Interview with Dr. Arvid Hoffmann, co-organiser of the 2015 GSBE Marketing-Finance Symposium

Mastering today’s competitive business environment requires a new level of understanding between marketing and finance. To build a unified strategy across different business functions, it is important to provide a platform for intellectual exchange on how firms balance financial accountability and customer responsibilities.

The third GSBE Marketing-Finance Symposium, hosted by the School of Business and Economics (SBE) and the Graduate School of Business and Economics at Maastricht University, takes place 8 October. This year’s symposium has been jointly organised by the Marketing-Finance Research Lab and Dr. Arvid Hoffmann, Dr. Nikos Kalogeras and Prof. Dr. Ir. Joost Pennings.

Dr. Hoffmann talked with us about the idea behind the symposium, and what participants can expect to gain from it.

This year’s symposium focuses on the relationship between finance and marketing. These seem at first to be fairly distant disciplines. What is the link?
The finance discipline has a lot of technical expertise in developing innovative financial products, but it is the marketing discipline that has the tools to uncover which financial innovations are desired by consumers and extract their willingness-to-pay for such products. On the other hand, while marketing knows all about customer satisfaction and segmentation, it is finance who has the knowledge and econometric skills to decide which consumers are worth chasing after and try to satisfy in terms of their customer lifetime value. So, although marketing and finance seem fairly distant disciplines at first sight, they both need and strengthen each other.

mfsymp15_1In 2008 you launched a master’s track in Marketing-Finance. Can you tell me about this programme and has it been a success?
There was no educational programme that prepared students for managerial action in the field of marketing, consumer financial services, financial services and risk management, and the marketing-finance interface in particular. However, companies cannot do without people who act as a linking-pin between their marketing and finance departments, professionals that can analyse, evaluate, and consult organisations on the role of those marketing strategies that ultimately enhance financial performance. In September 2008, we initiated the Marketing-Finance Master programme. This programme is driven by industry demand and connects practical problems with the most recent scientific insights. The program is headed by me. The programme is a great success: every year, more than 50 students graduate, the program receives enthusiastic response from business leaders in well-know companies such as Deutsche Bank, Fidelity, Procter & Gamble, Deloitte, Simon Kucher and Partners, ING, Unilever, etc. Typically, students already have a job before they officially graduate, because of the large business demand.

The 8 October symposium features some impressive international speakers. Can you talk a little bit about who is speaking and what kinds of ground they will cover?
The symposium will be opened by our dean, Prof. Dr. Philip Vergauwen, after which business leaders and international professors will engage in an interactive discussion on such topics as consumer financial decision-making, risk management and so on. We have speakers like Prof. Dr. Andreas Hackethal, dean of the business school at Goethe University Frankfurt, who will talk about behavioral aspects of investor behaviour, and Prof. Dr. Joost Pennings from Maastricht University (UM), who will talk about risk management. Moreover, we have business speakers from Fidelity Worldwide Investment, who will discuss investing behavior of individuals, policy regulators from the Dutch Authority for Financial Markets (AFM) who will talk about financial product development and speakers from PGGM, who will discuss the renewed role of cooperatives.

What can attendees hope to gain from attending the symposium?
Attendees will be exposed to the latest insights in research, business practice and policy viewpoints regarding timely and important questions related to consumer financial decision-making, risk management, financial product development and cooperatives. The symposium aims to be an interactive forum to share and gain knowledge and provide plenty of networking opportunities for both academics and business leaders alike from the region as well as internationally. We know from previous editions of the symposium that the symposium is a fertile ground to start new collaborations to bridge the gap between business and academia. As an example, Fidelity Worldwide Investment attended the 2013 edition, and subsequently become member of the Marketing-Finance Company Circle as well as main sponsor of this year’s symposium.

What is meant by “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” the theme of this year’s symposium, when it comes to the relationship between finance and marketing in the business world?
This phrase of the conference theme indicates that although both marketing and finance are valuable disciplines by themselves, much more shareholder and stakeholder value can be created when these disciplines team up and reinforce each other’s strengths while bridging each other’s limitations.

How will a combined understanding of finance and marketing give players in the business world an advantage in the future?
When one assesses one’s competitive environment from a single discipline (be it marketing or finance), business players run the risk of getting a myopic view, overlooking strategic opportunities, or missing long-term threats to their business model. Integrating key features of both the marketing and the finance discipline provides a strong lens through which to view one’s environment and create shareholder and stakeholder value, understand consumer financial decision-making, and develop new products that clients value and make business sense.

Registration:
To register, simply send an email to: registration@marketing-finance.nl indicating your (full) name, contact email address, and affiliation (university/company/institute). There is a participation fee of €100 for academics, and €150 for practitioners. The fee includes refreshment breaks, lunch, and a networking reception. In order to keep up the high quality of the symposium and to ensure vibrant discussion, there is only a limited quantity of 70 places available. It is also still possible to register by contacting Dr. Arvid Hoffmann directly at a.hoffmann@maastrichtuniversity.nl.

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