several segments or sections. First section should be introduction to general tools of economic analysis and corporate finance. We chose these topics - Time value of money, Investment criteria (analysis of investment decisions) and Risk and return. The second part will be about formation and understanding of matters of financial analysis. Here we bring more details about mentioned topics. These details are important not only for students but we will use them to compare their content with needs and requirements of specialist for they work duties.

Time value of money

This topic is one of the basics of corporate finance. Students would feel insecure without knowledge of time value of money in other consequential problems relating to e.g. valuation , investment analysis etc.

The outcome of this part should be about understanding how to calculate future and present value. How it is influenced by interest rates or compounding interests. Knowledge of interest rates is put together about demark the terms like compounded interest and effective annual interest

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