It represents the merging of two existing schools – the School of Financial Planning and Insurance and the School of Investment and Banking – which will create a new entity focused on providing vital training, undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications for professionals working in an increasingly complex financial services landscape.
Private higher education provider, Milpark Education, is launching a new School of Financial Services on 16 March 2023.
Two of its current schools – the School of Financial Planning and Insurance and the School of Investments and Banking – will combine to form the new institution, which is explicitly geared towards equipping students for the fast-paced financial services industry.
"There is a lot of appetite in the market right now for qualifications relating to risk and insurance," says Pietro Odendaal, Academic Head of School: Financial Services. "As the industry evolves and becomes more complex, there is a need and a call for individuals with appropriate qualifications and relevant industry knowledge."
David Venter, the Head of School: Strategy, Operations and Student Experience, agrees, "There is a growing need for not only multi-skilled individuals, but for learning that equips this market with skills and competencies that prepare them for an ever-evolving world of work," he says.
"There are more diverse product offerings in the financial services domain, and it makes sense to combine our efforts into one school, with a unified and streamlined approach to better serve the financial services industry."
Statistics South Africa shows that the country is struggling to win back the jobs lost as a result of COVID-19. Unemployment is still high at over 30% and the only sector that showed any growth in the fourth quarter of 2022 was the financial services industry, which employed 103 000 more people. This illustrates the need for professionals as well as the opportunities that exist for graduates in these areas.
"We have identified a gap in the market when it comes to risk management and short-term insurance in particular," says Odendaal. "There is a lack of postgraduate qualifications that you can do in SA that focus specifically on this area." She adds that the risk and insurance department has been one of the fastest growing departments within the former School of Financial Planning and Insurance.
The banking industry is part of the industry that is changing rapidly as operations become increasingly digitalised and institutions adapt to meet customer demands for virtual and telephonic interactions and digital payments.
Milpark has devised training programmes for banking clients to retrain bank tellers as financial advisors and recently customised the programme for a major banking client. Venter says, "As customer and client needs change, we see a shortage of adequate training programmes and expert upskilling, which the School of Financial Services will be able to offer."
He adds that a big advantage of the School of Financial Services is that almost all lecturers have extensive industry experience working with clients in a professional setting. Programmes designed for corporate clients are offered, as well as qualifications for industry practitioners.
"Almost our entire faculty is composed of industry experts who have a passion for the sector and want to see it serve customers better," says Venter, stressing how different this is from most traditional university settings, where there is less of an emphasis on the real world experience of faculty members.
The flagship programme of the School of Financial Service's will be the Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning, which prepares students to become a Certified Financial Planner® professional, or CFP®, an internationally recognised designation.
All the programmes are fully online with course material available via a dynamic virtual learning environment with forums, live classes, and videos. Whether students are working full-time or living in South Africa or abroad, programme structures remain flexible and designed around individuals. Online support and one-on-one virtual meetings are available to students to keep them motivated and on track.
The new School of Financial Services joins the School of Professional Accounting, the School of Commerce, and the Business School as part of the Milpark Education brand.