Navigating Two Seas: Finance and Statistics
The Quantitative Finance and Risk Management Science (QFRM) programme only admits 20 students each year. In terms of size it is a modest programme, but its scope and mission are anything but modest. It provides state-of-the-art training in business and finance, risk management science, mathematics, statistics, and computing applications. Prof. Chow Ying-Foon , Co-Director of QFRM, said, ‘We look for elite students with strong passion in mathematics, finance and statistics. Many of our new students are given admission scholarships by the University, the CUHK Business School, the Faculty of Science or the Colleges.’
One of these elite students is Simon Song who has completed the programme this summer. Simon said, ‘The programme gave me a very high platform from which to come to know experienced experts from the industry. The small class-size also ensures a good relationship among all the students who are generous in sharing their insights. We have a strong bonding with each other and I am quite proud of it. We will help each other with the assignments and projects which may consume too much time if attempted alone. The edge given by the platform and the harmonious relationship among students are valuable assets to me.’
QFRM incorporates courses on selected topics to provide an opportunity for the students to learn more of the latest developments in the financial industry. It also arranges capstone courses, e.g., through internship experience, that give the students a chance to put newly acquired knowledge to use to try to solve the urgent and prevalent problems in the industry.
According to Prof. Phillip Yam, Co-Director of QFRM, ‘This is the first and only programme that provides an all-rounded training and panoramic view on the whole quantitative financial and trading industry. We have two strong programmes in Quantitative Finance and in Risk Management Science. Our extensive alumni network is enviable to similar programmes in other universities.’
The programme benefits from the combined strengths of CUHK’s Department of Finance and Department of Statistics. Simon said, ‘We met great professors, 28 and 20 from Finance and Statistics, respectively, who take care of our learning needs. We can always consult them, and every time they would listen patiently to our problems and guide us towards finding a solution.’ Academic counselling sessions are held to give an overview of study at CUHK in general and the requirements of QFRM in particular. Then there are regular informal tea gatherings where students can express their views and raise questions to the programme co-directors.
Simon continued: ‘What I thought about this programme changed a lot after I became part of it. QFRM is a programme that guides you to look at the financial world from a mathematical perspective. Unlike other programmes which focus more on the non-mathematical side of finance, QFRM is all about the use of maths in the financial discipline and understanding of the underlying market mechanism. I believe QFRM can make students grow faster. This programme tackles a lot of sophisticated mathematical and statistical problems from which students will gain a host of hand-on experiences.’
As a programme jointly offered by the Department of Finance and the Department of Statistics, its students are doubly accessible to the opportunities offered by both departments. Professor Yam said, ‘Over 75% of our students have participated in overseas exchange programmes. QFRM provides strong support on professional development as well, investing resources on career coaching and counselling.’ Professor Chow added, ‘Workshops on CV writing, interview skills and sharing sessions with alumni and practitioners, among other things, are organized throughout the year. Those who graduated in 2016 had on average completed three internships by the time of graduation. The students may also join the mentorship and buddy programmes organized by either department.’
QFRM graduates are well prepared for further study or career development in the industry. Professor Chow said, ‘Many of our graduates pursued postgraduate studies in renowned institutions such as Imperial College London, Columbia, Pennsylvania and Berkeley in areas such as Statistics, Finance and Economics. Others are employed by institutions and companies such as the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, HKEx, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, BlackRock, Microsoft, HSBC, etc.’
Established in 2009, QFRM is consistently ranked top among the quantitatively related programmes in Hong Kong. Professor Yam has this advice for the prospective students: ‘Talk with the senior students during the Open Day of CUHK in October and see if our programme fits your needs. Always think of both your career path and your interests, which can help you make the right decision.’
Simon concurred: ‘You can meet a lot of talented students here. I like the feeling of being challenged and am happy to see my progress when among strong competitors.’ He also assured those who are interested: ‘If you like maths and are looking for a promising career, you should go ahead with your choice.’
Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2018