Frequently asked questions
Please note that I will answer your question here to make the answers available for everyone.
Q: Can I make an appointment with you?
No, please come to my office hours (without appointment).
Q: Can you please explain [any topic we discussed in class]?
Yes, please come to office hours, if possible with specific questions.
Q: When are your office hours? Where is your office?
You find information about office location and hours on Moodle.
Q: Do I have to read the course pack to pass the exam?
Q: Can I switch groups? My teammates never do any work and I don’t know how to deal with them.
You will have to deal with random people later in your life: this course gives you the opportunity to learn techniques to work with difficult people.
Q: Can you please record the lecture? I have an emergency and cannot come in person.
This course is based on discussions in class. Most of us get nervous in the presence of a camera and will be reluctant to speak up, depriving all of us of a good discussion. Therefore, we will not record the lectures.
Q: Are we expected to look online for information that the case text doesn’t cover?
No. Of course it is not forbidden either.
Q: Can we please get solutions for cases?
No. There are no solutions for cases as many “solutions” could be right. As for the analysis – we are not allowed to publish any details on those due to copyright issues of the cash publisher. Please take notes in the course where we discuss the cases to make sure that you remember the discussion.
Q: Are we expected to look online for information for the homework?
Q: I cannot find any information on my firm. What can I do?
The Datalibrary team at the library is very helpful in showing you our databases. Some firms are less transparent than others. If you do not have enough information indicate in your recommendations which information you need.
Q: I would like to make a proposal that goes beyond what we learned in class (like taking over another firm). Is that allowed?
Yes, as long as you also comment on the financing of your proposal. We need to see how much you learned about corporate finance.
Q: Our assignment company is perfect. What should we recommend?
No company is perfect, and because the future is not certain, there are always alternative options that a firm may take and you can suggest. Of course, they may not have a lot of potential to improve shareholder value, which is a pity if you wanted to actually post your proposal, but irrelevant for grading purposes.
Q: Should we attach our excel files?
The recommendations are meant to address a potential investor or your fellow shareholders. You should not submit anything you wouldn’t send that audience. Of course potential investors also need to understand your calculations (and that they are trustworthy). However, they may be more inclined to read your letter if you are able to summarize your calculations in a short but meaningful way.
Q: How will the exam look like?
It will be a case study with questions, just like the group work we did in class. Don’t worry, it will be a short case study, and we will test the reading time to make sure that you can make it in the exam reading time.
Q: How can I do valuation exercises in such a short time?
Valuation is essential to answering most of the questions we discuss in class and therefore you can expect in the exam. Of course, we don’t expect you to perform multi-period valuation with sensitivity analysis in the exam. A reasonable terminal-value type analysis for one period or a valuation using comparable firms is often enough to make first inferences. Do point out what type of analysis you would do if you had time.
Q: OK, is it enough to write something like “I cannot answer this question but I would do a valuation exercise”?
No. You will only get points for a sketch of an analysis if you point out step by step what you would do, in a way that convinces the grader that you would be able to do it.
Q: Can you please read the draft I sent you per email?
No, I will not review drafts or proposals or answer questions asked per email. Please come to my office hours and talk to me, which is much more efficient.
Q: Can I ask you a quick question?
Dissertations are meant to foster independent work. We will meet twice to talk about your dissertations. Please plan ahead make sure that these two meetings cover your questions instead of rushing in with the first difficulty you face.
Q: But I have not chosen my topic yet, so I can still come visit you as often as I want, right?
No, please prepare a proposal for a topic when you come to me the first time. I may ask you for revisions but can also refuse to supervise you if you come unprepared.
Q: I have no idea what topic to choose. Can you choose one for me?
You should come up with your own topic. If you need inspiration, here are some areas I’m currently interested in:
Foreign denominated debt
Venture capital in Africa
Bankruptcy in LBOs
Flotation method and investment banking market
Behavior at the end of lock-up perpiods
Social impact investing
Q: Can I write my dissertation on capital structure in my home country? I found a paper that uses US data and I would like to repeat the analysis on my country.
The dissertation should teach us something we did not know before, and it should show us that you are able to do independent research. Unless your country/ your case has some unique features that help us to understand the general topic (for example, a change in regulations that allows us to isolate causal effects), we won’t learn much from your exercise, and it will hard for you to pass.
Q: Can I write a theory dissertation?
My work is purely empirical and I won’t be able to give good guidance on theory. If you can work independently and without much guidance, you are welcome to do theory.
Q: Can I write a dissertation about valuation, with no reference on those corporate finance or corporate governance topics we talk about in class? After all, we had two lectures on valuation.
We teach valuation only as a tool to approach corporate finance problems. If you would like to study asset pricing in more detail, please write your dissertation in one of the many advanced asset pricing courses LSE offers.
Q: Where can I find literature on my topic?
Start with the main Finance journals (Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, Review of Financial Studies) and Economics journals. Look at the widely cited and relevant studies and the papers that cite them. Do not base all your analysis on papers in obscure journals that no other papers cite (yes, this happens very often). More recent papers are more likely to use the state-of-the-art technique that you want to follow.
Q: There is a closely related paper to my topic. Can I repeat it in a different time period / country / industry? That would be original, wouldn’t it?
No. If you simply repeat the analysis of a published paper, you will not exhibit any independent research and not pass. However, you may argue that the effect documented in a published paper should be driven / most pronounced by a certain industry/country/time etc. This may be an interesting topic. If you follow such a research direction, make sure that you don’t forget to relate your subsample results to the general result and compare your subsample to the other subsample.
Q: What should be my writing style?
Try to learn from your favourite papers on your topic. Of course, there is no need to copy all their quirks (for example, you are not “we”).
Q: Where can I find data for my analysis?
Ask the LSE Data library team for advice. Read journal articles to find out where others get the data from.
Q: My results are not significant. Can I change my topic?
Be careful not to fall into the “positive-outcome bias” (selective reporting of significant results). There are several journals committed to publish research that confirms the Null hypothesis rather than rejecting it, and looking at papers in those journals may help you to see how best to report such results. Of course, you want to be convincing with your results (i.e., sufficient sample size etc.)
Q: What are the most common reasons for failing?
- Copying the analysis of a published paper
- Writing the dissertation on a topic that I did not approve, especially if we agreed on changes to the proposal and those changes were not followed
- A discussion showing poor understanding of the topic
Q: What makes you give a distinction?
Original topics and data, a discussion and literature review that shows understanding of the topic, rigorous data analysis.