Finance (FIN) 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, the then department of Finance and Management Science 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 (AOIS). This realignment allowed two small groups (operations management and management information systems) to unite and form a critical mass which would benefit the entire Business School. The new department was renamed Finance and Statistical Analysis. As of July 1, 2019, the business statistics group also moved to AOIS, and the remaining group becomes the department of Finance
The Department of Finance 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 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, Dianne and Irving Kipnes Professor in Finance and Development, 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, has made important contributions to our understanding of corporate restructuring.
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 Business Finance Association, a student group in the Alberta School of Business, began in 1985 as the Investors Club and was dedicated to promoting a greater awareness and understanding of securities markets. From this inception, the Investors Club grew quickly to over 150 members in 1987, and eventually became the single largest business student group on campus, boasting a student membership of over 300 members. With annual events including frequent speaker sessions, the mock market simulation and an investment career forum, the Investors Club served as a direct link between motivated students and Investment professionals throughout Alberta for over 20 years. In 2010, the Investors Club was broadened in scope to include the numerous areas of finance beyond that of pure investing, and the club was consequently rebranded as the Business Finance Association (BFA) to reflect this. The club aims to educate students on the various career paths available to them within the vast world of finance, bridge communication between the student body and the finance industry, and provide a conduit through which like minded students can expand their peer networks.
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 enrol 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 enrol 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.