Behavioural Finance and Wealth Management (not offered)

FIE434 Behavioural Finance and Wealth Management (not offered)

Autumn 2021

  • Topics

    This course provides a broad, up-to-date understanding of behavioral finance in general and its applications to wealth management and financial advice in particular.

    Behavioral Biases -  Why people consistently make certain financial decision-making mistakes? To answer this question, we borrow some insights from neuroscience, cultural finance, and psychology as applied to financial decision-making. This helps us understand why standard financial and economic models make certain predictions about how people should make financial decisions that are routinely and predictably violated. Moreover, we discuss why certain financial decision-making biases are much easier to be mitigated or avoided than others. 

    Decision Theory -  We take a closer look into issues of decision theory, and how a behavioral framework could better describe diverse financial phenomena, comparing them with more traditional rational-agent models used in Finance. Then, we discuss behavioral-decision theory applications for a range of investment and wealth management problems. Our focus is on structured financial products that allow for investors' non-standard preferences, misplaced beliefs, and biased decision-making process.

    Wealth Management -  What comprises good financial advice? In this final module, we take our behavioral framework to financial advice and wealth management, considering the impact of European regulations (MiFID). We show how our knowledge of investors' behavior, their biases, styles, preferences, and other characteristics can help financial professionals to provide better advice for their clients. We examine the role of new technological tools, such as investment robots and investor profilers, in wealth management and financial advice.

  • Learning outcome

    Knowledge - The candidate will:

    • gain advanced knowledge on different behavioral biases (e.g., home bias, disposition effect, gambler`s fallacy,...), and their effects on investment decisions.
    • understand the cultural differences responsible for those biases and will be able to structure the biases based on neurofinance research into hard and soft biases.
    • understand rational and behavioral decision theories (e.g. mean-variance, expected utility and prospect theory) and its application to the designs of structured products and the construction of portfolios.

    Skills - The candidate will be able to design:

    • structured wealth management processes based on behavioral finance.
    • risk profiling tools that are MiFID compliant and based on behavioral finance.
    • fair structured products.

    General competence - The candidate will:

    • become a valuable employee for financial advisors or the regulator thereof.
    • be able to set up their own advisory business, e.g. as a fintech.

  • Teaching

    Teaching is mainly based on theories, that are illustrated by examples, cases, and interactive applications. There will be one workshop session to solve questions from previous exams.

  • Recommended prerequisites

    Basic knowledge in Mathematics and Statistics (bachelor level).

  • Required prerequisites

    One of the following:

    • FIE400x - Investments
    • ECN401 - Microeconomic Theory with Applications

  • Requirements for course approval

    Due to the coronapandemic there will be no a course qualification requirement (since the assignment that counted for this has been extended to become a graded term-paper) in the spring semester of 2020.

    Students will work in groups to solve and present one assignment. Completion of the assignment is a prerequisite to sit the exam. At least one member of each group must present, in person, the results on the scheduled meeting.

  • Assessment

    Due to the ongoing Corona pandemic, the assessment for the spring semester 2020 has been changed:

    Term paper (100%)


    Original assessment form spring 2020 - cancelled:

    The final grade is based on the final 4-hour written exam in which students are expected to demonstrate their skills in giving good advice by knowing behavioral biases and decision theories, and by solving case studies and exercises based on content discussed in class.

    The exam will be written in English and has to be answered in English.

  • Grading Scale

    Grading scale spring 2020:


    (Originally planned: A-F)

  • Literature

    • Behavioral Finance for Private Banking . Thorsten Hens, Kremena Bachmann, and Enrico De Giorgi. Wiley Finance: 2018 (2nd edition) [digital copies available through NHH library]
    • Lecture notes and teaching slides [available on Canvas]
    • Interactive diagnosis tools, documentaries and other materials [free online web access] 


ECTS Credits
Teaching language

Spring. Not offered Spring 2021.

Course responsible

Professor Torsten Hens, Department of Finance, NHH; Department of Banking and Finance, University of Zurich.