The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Month: September 2016

The Financial Technology Revolution

By Josh Deems

The saga of finance technology, dubbed “fintech,” is on a delayed start compared to other industries. When the proverbial innovation alarm clock rang around 2004, a digital revolution ignited media,telecom, retail, and other nimble segments into transformation. New ideas, technologies, and companies emerged and became entrenched in our daily lives. In the meantime, financial services hit the snooze button… but why?

Innovation in finance has happened before

In the 1950’s, the invention of the credit card was thought to render physical cash obsolete. By the 1960’s, ATMs appeared, threatening the existence of live tellers and bank branches. Starting in the 1970s, stock brokers ditched phone and paper based trades for electronic systems. From 1998 on, consumers and retailers began transacting for goods and services through linked-bank accounts via the online payments system, PayPal.

Major advancements in banking technology have happened every decade since the end of the Second World War, but none harnessing the disruptive power of the revolution we’re facing today.

Why now?

Fast forward to 2008. New banking services materialized again, this time driven by the millennial thirst for digitization, the anti-establishment distrust of arcane banking processes, and the chutzpah of start-
ups and investors. Concepts such as peer-to-peer lending, digital wealth management, and the first fully electronic currency, Bitcoin, became the focal point of innovation. The theme shifted to the ‘unbundling’ of core banking services often thought as too large, too complex, and too regulated to face disruption.

<<Learn more about the MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech at Brandeis>>

Overview of new services

Highlighted below are two of the more prominent technologies involved in the paradigm shift of the banking industry. Blockchain, the distributed ledger technology and buzzword associated with Bitcoin, and robo-advisors, or digital wealth platforms changing the way we manage personal portfolios.

Blockchain

  • What is it? Distributed, immutable, and fully secure database technology. Underlying engine of bitcoin, and supporting technology for peer-to-peer payments worldwide.
  • Key Players Open source blockchain providers (Ethereum, Hyperledger); enterprise blockchain companies (Chain, itBit, Symbiont); financial services consortium (R3, Post Trade Distributed Ledger Group); global payments (Ripple); bitcoin-enabled services (Coinbase, Bitfinex)
  • Potential Impact
    •  Send payments across the globe in seconds (remember Western Union, anyone?)
    • Tokenize and track the movement of assets across the world’s financial markets
    • Shared ledgers and asset records across regulators, buy-side, sell-side, and custodians
    • Immutable history of every financial institution’s transactions
    • Digitization of fiat currency (Bank of England is experimenting with this)
    • Automated compliance and settlement processes

Robo-Advisors

  • What is it?  Umbrella term for digital wealth management advice. Covers anything from fully-automated and algorithm-based portfolio generation to digital client engagement tools used by human wealth advisors.
  • Key Players Institutional (Schwab, Fidelity, Vanguard, BlackRock); Standalone Robo’s (Betterment, Wealthfront, SigFig, LearnVest)
  • Potential Impact
    • For consumers, cheaper investment advice, diversified portfolio with lower fees through ETF-based offerings, access to features (tax-loss harvesting and portfolio rebalancing) formerly only offered by professional managers to high net worth individuals
    • For advisors, broaden scope of managed portfolios beyond high net worth individuals and increase AUM, especially by engaging and targeting millennials. Enhanced market analytics and insights to provide clients.

How to stay ahead

From behemoth banks to lean start-ups, the appetite for seasoned bankers, savvy coders, and entrepreneurial-minded individuals who can bridge the tech and finance gaps is growing. According to LinkedIn data from September 16, 2016, there are over 450 fintech job recommendations between New York, San Francisco, and Boston, and over 650 in London. And these figures ignore the opportunities unlocked by starting your own fintech.

If you’re interested in learning more, a great place to start is the MS in Science for Digital Innovation offered by Brandeis University. The program condenses the fintech ecosystem, and blends the finance and technology skillsets required to build your own personal fintech toolkit. And the secret sauce? The program is taught by experienced professionals who are engaged in the academic, finance, and technology communities.

The finance digital revolution is upon us, and our economy is becoming increasingly mobile and on-demand. Become an active participant in the movement and take the opportunity to learn new topics, network with like-minded individuals, and explore how companies are changing the way banking is conducted worldwide. Soon, you will become the face of the fintech revolution as well.

Josh Deems is an AVP and business strategist at State Street Corporation’s Emerging Technologies Center. Prior to joining State Street, Josh was a management consultant, focusing on operating model improvement and digital experience for asset managers. Josh holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from the George Washington University with a concentration in finance.

Picture of the author, Josh Deems

Josh Deems

 

GPS honors Vitaly Yurik with Excellence in Service Award

Faces of GPS | Vitaly Yurik

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Vitaly Yurik received this year’s award for Excellence in Service to Students and to the Division, distributed annually at the start of each GPS fall term.

“The recipient of the award will have consistently received high student evaluations and testimonials, and made contributions to the Division through their engagement in school activities and events,” introduced Anne Marando, the executive director of GPS. “The award this year has been made to Vitaly Yurik, who has taught for Graduate Professional Studies since its inception in 1997.”

Anne Marando, Executive Director of GPS, congratulating Dr. Vitaly Yurik.

Anne Marando, Executive Director of GPS, congratulating Dr. Vitaly Yurik

In his 19-year teaching career for GPS, Dr. Yurik has taught 1,590 students in the classroom and online. He has developed and taught 18 different courses, including Advanced Programming in Java, Levels 1, 2, and Expert; Design Patterns; Java Enterprise Programming; Object-Oriented Programming; Web Development Technologies, and many others.

Dr. Yurik consistently receives strong course evaluation ratings and comments from students who express gratitude for his teaching.

“Vitaly is a superb instructor. His material is flawless and he is exceptionally timely on grading,” said one of his former students. “This is very helpful when determining course expectations. I thought the course was great. It dove into EJB and Web services very well. The projects allowed you to apply what you learned. I also found the supplemental material very valuable, as it dove into areas such as how to get the require tools and configure your environment like maven, JBoss, ant, etc.”

Dr. Vitaly Yurik giving his acceptance speech.

Dr. Vitaly Yurik giving his acceptance speech.

Regarding service to the division, Marando shared that Vitaly was among the initial set of faculty who taught Software Engineering courses in the evenings. He helped to shape the curriculum, working with others on the development of new courses needed as our first program expanded.

“In thinking back, I believe he attended just about every on-campus information session held, every faculty meeting at the divisional and program levels, every networking event, and every Commencement,” Marando said.

We are proud to honor Vitaly for his meaningful teaching of our students, and for his contributions to Graduate Professional Studies.

Dr. Vitaly Yurik has been teaching at GPS since its inception in 1997.

Dr. Vitaly Yurik has been teaching at GPS since its inception in 1997.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

 

Innovation Experts Discuss the State of Fintech

On Aug. 18, 2016, Brandeis GPS hosted a webinar led by Ashley Nagle Eknaian, chair of the new Master of Science in Digital Innovation for FinTech, with Jason Zaler, FinTech Partnerships Lead at PwC. This interesting and interactive discussion helped us celebrate the launch of the program, which is welcoming its first students this fall.

Just voted #36 in Onalytica’s list of top 100 FinTech innovators and brands, Zaler offered valuable insight into the evolving world of FinTech and the many industries impacted by this important technology. Zaler began the discussion by pointing out the many ways that most people use FinTech in everyday life through apps such as Venmo, Square, mobile banking apps, and robo-advice services. Because FinTech’s reach is constantly increasing, Zaler stressed the need to continuously reassess the industry.

“Learning so much about what was happening and seeing how fast it changed drove us to reevaluate the way we deliver insight and consulting,” Zaler said. “It propels us to develop a platform to provide that information to clients in real time.”

Zaler and Eknaian also discussed Fintech’s role in financial service institutions, technology companies, pay networks, and of course, FinTech startups. These groups are all trying to figure out how to best interact with one another to understand and maximize the new technologies available — to create the perfect marriage between financial institutions and technological innovation. The dialogue and new questions springing from these groups constantly draw many into this emerging field.

Competition with FinTech startups
Today in FinTech, some of the most important services exist on the backend of operations that consumers don’t often see. For example, FinTech services are used to clean up bank ledgers.

FinTech startups are essentially disrupters in the industry, knocking out other companies who would otherwise control this back-end technology. In order to help customers, big financial institutions are directly acquiring apps and cutting out big companies, making the process more efficient. As there is a lot of competition in this evolving industry, better products are constantly coming out for people to use on a day-to-day basis.

“It’s really an ecosystem where there’s a lot of movement, a lot of competition,” said Zaler. “The thing to be aware of is that as these companies jockey for a position, there is one benefit to the consumers: better products with better interfaces that you can use in your daily lives.”

Keeping customers through FinTech
Today, banks are working toward keeping their customers from the time they open their first account in college to an eventual retirement. To carry customers through their banking journey, banks now offer FinTech services for each stage of a customer’s experience. Zaler noted that customers today use an average of three to five FinTech products, so banks want to make sure their FinTech app stays on their customers’ phones.

FinTech around the world
FinTech is now a global industry, with major hubs in Silicon Valley, New York, London, Singapore, Israel, Dublin and Scandinavia. Regulations imposed on FinTech companies are what shape each country’s approach to FinTech throughout the globe. While Europe has more regulations that prevent FinTech companies from partnering with banks, the regulatory policies in China focus on making it easier for FinTech products to come to market, which causes major fraud issues and mistrust of these products in potential customers. With 30 percent of FinTech companies now under investigation in China, companies need to convince people they’re trustworthy before they can even begin to directly market their products.

Zaler also went on to discuss the benefits of large financial institutions relying on startups for services. He noted that there are three ways to think about how financial institutions can get FinTech services:

  • Buying them from another provider
  • Partnering with another company
  • Building their own

While many companies do opt to build their own or partner with other companies, often startups are cheap and have already developed the technology the large financial institution is looking for, making it more cost effective to just buy the technology.

This webinar, held in conjunction with the announcement of the new MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech at Brandeis GPS concluded with Zaler giving suggestions of how to stay up to date with FinTech news through following key influencers on Twitter and using the Denovo site, built by his company, PwC.

Meet our newest student advisor

Faces of GPS | Q&A with Erin Flood

As we prepare to kick off the fall 2016 term, we’re excited to introduce you to one of the newer faces of GPS. Erin Flood, a GPS student advisor, joined us in July, and we are thrilled to have someone so dedicated and passionate about her work on our team.

Graduate Professional Studies: Welcome, Erin! Let’s start with an easy question — where are you from?

Erin Flood: I grew up in a small town in rural upstate New York, about an hour north of Syracuse.

GPS: What drew you to higher education?

EF: I’m passionate about learning for learning’s sake, and I also view educational access and success as an important social justice issue. In college, I studied psychology and religion. I was interested in how people behave and make decisions. While I was an undergrad and even in high school, I had always worked in education-related fields. My first job out of college was advising and preparing high school students from Dorchester, Mass, for college. I really enjoyed working with my students and ended up staying in touch with a lot of them throughout their college experience. I was really disappointed to hear about the lack of support many of them faced once they got to college. They didn’t always have someone they could turn to, specifically in terms of academic and career advising, since they didn’t necessarily know how to navigate higher ed, or what they wanted to do after graduation. This cemented my interest in advising even more. Between college and grad school, I worked for a few different universities and education-related non-profits, and then I went to grad school for an Ed.M. in Human Development and Psychology. I like working directly with students, and being at GPS in this role has offered me that opportunity.

Erin with two of her proud Dorchester Academy graduates (Karlos and Iyana, Class of 2011)

Erin with two of her proud Dorchester Academy graduates (Karlos and Iyana, Class of 2011)

GPS: Did you come straight out of your master’s program to Brandeis GPS?

EF: No, I worked at a community college in a rural area in Massachusetts immediately before joining GPS. Prior to that I was doing research, but I missed direct service and decided to go back to advising.

GPS: What are you most looking forward to here?

EF: Hands down getting to know my students. I can’t wait to learn more about what they’re excited about, what they’re learning at GPS, what their plans are. I’m looking forward to being useful to them. In advising, your students’ goals become your goals, so I’m excited to find out my students’ goals and, by extension, my own.

GPS: What is one thing you want your students to know about you?

EF: That I’m so excited to be here! That I genuinely care about my students and what they’re doing. I am open to helping them in any way I can. To my students: if you think of something that you want me to do, or if you have a question about something but you’re not really sure if that’s my job, reach out!

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Study Software Development in Java online at Brandeis this fall!

Did you know that Brandeis GPS offers courses for professional development? Enroll in an online course this fall and network with new colleagues in a 10-week, seminar-style online classroom capped at 20 students. Registration is now open and we’re celebrating by profiling our favorite fall courses.

Learn how to design and develop your own software and programs in Java this fall. With this 10-week, graduate-level course, you’ll learn advanced topics of Java programming language including generic programming and annotations, Java foundations classes (JFC),  and Java database connectivity (JDBC). By the end of the course, students should:

  • Design and develop programs in Java using inheritance, composition, interfaces, polymorphism, and exceptions
  • Design and develop programs in Java using Java Collection Framework
  • Design and develop graphical user interfaces (GUI) using Java Foundation Classes
  • Design and develop multithreaded Java programs
  • Design and develop networking Java programs
  • Design and develop Java programs using Java Database Connectivity (JDBC)
  • Design Java Classes

https://apply.gps.brandeis.edu/register/newstudent?utm_source=carnegie&utm_medium=coolcourses&utm_campaign=user-interface-register

Fall courses run Sept. 14-Nov. 22. Whether you’re looking to complete a full degree or advance your career through professional development, this course is designed to equip you with the necessary skills for making an impact in any industry or organization.

How it works:
Take a part-time, online course this fall without enrolling in one of our graduate programs. If you like what you learn and want to continue your education, you can apply your credits from this fall toward a future degree. Questions? Contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787 or fill out our first-time registration form and we’ll be in touch.

Study digital ethics & the legal landscape of instructional design online at Brandeis

Did you know that Brandeis GPS offers courses for professional development? Enroll in an online course this fall and network with new colleagues in a 10-week, seminar-style online classroom capped at 20 students. Registration is now open and we’re celebrating by profiling our favorite fall courses.

Immerse yourself in the legal and ethical boundaries that shape the e-learning technology profession. This course examine legal issues arising from intellectual property, copyright law (including the fair use exception, the TEACH Act, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act), federal laws related to accessibility for learners with disabilities, and FERPA, a federal law that protects the privacy of education records.

Students will apply laws to realistic scenarios that arise in the design setting, developing best practices to minimize liability risk. Students will also explore the ethical challenges that arise in practice, including the creation of instructional materials that support a diverse learner audience, implications of the “digital divide,” and conflicts of interest stemming from opportunities for personal gain outside of the employment relationship. Students will work to develop their own ethical code to guide their professional paths.

Fall courses run Sept. 14-Nov. 22. Whether you’re looking to complete a full degree or advance your career through professional development, this course is designed to equip you with the necessary skills for making an impact in any industry or organization.

How it works:
Take a part-time, online course this fall without enrolling in one of our graduate programs. If you like what you learn and want to continue your education, you can apply your credits from this fall toward a future degree. Questions? Contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787 or fill out our first-time registration form and we’ll be in touch.

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