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SAIF MF in New York | A Close Look at Four Wall Street Giants - Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, MSCI and AIG

How did you spend the National Day holiday just past?

During the period, more than 20 faculty members and students from the Master of Finance (“MF”) Program 2018 and 2019 of Shanghai Advanced Institute (“SAIF”), Shanghai Jiao Tong University (“SJTU”) flew to the United States and took part in a 5-day international module in New York.

Under the leadership of Prof. Zhan Jiang, Faculty Director of SAIF MF Program, Alan Qiu, one of the most popular lecturers at SAIF, and Lin Yang, Head of SAIF MF Program, the group visited Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, MSCI, AIG and other world-leading financial giants and exchanged ideas on the most cutting-edge financial and FinTech topics. Goldman Sachs partners personally customized the FLAG Workshop, during which the students met more than 20 specialists from 9 units of Goldman Sachs within 2 days. It is also the first time that Goldman Sachs has partnered with a Chinese school in comprehensive and immersive study. The students not only expanded their international vision and touched the frontier dynamics of the industry, but also gained new understanding and insights on the Program and the development of the Chinese market.

A tight schedule, a knowledge explosion and a burst of pleasure. Let’s follow their footsteps and feel the charm of Wall Street:

DAY 1

Credit Suisse

On the afternoon of September 30th, soon after their arrival in New York, the group headed for the first stop of the journey, Credit Suisse’s headquarters in New York, and was warmly received by Wenzhe Zhao, Director, Cheng Ju, Vice President and Linda, a senior specialist, at Credit Suisse. From the perspective of capital market evolution, the three experts reviewed the landscape of derivatives trading and stock research and shared their insights on major trends, including FinTech reform and China-US relations. Finally, based on their own professional experience, they also gave some advices on career planning and development.

Welcome Dinner

Following the visit to Credit Suisse, the group gathered in a restaurant and discussed what they saw and heard during the day, when laughter and gourmet food washed away the fatigue of long-haul flight and jet lag. During the dinner, Prof. Zhan Jiang, Faculty Director of SAIF MF Program, Alan Qiu, one of the most popular lecturers at SAIF, and Lin Yang, Head of SAIF MF Program, gave a warm welcome to the participants and discussed and revisited the takeaways gained that afternoon. They also further explored the itinerary and precautions of the overseas module and provided some helpful advices to the students.

DAY 2

MSCI

On the morning of October 1st, the group visited MSCI New York office under the guidance of David Zhang, Managing Director of MSCI. David took a look at the history of MSCI as a world-leading indexing agency and focused on the role of FinTech and quantitative models in performance analysis, risk control and other fields. He also shared his ideas about ESG (Environment, Society and Governance) investment and cutting-edge topics of interest.

During the Q&A session, David discussed with the group on a number of hotspot topics, including blockchain, virtual currency and ICO.

AIG

In the afternoon, the students visited American International Group (AIG), one of the world-class insurance and financial services multinationals, and listened to the speeches of Henry Mo, Chief Economist and Kun Gao, Head of Quant Equity Research, about AIG and the international insurance and financial markets. During the face-to-face communication, the two industry experts reviewed a wide range of topics with the group, from the differences in the regulatory contexts between the Chinese and American insurance markets, to the applications and limitations of artificial intelligence (AI) in quantitative investment. Having worked in the United States for years, they analyze the differences between China and the United States and market opportunities from the perspective of US professionals, which brought inspiring ideas to the participants.

In particular, knowing the stress of upcoming job hunting and career planning, Henry encouraged them with his own struggles and opportunities. He highlighted that it was critical to calm their minds and face the challenges in the job search process.

DAY 3 & 4

Goldman Sachs FLAG Workshop Module A

This day, the students ushered in the climax of this overseas program! The long-awaited FinTech Learning @ Goldman ("FLAG") Workshop created by Adam Korn, Managing Director of Goldman Sachs provided a comprehensive and multi-angle view of the business models of each business line and offered an immersive learning experience. In two days, the students were exposed to the managing directors, vice presidents and senior researchers of 9 units. Fortunately, SAIF is the first Chinese school benefitting from the FLAG Workshop in partnership with Goldman Sachs.

As the opening guest, Adam delivered a warm welcome to SAIF students and briefly reviewed the traditional business lines of Goldman Sachs as well as its steady transformation in commercial banking and FinTech in recent years. Adam encouraged the students to ask more, think more, and communicate more in the next two days. His intimate tone and inspiring speech laid a great foundation for the field visit at Goldman Sachs.

The next session was hosted by Niki Quarmyne, Vice President of Securities. First of all, Lindsay Chock and Vikas Goela, both Vice Presidents and Grace Chang, Analyst, all from the Securities Division, gave a unique and focused interview for the group and deeply explored their journey and insights in engaging in the technical jobs at the Securities Division. Vikas admitted that price forecast modeling in a constantly changing market is always a challenge, but it also creates an outstanding sense of fulfillment.

Next, three vice presidents from the Investment Banking Division, namely Joey Allcock of the IPO Group, Kyle McNickle of the M&A Group and Virginia McCormack of the Utilities Group, shared their views on investment banking in different perspectives. The Investment Banking Division of Goldman Sachs is divided into a number of business lines, including M&A, Financing, industry groups and transaction banking. Joey and Kyle explained the deployment of IPO and M&A lines, while Virginia analyzed the investment banking business in the public finance field. As transaction banking, Kyle mentioned that it is a relatively independent business line within the Investment Banking Division, focusing on trade finance and fund flows. Given its high standardization, it is at the forefront of digital transformation in the Division.

As one of the few top investment banks with Github accounts, Goldman Sachs is also pioneering platform digitization. Francis Giannaros, Vice President of the Securities Division, demonstrated the role of Marquee in securities analysis and risk management. Tony Mukherjee, Associate of the Securities Division, showed Genie, a chatbot application designed for analysts and salesforce.

At the end of the day, Alan Qiu guided the students to review the takeaways and encouraged them to consciously improve their soft skills in addition to learning over the next few days.

Goldman Sachs FLAG Workshop Module B

On the first day at Goldman Sachs, the students took a close look at the applications of FinTech from the perspectives of users. The next day went further and inspired them to drill deeper by exploring Goldman Sachs' new business model from the viewpoints of developers and designers.

The students visited some of Goldman Sachs’ internal incubation projects. The senior experts at Goldman Sachs elaborated how its internal innovation acceleration mechanism finds “the best ideas” and better serves shareholders and customers through resources, network integration, networking, knowledge resources and business unit expansion, which injects more vitality into the organization. Goldman Sachs encourages excellent internal performers and innovative ideas by means of internal incubation, which is one of the critical processes for Goldman Sachs to transform into a high-tech company.

Next, the group visited the specific applications on the spot and discussed about the applications and transformation of commercial banking.

In addition to internal innovation, Goldman Sachs also began exploring the digital transformation in the fields of FinTech and commercial banking a few years ago. Megan Prasad, Associate of the Consumer and Investment Management Division, started with Bill Gates's famous saying, "Banking is necessary, but banks are not", to reveal its digital transformation and challenges.

When it comes to FinTech, blockchain is a must-have. Tom Johnson, Vice President from the Operations Division and Drew Van der Werff, Vice President from the Securities Division presented the latest updates of digital currency and blockchain. At present, blockchain has been used in various application scenarios, including food traceability, drug tracking and smart contracts.

The next session was full of interactions and creativity. Loki Muthu, Vice President and Creative Director of the Engineering Dept., Alyssa Nitz, Vice President from User Experience Research, and other Goldman Sachs staff brought a variety of presentations to showcase the diverse lives of Goldman Sachs employees. As an outstanding interaction engineer, Alyssa explained the philosophy of how to apply quantitative thinking to life and how to achieve better planning and implementation if life is considered as a project, which was really refreshing and inspiring. Loki shared his education experiments beyond work life and his experience of launching A Tree Named Ganga, an educational album designed for children, in partnership with a Michelin chef. Moreover, another employee in his team spent her free time as a solo singer at Carnegie Hall. He encouraged the students to boldly imagine, bravely pursue, carefully refine and realize their dreams.

After a field visit to the trading floor, the group gained a first-hand understanding of the open culture and harmony at Goldman Sachs. Finally, Wenjun Qiu once again led the students to sum up the thoughts of the days and share their feelings and insights, because “sharing your learning is much better than keeping your learning to yourself”. A group of top-notch students in China have broadened their thinking acumen by communicating with international organizations and professionals, which will be the starting point for their excellent careers in the future.

DAY 5

Closing Luncheon

At noon on the last day of the trip, Owen Li, Director of Bank of America Merrill Lynch Investment Banking, was invited to join the group and shared his insights in today’s investment industry, the development of Bank of America Merrill Lynch's investment banking business and the business deployment with SAIF MF students, in addition to his advices on life development and career planning. He looked back as a Chinese professional, how he gained a foothold in international investment banks and made great achievements today. According to Owen, though traditionally, it is widely agreed that a career in the banking sector calls for a strong network, he believes that the mastery of hard skills and control of business processes is equally important, which is his secret weapon of success by capturing the key points of the business and showing it to client after structuring and organization.

After the luncheon, Prof. David X. Li, Co-director of SAIF MF Program, granted the exquisite certificates to the students, on behalf of SAIF MF Office.

Bottom Line

The overseas module of SAIF MF Program in 2019 was concluded with a full stop. Although the trip to New York is over, it inspires the students to drill down into the reflection on capital markets and career development.

Read more, travel more. With the knowledge they have gained in classroom, the students took a journey of thousands of miles. When the formulas and theories in textbooks are turned into the forefront applications in the ever-changing market, they capture profound and valuable insights in the classroom lecturers. Back to SAIF, the panoramic view on the top of Goldman Sachs headquarters overlooking Manhattan remains in their minds. For SAIF MF students, it’s just the starting point. In the future, they will continue to march towards the world, explore the unknown territories and become the champions of a world-class international finance school.

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Copywriting: Yuexiang Yin and Yue Zha
Photography: William Haas

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