Meet Helena Ramalhinho L..
Albert Banal Estañol is Associate Professor at the Pompeu Fabra University, Academic Director of the Master of Science in Finance and Banking at the BSM – Pompeu Fabra University, affiliated Professor at City University London, visiting professor at the IFP-Energies Nouvelles in Paris and research fellow at the SP-SP Public-Private Sector Research Center at the IESE Business School. Previously, he has held teaching and research positions at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, Northwestern University in the US, University of Cambridge, City University, UCL, and London Business School in the UK, and the University of Munich in Germany.
Good morning Professor. First, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Before starting with the actual interview, could you please tell us what your role is within the BSM-Pompeu Fabra University?
Can you describe what are your research interests?
My research interests are quite broad, and they touch several areas of Business and Economics. In particular, I am interested in Corporate Finance, Competition and Regulation, Energy Economics and Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
The BSM is renowned for being a rigorous academic institution and your field of research fits perfectly within such description. How did you decide that Finance was your final area of interest?
This is an interesting question because I started my university career studying Mathematics. In fact, I have a Bachelor Degree in Math. Then I joined a PhD program in Economics, and I have always been curious about Finance, hence while pursuing my PhD studies I took two times a break. One to work in a bank in Madrid and one to work in an Economic consulting firm in London. Moreover, during my PhD studies I spent a lot of time as a visiting researcher at the London Business School (LBS). LBS is in the heart of London and it is renowned for its Finance research group. I ended up choosing to specialize my research in Mergers & Acquisitions which is a field at the intersection between Economics and Finance.
That looks like a very interesting journey towards your academic career. Could you tell us more about it?
Well, when completed my PhD studies I managed to obtain my first academic placement in Canada, but then I felt like I wanted to come back to Europe, so I went back to the UK at Cambridge University, then I moved back to London at the City University of London and when I had the opportunity to come back to Barcelona in a prestigious institution such as UPF, I decided that it was the best decision to make.
We know that besides being an active academic in terms of research outcome, you have also been involved in consulting projects for the private sector. Does this have an impact when you teach a course to MSc students?
Yes, totally! For instance, I have been doing training and consulting for a regulator in the UK over the years in matters related to how to correctly price utility services for customers. In order to issue these kinds of advice I needed to perform a substantial amount of corporate valuation and this allows me to teach my students not only how corporate valuation is done in the books, but also how they are performed in the professional world.
The financial world is a constantly changing environment requiring people to acquire new knowledge. How does the BSM program face this challenge?
That is very true. The financial world is constantly evolving and there is a growing emphasis on tools and techniques. I believe that the MSc in Finance and Banking at the BSM is dealing with the challenge in an outstanding way. We constantly introduce courses covering the emerging topics in the financial world. For example, we now offer courses in Data Science, cryptocurrency, machine learning for finance and even robo-advising. All these courses have the aim to expose our students to the emerging fields in Finance with an applied point of view. These courses teach our students how to analyse data and how to interpret and understand machine learning techniques, but even our Econometrics course has a very practitioner-oriented focus. We create finance professionals who are able to understand the outcomes produced by data analysts.
Your last answer is perfect for us to ask you the following question: What is the competitive advantage of the MSc in Finance and Banking at the BSM?
I strongly believe that our master program is the perfect choice for a student who wants to grow in the financial profession. The practical orientation of our courses allows us to expose our students to all fields in Finance where they could possibly obtain a job. We want them to be exposed to the techniques that are the state of the art in finance. We need them to perform corporate valuation in excel and be able to interpret statistical and econometrics forecasting because this is what they will need to do when entering the finance world. Our program equips the students to work in any role within the financial sector.
Thank you very much Professor! Lastly, would you give any advice to both prospective and current MSc students?
I would tell them to always be curious and eager to learn new things. Make use of all the opportunities that our MSc programs and its faculties offer them and do not forget to also take advantage of living in a dynamic city like Barcelona.