Cosimo-Andrea Munari joined our Faculty as assistant professor at the Department of Banking and Finance at the beginning of February. In this introductory interview he explains what his research focus is and why he thinks it is important in his role as professor to strike a balance between conveying knowledge and fostering a critical attitude among students.
What would you like to convey to your students?
I value dialogue between professors and students as the cornerstone of academic life. As a student, I would primarily aim to build a solid background that prepares me for the challenges of the job market or of research. To this end, students should not be content to learn a set of recipes or mechanical rules, just to pass an exam, but rather search for guiding principles and explanations, which are more likely to stand the test of time and to serve as a helpful navigator throughout the changes of the future.
To strike a balance between the necessary accumulation of notions and techniques and a critical attitude towards their foundations – which takes no idea for granted and seeks to discover its historical and conceptual premises – is, in my opinion, what a good professor should try to achieve.
What do you focus on in your research?
My core academic interest is the application of mathematical and finance theoretical research to a variety of problems arising in the risk management of financial institutions, more specifically insurance companies, such as: risk identification and quantification, capital adequacy, optimal capital allocation, and valuation of financial products.
For example, capital adequacy is about regulation of financial companies. In order to ensure the stability of the financial system, every company has to comply with a variety of regulatory requirements. Through our research we try to shed light on important problems related to: the adequacy of the current regulatory instruments to achieve the declared objectives of financial regulation, the compatibility between different regulatory regimes and, within a given jurisdiction, between different normative requirements, the (dis)incentives implied by regulatory instruments with respect to (excessive) risk taking.
What were the decisive factors for you to join the University of Zurich?
When I applied for the assistant professorship in Finance and Insurance at the Department of Banking and Finance I was already familiar with the wonderful atmosphere and the great facilities of the University, since I had spent almost two years as a postdoctoral researcher within the same department.
The initial months of my new position have just but confirmed it. This is the biggest and the most diverse university in the country and strives for excellence in all fields of teaching and research. I am looking forward to contributing to both at my best!