Director Speak: Interview of Prof. D S Rao from FLAME School of Business

FLAME School of business recently got welcomed into the CFA Institute recognition program. What’s the strategic value of such a program for you?

FLAME School of Business is only the 2nd institute in India to be accepted into the CFA Institute Recognition Program. We received this coveted recognition on August 29, 2013. Entry into the CFA Institute Recognition Program signals to potential students, employers, and the marketplace that the FLAME School of Business curriculum is closely tied to professional practice and is well-suited to preparing students to sit for the CFA examinations. Through participation in this program, FLAME School of Business receives a limited number of student scholarships for the CFA Program each year. This program positions students well to obtain the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation, which has become the most respected and recognized investment credential in the world.

Additionally, the CFA Institute Recognition takes FLAME School of Business one step closer in realizing its goal of becoming the business school of choice for students aspiring for a career in investments, financial markets and financial institutions.

Our country is ripe with examples where copying any existing trend is normal. How would you cope with such instances from colleges who can go after the same recognition program by CFA Institute?

Achieving the recognition is only the first step. Staying on the course, executing, building networks, meeting student expectations and investing resources to ensure that our curriculum is closely tied to the CFA curriculum make the recognition successful. The investment background of our Board of Governors is an added advantage.

We cannot control what other institutes do. We concentrate on things that are in our control. Through strengthening our internal processes and concentrating on curriculum innovations, we are confident of becoming the business school of choice for students aspiring for a career in investments, financial markets and financial institutions. The CFA Institute Recognition is a testament in our journey towards achieving our goal.

What are the chief components of your program that enabled this recognition?

FLAME School of Business has been acknowledged as incorporating at least 70 percent of the CFA Program Candidate Body of Knowledge (CBOK) and placing emphasis on the CFA Institute Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice within the program. In addition to the curriculum, the strength of our faculty resources was one of the major components that enabled this recognition.

FLAME’s initiative called the FLAME Investment Lab (FIL) that delivers the concepts of value investing to interested students was also an enabling factor. Students get hands-on experience about the world of investments by participating in the CFA Institute Research Challenge, attending investor conferences, forming their own portfolio through the funds received from the institute by following a rigorous research process and interacting with eminent investors. Eminent investors like Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Ramesh Damani, Madhusudan Kela, Raamdeo Agrawal, Sunil Singhania and Parag Parikh amongst others have addressed our students. Students have access of Thomson Reuters and CRISIL Research amongst other databases.All this have led us in achieving this coveted recognition.

Do you think Government regulators in India are bottlenecks to the growth of Management institutions? Will you support deregulation of professional education programs like PGDM?

No, we think Management institutes have had a very conducive environment. This is visible with the mushrooming of the number of Management institutes in the country. Like every industry, even this is going through a phase of a mismatch between demand and supply. Innovation and differentiation will be the hallmarks of the surviving institutes. Autonomy with a quality control regulatory body is the need of the hour.

What’s the kind of candidate profile you would accept for your program (linked to the CFA Institute)? Are there any additional competencies?

For the program linked to the CFA Institute, students who have the aspirations for a successful career in investments, financial markets and financial institutions are encouraged to apply. We look for students who share our conviction in value investing and behavioral finance. Each student is evaluated on several criteria to ensure that selected students are well-rounded individuals with capacities of contributing to classroom participation and peer learning. Students with commitment and passion for the field of investments are highly encouraged.

We have a selection process that is designed to ensure that students who have the ability to explore and achieve, succeed. We do not only look for just academic scores, but also test logical reasoning, communication, an ability to observe, identify and convey ideas, lucidity of thoughts, a sense of vision and purpose, and above all a zeal to learn. We also gauge the motivational level and the student’s ability to work in a group.