Financial Reporting and Analysis EFIMM0030
This is a mandatory unit on the Finance and Investment MSc programme, with a cohort size of 176 in 2021/22. In focusing on the preparation and articulation of the main financial statements the unit lends itself to applied thinking in the use of financial tools and financial valuation techniques.
Students across all disciplines frequently voice interest and concern in sustainability. This intervention was designed to explore translating this into career planning within a particular area of study. We assessed the scope for recruitment growth to identify whether it was appropriate to focus on career development in sustainable investing and found it important. Assisting students in exploring sustainable careers also supports the institution-wide drive for making sustainability a core competence of the education provided to our students, as well as growing awareness of sustainability literacy as a graduate skill.
Collaboration took place between Green Investment Partners, the Unit Director, School Education Director and Employability Adviser. Contact was first made with Joshua Cole, an alumnus and founder of the company, after they volunteered as a guest speaker for a DARO Bristol Connects event. The School’s academic Careers Lead then suggested a unit where his insights would be particularly relevant to students. The Employability Adviser and Unit Director discussed the potential benefit of the speaker’s input in terms of supporting the unit’s intended learning outcomes as well as encouraging more developed career thinking and exploration in an area of interest to students.
The agreed format was for a guest lecture led by Joshua Cole. He talked to students about sustainability as a newly emerging career area, how it currently fits within a more traditional financial reporting landscape, and its potential for future growth. Students were introduced to how a green investment fund operates, asked to critically evaluate the amount of positive impact green investment can have, as well as potentially compromising weaknesses within the system such as conflict between profit margins and positive environmental impact.
The School’s Employability Adviser ran polls at the beginning of the session to gauge student perception of the topic. Resources were recommended for building commercial awareness in the area (e.g. related reports such as Deloitte’s Sustainability Risk Management), for evidencing interest to employers (e.g. attending related CFA Institute webinars), and incorporating into their career planning (e.g. reading job descriptions for relevant roles and identifying areas to develop).
The slides were shared to the unit Blackboard area after the session, with encouragement from the Unit Director for interested students to research the topic further.
The guest lecture and supporting information provided an opportunity for authentic learning about careers in sustainability and placed this in the context of future careers.
As a result of discussions around the intervention, the School Education Director also suggested that the guest speaker use live data from his organisation to work on an existing issue with a dissertation group. This novel approach to dissertation supervision facilitated deeper student engagement with the employer and authentic learning, strengthening the industry link.
Around 100 students attended the guest lecture. Student polls after the guest lecture suggested that the vast majority (>95%) found the lecture beneficial. In the following session, several students fed back to the Unit Director that they enjoyed the guest lecture a lot and it was very informative.
No students said they did not find it useful.
The Unit Director has arranged a repeat of the guest lecture for 2022/23, with session time extended to allow further time for questions and discussion of employability content. In addition, Computacenter plc has been chosen for students to base their assessed projects around. The Executive Financial Officer and Graduate Engagement Officers of Computacenter have both delivered presentations and Q&A sessions in the curriculum, further enhancing real world learning.
The employer-led dissertation supervision is planned again for 2022/3, targeting another student cohort (accounting rather than finance-focussed) more suited to the issue selected by the organisation.
In 2022/23 a new question on student unit evaluation forms will ask how the unit has helped to develop employability-relevant skills, which may provide some useful feedback on how the sessions develops their awareness of their skills and any gaps.
Case study produced in December 2022