Finance 500K Financial Consulting Seminar

Phil Dybvig
314-398-3186 (cell)
Washington University Olin School

Focus: Bringing Financial Tools and Concepts to Practice

Students will work on projects with sponsors, and it is my job to do what can be done to facilitate and enrich the experience.

Prerequisites Third semester standing in the MSF Quant track. Students will receive assigments to projects around the start of classes.

Feedback Feedback is especially appreciated. I will give a modest amount of course credit for good suggestions on how to improve the course.

Organization of the course At the start of the course, the students will draft a proposal similar to a proposal that would be submitted in response to a Request for Proposal in practice. Each student group will normally meet with me at least once per week during mini A to keep me informed on the progress in the project and to discuss any issues that may arise. There are two meetings of the full class, the initial class (on September 6) for an introduction and the final class (on November 29) for final presentations by all the student groups. The final presentation comes near the end of the Fall Semester to make sure there is time to complete work for the sponsor before the presentation (and even with this much time, many groups are racing to finish). Both sessions will meet 6:15-9:15 in Simon 109.

Course Requirements Grades will be based 60% on the sponsor's evaluation, 30% on my evaluation of the work of the group, and 10% on peer evaluation. My own evaluation of the work in the project will be based on the success in "bringing the project to the next level" by incorporating theory and concepts from the academic training including my work with the students, and in addition the professionalism and success of the group. These percentages and criterion for evaluation are defaults, and each student group can change the criteron for evaluation if the instructor and sponsor agree. In general, all the students are responsible for the success of the project, and if you divide duties in the group you are still responsible for monitoring the other students and doing what is needed for the success of the group.

Attendance Attendance for the final presentations is required, and there will be a grading penalty for any student who misses the final presentations. In general, all group members are expected to be fully engaged in the group throughout the semester, and this means you should be in residence in Saint Louis. It seems like it might be possible for a well-organized student to contribute to a project from a distance, but in practice this has been a disaster for the sponsor, the other students, and the university.

Confidentiality Financial firms are in information businesses, and confidentiality is extremely important, for business and contractual reasons. Here are some examples:

This is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully will make it clear why financial firms are very sensitive to issues of confidentiality, even to the point of being reluctant to hire student interns or any outside consultants. It is extremely important for students to respect the confidentiality of the sponsors' proprietary information, and that is why a section on confidentiality is required in the proposal. Any breach of a firm's confidentiality is a very serious matter and is likely to be referred to the school's disciplinary committee.

Proposal As in a consulting engagement in practice, communications are very important. Having a formal written document that spells out expectations is very useful for avoiding misunderstandings later. In practice, a firm wanting to hire a consultant will often send out a Request for Proposal (RFP, sometimes called Request for Proposals). A consultant can reply by sending in a proposal describing the terms on which they would be willing to meet the needs described in the RFP. Proposals in practice would include payment amounts and arrangements not appropriate for us (since these arrangements will already have been made). For us, we need at minimum:

Most groups should converge on agreement on the proposal by the end of September, but to do so will take a concerted effort.

Course materials Beyond this syllabus, there are no separate course materials (textbook, slides, problem sets, or packet).

Feel free to contact me anytime. My Weixin (WeChat) id is PhilDybvig; that is probably the quickest way of reaching me. Or send me an E-mail at or call or text at 314-398-3196.

About me I was previously a tenured full professor at Yale, and I came to Wash U in 1988 with a charge to build a top finance group, which we have done. More information on me is in the chatty blurb at or in my vitae at All of these pages can be accessed through my home page, and I invite you to visit there.

Integrity and Professionalism Students are expected to conform to the Olin School's Honor Code and Code of Professionalism. I will report any violations to the Disciplinary Committee (with considerable sadness but a strong sense of duty).

Other resources See the Appendix below for links to university resources for students who have experienced sexual assault, bias, or mental health difficulties.

Summary Working for the sponsors should be a great experience, and I want to do anything I can to help to make it better.

APPENDIX: some additional resources

Accommodations based upon sexual assault The University is committed to offering reasonable academic accommodations to students who are victims of sexual assault. Students are eligible for accommodation regardless of whether they seek criminal or disciplinary action. Depending on the specific nature of the allegation, such measures may include but are not limited to: implementation of a no-contact order, course/classroom assignment changes, and other academic support services and accommodations. If you need to request such accommodations, please direct your request to Kim Webb (, Director of the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center. Ms. Webb is a confidential resource; however, requests for accommodations will be shared with the appropriate University administration and faculty. The University will maintain as confidential any accommodations or protective measures provided to an individual student so long as it does not impair the ability to provide such measures.

If a student comes to me to discuss or disclose an instance of sexual assault, sex discrimination, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence or stalking, or if I otherwise observe or become aware of such an allegation, I will keep the information as private as I can, but as a faculty member of Washington University, I am required to immediately report it to my Department Chair or Dean or directly to Ms. Jessica Kennedy, the University's Title IX Coordinator. If you would like to speak with the Title IX Coordinator directly, Ms. Kennedy can be reached at (314) 935-3118,, or by visiting her office in the Women's Building. Additionally, you can report incidents or complaints to Tamara King, Associate Dean for Students and Director of Student Conduct, or by contacting WUPD at (314) 935-5555 or your local law enforcement agency.

You can also speak confidentially and learn more about available resources at the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center by calling (314) 935-8761 or visiting the 4th floor of Seigle Hall.

Bias Reporting The University has a process through which students, faculty, staff and community members who have experienced or witnessed incidents of bias, prejudice or discrimination against a student can report their experiences to the University's Bias Report and Support System (BRSS) team. See

Mental Health Mental Health Services' professional staff members work with students to resolve personal and interpersonal difficulties, many of which can affect the academic experience. These include conflicts with or worry about friends or family, concerns about eating or drinking patterns, and feelings of anxiety and depression. See