Group Research Paper (40%)

The group research paper (3000–4000 words) is due at the end of semester and will count for 40% of your grade. The paper should be a recommendation memo within one financial sector being materially transformed by technology as if you were advising the CEO of either a major bank (Bank of America’s Brian Moynihan), a big tech firm (Amazon’s Jeff Bezos), or a major VC firm (Andreessen Horowitz’s Marc Andreessen). The purpose of the memo is to express a clear and well-reasoned point of view (along with a market analysis) to your chosen CEO on your recommended business and technology strategy within a particular financial sector. The specific financial sector can be chosen from amongst payments, lending, capital markets, trading, asset management, risk management, or insurance. Your recommendation and analysis should take into consideration your respective organization’s (Bank of America, Amazon, or Andreessen Horowitz’s) characteristics, opportunities, and risks within that sector. You should form your groups and submit what sector your group wishes to address by Class #4. You can work in teams of 3–4 people on this project. It is also recommended that each team set up time to meet with faculty to discuss their papers.

The goal of the group paper is to show critical analysis and understanding of FinTech through the developments in one financial sector in the context of a business recommendation to a real CEO. Analyzing FinTech trends and opportunities in the specific financial sector along with the competitive landscape in the space (traditional incumbents and FinTech disrupters), your group should provide a critical discussion of the particular financial sector and how technology, data analytics, customer access may be shaping the opportunities and products you recommend in the sector.

Your group research paper—though benefiting from the individual write-ups submitted earlier by each of your team members—should go further in presenting your joint views, particularly as to the strategic recommendation to the CEO.

Individual Business Write-ups (30%)

After forming your groups (by Class #3), each individual is to complete a brief write-up (900–1200 words) with regard to one area of analysis of your team’s chosen financial sector. Groups should ensure that one student individually addresses each of the following for the chosen sector: a) overall sector market analysis, b) technology trend analysis, c) traditional competitor analysis d) FinTech startup and big tech competitive analysis. (Three-person groups might have one person combine any two of these.)

The focus of the individual write-up should be analytically judgmental and evaluative of the financial and business considerations of your specific part of the analysis. You should be original and write what you think.

Class Participation (30%)

Prior preparation of the assigned readings is essential background for the lectures and class discussions, particularly as we will build upon the material in our sessions. You should draw on your own experiences and perspectives as much as possible, but you need to do the reading in order to contribute effectively to the flow of the discussion. Please come to class prepared to engage, listen, and learn.

Because this class was set to begin just as the Covid-19 pandemic began in the U.S., all classes were held virtually over Zoom. Classes will be offered in real-time online via Zoom as regularly scheduled. Everyone is asked to attend in person (synchronously) and contribute to discussions during the sessions as active participation in the discussion during class is integral to the design of this course.

Though these are unprecedented times, and many will be experiencing remote classes for the first time, there will be multiple ways to contribute to classroom discussions. The Zoom participant feature provides an easy way to be recognized through the ‘raised hand’ button. The Zoom chat feature provides a way for students to share thoughts across the class during the discussion and presentations. The Teaching Assistant will monitor these features during class acting as a moderator recognizing students wanting to speak or have questions addressed. Though naturally different than an in-classroom experience, we still are striving for an engaging shared discussion and lively experience. We ask that you be attentive, keep your video on, and audio muted until speaking to the class. (‘Zoom etiquette’) We recognize that there will be the occasional interruptions of your home lives—roommates, family, children, or pets joining the video class, so to speak.

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