Finance and Statistical Analysis (FSA) is one of four departments in the Alberta School of Business at the University of Alberta, and is one of the University's major centres of research, public policy analysis and education. It ranks 27th in the world in terms of research impact.
The department has an unusual composition, arising from the historical development of the Alberta School of Business. When the School formed departments in the mid-1970s, FSA drew its membership from a diverse group of academic staff with specialties in economics, operations research (in more recent usage, operations management), finance and statistics. The members of the group had the common connection of interest in formal models and quantitative empirical research. However, even though the department shared common methodology and background, they were diverse when categorized within accepted academic fields.
By the 1980s, a strong finance field had coalesced which roughly divided the department into half finance and half "management science," with the latter approximately split between business statistics and operations management. This halving and quartering was not the result of irresolution but of the need for a variety of skills in the delivery of the School's teaching programs. By 1997, a new curriculum had reduced teaching needs in business statistics, permitting the department to concentrate its recruitment of staff in two fields, finance and operations management. The increased opportunity for concentration allowed the department to strength its research presence in these fields.
In the fall of 2009, another change occurred to the department, with the operations management group moving to the Department of Accounting, Operations and Information Systems. This realignment is expected to allow two small groups (operations management and management information systems) to unite and form a critical mass which will provide benefit to the entire Business School.
The Department of Finance and Statistical Analysis is home to some of the University's most talented professional educators and staff. As well, we are frequently called upon to consult with the media or members of the national and international business community.
Faculty on the finance side study the economics of capital markets – asset pricing (all aspects of financial markets, banking, derivative securities, emerging markets, and so on) and corporate finance (including corporate governance, capital project evaluation, bankruptcies, takeovers, and divestitures). Randall Morck, Jarislowsky Distinguished Chair in Finance, is also a University Distinguished Professor (the university’s highest academic rank) and a Research Associate with the prestigious National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge. He is Canada’s most highly cited finance researcher, and his work is internationally recognized. Mark R. Huson, Pocklington Professor of Private Enterprise, is recognized in North America as an expert in executive contracting focusing on CEO turnover and compensation. Vikas Mehrotra, A. F. (Chip) Collins Professor of Finance and current department chair, has made important contributions to our understanding of corporate restructuring.
Faculty in business statistics study the operations of the firm and apply statistical methods and mathematical models to support their research. The department has expertise and focus in management of uncertainty and labour statistics. Alice Nakamura, one of Canada’s most widely cited female economists, is past president of the Canadian Economics Association, a globally recognized econometrician, and a prominent policy advisor in Ottawa.
These senior scholars, plus one of the brightest constellations of junior researchers in Canada, make the Finance and Statistical Analysis Department at the University of Alberta one of North America’s research hot spots.
Student Clubs and Special Programs
The Investors' Club, a student group in the Alberta School of Business, is designed to educate its members in the areas of investment and financial management. The club is open to students of all faculties, whether they are seasoned or novice investors. The club runs a mock stock market, sponsors guest speakers and career forums, and coordinates student applications for the Canadian Securities Course. Their faculty advisor is a member of the FSA Department.
The Program for Research and Investment Management Excellence (PRIME) teaches business students about investments and investment strategies through active management of a real investment portfolio which is sponsored by the Alberta School of Business at the University of Alberta and the Edmonton Society of Financial Analysts. Collectively, PRIME's sponsors have contributed over $550,000. The program requires a two-year commitment by students during their third and fourth years of University. During their third year, PRIME students serve as analysts and must enroll in Finance 412 (Investment Principles) and Finance 416 (Advanced Portfolio Management). Analysts also participate in a mentoring program, where they are assigned to a practicing Chartered Financial Analyst. These mentors provide (1) access to additional investment information services, such as Bloomberg and First Call earnings estimates, and (2) seminars for PRIME students on topics such as industry, sector and firm analysis, and overall portfolio management. Additionally, analysts have a support role in the portfolio management decisions of the fourth year students who manage the PRIME Fund. During their fourth year, portfolio managers enroll in Finance 436 (Investment Management) in which they obtain course credit for the experience of managing the PRIME Fund. In making asset acquisition and divestiture decisions within the institutional framework of the fund, managers interact extensively with each other, the faculty advisor and mentors. Finance 436 draws on and unifies the investment management skills and portfolio theory that are developed in Finance 412 and Finance 416. Additionally, students learn about the differences between institutional and personal investment decisions, the mechanics of trading, the different providers of trading services, and cash management.