Written on 29 March 2022.
Grand witnesses 1/8 … A series of interviews in which EDHEC professors share their expertise through the prism of an academic programme in which they participate.
Philippe Foulquier is a professor-researcher in accounting and finance, and a specialist in the issues of value creation for organisations. As a corporate finance expert, he initiated the creation of the MSc in Corporate Finance in collaboration with Gohar Stepanyan, academic director. In this interview, he gives us the keys to better understand the current trends and issues in the corporate finance function.
In an age disrupted by digital technology and social and environmental changes, businesses need to find new levers to perform and create. In this respect, and with the particular aim of training leaders capable of handling these transformations, EDHEC Online is launching an MSc in Corporate Finance, taught entirely at distance. The programme seeks to transmit a holistic and more up to date vision of corporate finance, which takes into account all the issues now facing organisations, ranging from profitability to ESG.
In your opinion Philippe, what role does the finance function play in companies at the moment?
The finance function is a sort of dashboard. It provides a way of observing the efficiency of decisions taken in the past, with the aim of projecting into the future in terms of strategy or budget forecasts, etc. Consequently, a holistic approach to corporate finance – embracing all the issues faced by the company, from profitability through to sustainability – provides a means of ensuring that the company’s strategic choices are relevant over the long term and of identifying the decisions that have led to the creation of value.
What transformations does the finance function have to deal with?
The dominant vision in our business world – and one shared by the vast majority of companies – involves focusing the finance function solely on issues of margins and profits. This purely capitalistic approach dates from close to 120 years ago and is ill-suited to the current situation, where organisations are now also expected to perform on other criteria, notably environmental and social.
How can finance be used to help companies respond to these new issues?
If I can use an image, finance currently finds itself housed in an ivory tower within organisations. Finance speaks in a complex language and is a bit isolated from other entities within the company. Thanks to a holistic approach, we can reconnect it to all of the company’s departments and get them to unite and work together in pursuit of value creation.
How is this approach reflected in the MSc in Corporate Finance?
This new MSc aims to give learners all the keys they need to demystify finance within their organisations and to acculturate other departments to the benefits that the finance function can bring. The objective is to update the current model employed by companies – where the finance function operates alone – by showing a new way forward for finance.
How can EDHEC’s expertise in finance help to achieve this objective?
At EDHEC, our culture and our research work in the finance field* have enabled us to understand that finance must be steered through a single vision of performance that responds not just to financial criteria, but also to non-financial criteria such as parity and environmental impact. Our programmes, such as the MSc in Corporate Finance, are suffused with our research in finance, a field in which EDHEC commands a worldwide reputation.
What can an online track contribute to the understanding of corporate finance issues?
The programme’s teaching methods were devised to enable participants with non-financial backgrounds to understand the financial rationale of organisations. The programme allow us to reach different categories of learners, particularly international, so as to disseminate new practices all around the globe.
* For further reading