In this four-course Specialization, you’ll learn the essential skills of portfolio management and personal investing.
All investors – from the largest wealth funds to the smallest individual investors – share common issues in investing: how to meet their liabilities, how to decide where to invest, and how much risk to take on. In this Specialization, you will learn how to think about, discuss, and formulate solutions to these investment questions. You will learn the theory and the real-world skills necessary to design, execute, and evaluate investment proposals that meet financial objectives. You will begin with an overview of global financial markets and instruments that characterize the investment opportunities available to today’s investor. You will then learn how to construct optimal portfolios that manage risk effectively, and how to capitalize on understanding behavioral biases and irrational behavior in financial markets. You will learn the best practices in portfolio management and performance evaluation as well as current investment strategies. By the end of your Capstone Project, you will have mastered the analytical tools, quantitative skills, and practical knowledge necessary for long-term investment management success.
Global Financial Markets and Instruments
Get a running start in the high-stakes world of financial investment! This first course is designed to help you become an informed investor by providing you with the essential concepts for long-term success in managing money. You’ll start by learning the role of financial markets and financial assets in a well-functioning economy. From there, you’ll learn about the wide range of financial instruments available in major asset classes, their features and valuations. You’ll explore how financial markets actually operate in the real world, focusing on how and where securities are traded and how various market types differ from one another in practice. You will also learn the basics of algorithmic trading, dark pools, buying on margin and short selling. By the end of the course, learners will be able to: • List and distinguish the different financial instruments available to an investor • Compare global financial markets • Explain the features of equity, debt, and derivative instruments • Define traditional and alternative asset classes • Discuss different trading venues and mechanics of securities trading • Discuss the current trends affecting today’s financial markets This course is designed to be accessible for students of all knowledge levels and gives you the actionable foundation needed to manage money in a post-crisis world.
WEEK 1 Module 1: Introduction & Review of Elementary Finance Tools This module introduces the Investment and Portfolio Management Specialization, which is made up of four courses. This module discusses how the first course, Global Financial Markets and Assets, is organized. It outlines the different stages of the investment management process, which guides the focus of the Specialization. It also reviews basic finance concepts and tools such as time value of money, computing returns, discounting and compounding. Topics covered include: • Familiarize with the organization of the class • Meet the professor and your peers • Explain the investment management process • Review elementary concepts in finance • Compute present value or future value of a single cash flow • Compute present value of future value of a stream of cash flows • Define an annuity or perpetuity • Apply time value of money tools to solve basic mortgage, loan or retirement problems
WEEK 2 Module 2: Financial system & financial assets: fixed income securities In this and the next two modules, we cover the key institutional features of financial markets and instruments. We ask the following questions: Why do financial markets exist? What role do they play? What are financial assets and how are they different than real assets? How does it all come together? Basically, this is where I hope you will get to see the big picture of the entire financial system and how it comes together. Module 2 focuses on fixed income securities. We'll get started with a review of basics of bond valuation. You will learn about short-term money market instruments, U.S. Treasury securities as well as corporate bonds. After module 2, you will be able to describe fixed income securities, be familiar with their institutional features, and identify their cash flows. Finally, you will learn how to value fixed income securities such as Treasury bills, zero-coupon or coupon-bonds and compute yields. Topics covered include: • Explain the roles of financial markets • Distinguish between real and financial assets • Define and explain money market instruments, zero-coupon and coupon- bonds and features • Identify the cash flows associated with fixed-income securities • Define and explain bond market features • List the different types of Treasury securities and explain pricing and quoting conventions • List and define other long-term debt instruments such as corporate bonds, mortgage-backed securities, sovereign debt • Find the value of a zero-coupon or coupon-bonds
WEEK 3 Module 3: Financial system & financial assets: equity securities and derivatives In Module 3, we continue our overview of financial markets and instruments. We next focus on two other major asset classes: equity securities and derivative instruments. You will learn about how equity differs from fixed income securities, the cash flows associated with stock and preferred stock and how to find the value of a share. You will also learn about option strategies. After completing module 3, you will be able to describe all major asset classes, including derivative instruments such as options, forwards and futures. You will be able to explain how these differ from each other and their payoffs. Topics covered include: • Distinguish between equities and fixed income securities • Define and explain the features of equity securities • Identify the cash flows associated with equity securities • Explain dividend discount model • Find the value of a share of common stock or preferred stock • Define and list different types of derivative securities • Explain option payoffs • Distinguish between a forward and futures contract • Explain forward and futures payoffs • Identify traditional and alternative asset classes
WEEK 4 Module 4: Organization of financial markets and securities trading In this module, we discuss how financial markets actually work. We will talk about different trading venues and the mechanics of securities trading. I will emphasize a lot of terminology and the latest trends in securities trading to familiarize you with the institutional workings of financial markets. After this module, you will be able to compare different trading venues, trading mechanisms, and be able to explain different types of orders, including transactions like margin buying and short- selling; you will be familiar with the language and terminology you need in order to become an informed practitioner of investments. Topics covered include • Explain the roles of corporations, households, government, and financial intermediaries in the financial system • Explain price discovery process • Define different type of orders • Distinguish between dealer vs. auction markets; different trading platforms • Explain margin buying and short-selling transactions • Understand the current trading environment such as algorithmic or high frequency trading, dark pools etc.
Portfolio Selection and Risk Management
When an investor is faced with a portfolio choice problem, the number of possible assets and the various combinations and proportions in which each can be held can seem overwhelming. In this course, you’ll learn the basic principles underlying optimal portfolio construction, diversification, and risk management. You’ll start by acquiring the tools to characterize an investor’s risk and return trade-off. You will next analyze how a portfolio choice problem can be structured and learn how to solve for and implement the optimal portfolio solution. Finally, you will learn about the main pricing models for equilibrium asset prices. Learners will: • Develop risk and return measures for portfolio of assets • Understand the main insights from modern portfolio theory based on diversification • Describe and identify efficient portfolios that manage risk effectively • Solve for portfolio with the best risk-return trade-offs • Understand how risk preference drive optimal asset allocation decisions • Describe and use equilibrium asset pricing models.
Biases and Portfolio Selection
Investors tend to be their own worst enemies. In this third course, you will learn how to capitalize on understanding behavioral biases and irrational behavior in financial markets. You will start by learning about the various behavioral biases – mistakes that investors make and understand their reasons. You will learn how to recognize your own mistakes as well as others’ and understand how these mistakes can affect investment decisions and financial markets. You will also explore how different preferences and investment horizons impact the optimal asset allocation choice. After this course, you will be more effective in overcoming biases to do the wrong things at the wrong times and tailoring an investment strategy that is best suited on your or your client’s profile and investment needs.
Investment Strategies and Portfolio Analysis
In this course, you will learn about latest investment strategies and performance evaluation. You will start by learning portfolio performance measures and discuss best practices in portfolio performance evaluation. You will explore different evaluation techniques such as style analysis and attribution analysis and apply them to evaluate different investment strategies. Special emphasis will be given to recent financial market innovations and current investment trends. After this course, learners will be able to: • Describe performance measurement measures • Evaluate portfolio performance • Describe and contrast different investment strategies • Propose investment strategy solutions
Capstone: Build a Winning Investment Portfolio
Put your investment and portfolio management knowledge to the test through five weeks of hands-on investment experiences: • Developing and managing your own simulated investment portfolio, resulting in a peer-graded report covering portfolio strategy, analysis, and performance • Advising case study clients on a variety of investment topics, essentially acting as an investment advisor in a simulated environment recommending strategies for and changes in portfolios based on challenges and issues faced by your clients • Using the sophisticated web-based analytical tools of Silicon Cloud Technologies LLC’s Portfolio Visualizer including portfolio mean variance optimization, historical and forecasted efficient frontiers, Fama-French factor models, and many more Your capstone experiences are directly applicable to managing real world investment portfolios and the final report can be shared with family, friends, and potential or current employers. By the end of the capstone project, you will have incorporated concepts from all four courses, including: • Analyzing multiple asset classes • Asset allocation and risk management • Current market trends • Behavioral finance • Investment styles and strategies • Financial market innovation • Investment performance evaluation