University of Toronto launches fintech hub

The university's business school is looking to be a leader in technological innovation in finance.
Rotman in the Fall

The University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management is launching of a new initiative to spur innovation in the fintech space.

The Rotman Financial Innovation Hub in Advanced Analytics – or FinHub, if that’s a mouthful – will offer new classes, conduct research into the applications of technology like machine learning and blockchain and drive engagement with the financial services industry.

Collaboration is also a key aspect of FinHub, which will work closely with the school’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and computer science program. It will also work with Rotman’s existing assets, like the Creative Destruction Lab entrepreneurship hub or BMO Finance Research and Trading Lab.

FinHub is being supported by a $1 million investment by TD.

“There’s a lot of disruption in the financial services industry,” said Peter Christoffersen, professor of finance at Rotman, TMX chair in capital markets and academic director at FinHub, at an event announcing FinHub’s launch. “More and more, banking and financial services is becoming more like a technology industry, so we as a business school felt we had to respond.”

Post-secondary institutions across Canada have been launching new initiatives to become leaders in innovation, helped on by investments from the corporate world (especially from the financial industry) and the federal government’s own technology supercluster initiative.

What makes FinHub somewhat unique is that it is associated with a business school, not typically a department associated with the development of new technology. But the challenges, disruption and opportunity new technologies present are just as much a business problem as they are an engineering one.

At the FinHub launch event, Mariana Khapko, an assistant professor of finance at U of T Scarborough’s department of management, specifically pointed to how things like blockchain could significantly improve stock selling and trading by eliminating delays in the process – if the business world learns how to properly adopt the technology.

“Toronto’s fintech ecosystem is among the best in the world and Rotman and the University of Toronto are leading financial educators. We think that’s a powerful combination,” said Christian Nelissen, SVP and head of enterprise data and analytics at TD.