How Do You Quantify Success?
CUHK’s Bachelor of Science in Quantitative Finance (QFIN) programme provides the financial services industry with a steady stream of finance professionals with a combination of strong quantitative and finance skills as well as a sound and balanced grasp of general business and economics.
Prof. Chow Ying-Foon, Director of the QFIN programme, said, ‘The core attributes we look for in the applicants are numerical and analytical skills and an open and inquisitive mind. We strive to instill a strong sense of professional ethics and personal integrity in our students, to develop them into all-rounded individuals with good soft skills such as interpersonal, communication and teamwork skills.’
Chuen Gahou, now in his fourth year, answered these attributes very well. He said, ‘I have always loved mathematics and economics since secondary school, and found the banking and stock markets immensely interesting, despite not having too much knowledge about them at the time. The QFIN programme struck me as one of the best paths to pursue a career in this field, since it combined my passion for numbers with my interest in finance.’
Gahou soon found that the QFIN family is a closely knit one, where he has made many lifelong friends: ‘I do not only talk with them about academic and professional matters but have also made strong personal connections with many of my peers. Apart from spending time in the classroom together, we bond in other ways and get to know each other on a deeper level. For example, we form teams to join case competitions.’
The programme has several mentorship programmes, from the buddy-buddy programme where senior-year students mentor and share experience with junior-year students, and the QFIN alumni-student mentorship programme, to the professionals-students mentorship programme. Professionals and alumni are invited back to share their thoughts and experience with current students. This helps students gain a better understanding of the industry and make wiser career choices.
‘The teachers and staff of the programme gave a lot of support to the students, both academically and professionally,’ Gahou recalled. ‘A lot of resources are provided to us when it comes to searching for internships, and paving our way towards a successful career. The professors and the staff are always ready to spend time on teaching and nurturing us to become elites in the finance field.’
The bond between current students and alumni of the programme is indeed strong. Gahou said, ‘The QFIN family is scattered in different professions in the finance industry, and those who have established themselves are all very willing to mentor and guide those still in university, providing us with great career advice.’ This strong network and sense of belonging is a distinguishing feature of the QFIN programme.
Another feature is the strong brand and reputation enjoyed by the programme and its well-established relationship with industry. Professor Chow said, ‘We have attracted the investment and support from the finance industry for the establishment of a Finance Trading Laboratory, the first of its kind in a business school, which provides to students a realistic and practical learning and research environment through the provision of live data feeds from many stock exchanges around the world.
‘Through the programme’s network and relationships, we have also attracted industry professionals to come to teach short courses on specific areas of finance, especially those fast-developing ones. This gives students access to up-to-date perspectives and thinking from practitioners which cannot be found in textbooks or other formal teaching material.’
Gahou acknowledged the richness of the learning experience offered here: ‘This programme has made me realize that there is a lot to learn outside the classroom, and see the importance of soft skills such as interpersonal and communication skills. In addition to specialized knowledge, it is even more vital to combine both hard and soft skills in order to be successful in the financial sector.’
The programme works closely with potential employers in sourcing employment opportunities and cultivates new relationships with companies. On the other hand, it provides individual and group training and counselling to the students in their preparation and search for internships and graduate jobs. Each student will have on average completed around three internships by the time he/she graduates and over 90% of them will have done at least one internship in a finance-related role or a financial services company or organization.
Gahou’s interests lie with investment banking and sales and trading. He admitted that ‘this programme has provided me with a lot of the knowledge required in this industry. I have also learnt how to make business connections which would be useful later on in my career, and can leverage on soft skills such as these in the future workplace.’
Professor Chow said, ‘Our graduates from enjoy a very high employment rate, with over 95% finding gainful occupation within three months of graduation. Around 60% of the graduating class join the financial services industry and the rest will go into accounting, consulting or general business. A few will pursue postgraduate studies in the field of finance or business. Our programme is recognized by the CFA Institute as a CFA Institute University Affiliation Program (CFA Institute UAP).’
With globalization and greater integration with China, many of the QFIN students choose to study or gain work experience overseas or in the mainland. The programme has established good relationships with top business schools around the world and the mainland and most students who wish to go on exchange have the opportunity to do so. The importance of international experience and the competitive edge gained thereby can never be overstated.
All these are more than one student in one programme can stomach. Gahou could not have agreed more: ‘This programme has given me more than I could ever have imagined, provided me with a complete university experience, and prepared me for entering into society as a business professional in the future. If you are in high school and pondering how to enter the dynamic industry of finance, the prestigious QFIN programme will certainly enable you to do so!’
Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2018