Students Stories

May 11 , 2020

Nanchen from MF18: Harvard Boy's SAIF Journey is Full o ...

My Amazing SAIF Journey  Studying at SAIF has been a rewarding journey so far and has certainly lived up to my expectations. The classes at SAIF are challenging, and its curriculum is well-structured. I was able to build a foundation of financial knowledge without having much prior exposure. The wide range of electives, from machine learning to internet finance, also provided a wealth of options to build atop that foundation according to my interests. With SAIF, I visited Singapore in the very first month of the program, visited many companies in Shanghai, and later spent a semester in Milan during my second year. I was able to put my knowledge to practical use when I interned with the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank in Beijing over the summer. Most importantly, the people at SAIF make tremendous friends and travel companions. Of course, my experience at SAIF would not be without regrets. I could be more proactive in pursuing professional activities and should have ventured out of my comfort zone more daringly. But overall, I had a blast. The opportunity to study in different countries (and indeed continents) has broadened my horizons and enriched my experiences. From a historical perspective, the legacies of Roman/Italian and Chinese cultures have endured millennia of repeated collapse and renaissance, and both have an outsized impact on the world today. When the opportunity to exchange at Bocconi serendipitously came up, I was quick to apply as I am obsessed with Roman history and had yet to visit continental Europe. I remember reading Gibbon’s The History of the Fall and Decline of the Roman Empire in college and was simply blown away by the romance of Rome’s spiraling decline. Glorious as it was, Rome was equally defined by periods of folly—from good Trajan to debauched Commodus, godlike Augustus to poor Pertinax. So, I guess my semester in Italy was, in addition to living and studying in a different culture, a chance to visit the vestiges of the ancient empire. But my four months there has yet to satiate my curiosity for ruins, museums, and relics of all sorts. More importantly, I sought to trace from the branches of Western society, not least that of the United States, to their roots and foundations firmly established thousands of years ago in the bosom of the Tiber. Living in Italy, a new and at the same time ancient country, reminded me to see ideas and events through a historical lens. My experience and motivations for studying in China, however, are different. I have a much more intimate relationship with my local classmates, and my upbringing as a Chinese American allows me to form a deeper understanding of Chinese culture and history. Therefore, I find myself able to empathize with Chinese perspectives on global issues in ways that most of my American peers can’t. I also appreciate the diversity of cultures in China, having traveled extensively throughout the country and having spent my past summer in Beijing. Moreover, I admire my MF classmates at SAIF, who are driven, entertaining, and humble. In over a year, some of my classmates have become very close friends. The professors with whom I had the opportunity to take a class are passionate, knowledgeable, and down-to-earth. It would be hard to single out any one class, professor, or classmate since so many have had a lasting impression on me. I have also befriended many MBA classmates, from whom I learned a lot about working in China and the importance of skills outside of the classroom.   SAIF & Harvard in My Eye Harvard is, foremost, a liberal arts school, and as a result, it instills upon its students the importance of critical thinking and varied learning. As a math student, I had the opportunity to take classes in linguistics, history, art history, planetary sciences, and so on. This journey for self-improvement and the curiosity for new knowledge and experience don’t stop after receiving the diploma. In that sense, each of my peers has gone on their own unique and worthwhile paths after graduating. For me, I chose to study finance in China to develop a set of professional skills in finance and to learn more about the financial industry in China. Both objectives are hard to achieve at Harvard, where one must travel to MIT to take an accounting class! At Harvard, I was an organizing member of the China Forum, which organizes a large annual conference for thought leaders to discuss China-related issues on the Harvard campus. I led a panel on financial reform in 2016, and that was my first exposure to the financial industry. Of the competencies I have developed at SAIF, the most tangible is a robust and formal framework to think about finance, especially in asset pricing. Besides, the classes I have taken at SAIF have given me a multifaceted view of the challenges of the industry in China and abroad. Finally, I have learned much from my current classmates, and I’m sure they will continue to enrich me going forward.   Why I Would Recommand SAIF to You without Hesitate For students with a strong math background, an interest in finance, and the wish to work in Asia-Pacific, I would recommend the MF program. In addition to what I have mentioned before, I think there is a niche that SAIF fills uniquely. In essence, Shanghai is an emerging global financial center that will see an increased demand for financial expertise and international experience. SAIF serves a role as a thought hub for Shanghai’s future financial policies and as an incubator for finance talent. I would like to thank the program for allowing me to be part of the SAIF family. My life would not be the same without my experience with SAIF.  I thank my professors for giving me guidance and knowledge, and my friends for providing encouragement and inspiration.

Apr 07 , 2020

Shuoyu Chen from SAIF MF 17: Fulfill My Financial Ideal ...

Hi everyone, my name is Chen Shuoyu, graduated from the Master of Finance (MF) Program at Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance (SAIF), Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). Meanwhile, I am based in Singapore and work for a leading hedge fund. I am honored to be here to share my experiences and feelings with all of you. SAIF MF: A Place Full of Great Curiosity Looking back, during the winter vacation of my junior year, I was interested in studying for a Master of Finance. When consulting my college counselor, I learned that many outstanding Fudan graduates had chosen SAIF MF Program and realized their ideal career plans in the financial sector. Therefore, I hoped to follow their roadmaps and set SAIF MF as my target. Now that I have graduated and embarked on my dream career path, I look back and feel lucky. I am very grateful to SAIF for bringing me, a novice, into the world of finance, which helped me to successfully transit from campus to workplace. The two years of study and knowledge buildup at SAIF MF brought a lot of gains in my life and career, opening up my horizons and illuminating my way forward. This precious experience is undoubtedly my lifetime treasure. I admire the academic rigidity and profound knowledge base of SAIF faculty. Here you can always find specialized and insightful professors to answer any finance-related question, which greatly meets the curiosity of the students. One of the courses that impressed me most was Econometrics, which still imposes a profound impact on my current job. Now I engage in the domain of empirical asset pricing, while the study of econometrics has helped me grasp the techniques of analyzing financial markets from a quantitative perspective. Science + Finance = Core Competency I studied my undergraduate program at the School of Mathematical Sciences, Fudan University. During my sophomore year, my roommates and I did a research on options volatility, which inspired my interest in applying what I learned to financial markets. The subsequent study of financial mathematics and financial time series analysis further consolidated my intention to transit to finance. Since I wasn’t major in finance in my undergraduate years, I did suffer from my weak foundation in the early stage at SAIF MF. Fortunately, SAIF MF’s curriculum was extremely friendly to major switchers. It allowed me to systematically study the basics of finance and make up for my shortcomings. The background of science + finance helped me quickly grasp some techniques of quantitative analysis, while using a less mechanistic approach in the process of analysis and focusing on the applications in the financial markets. Cherished and grateful, I finally concluded my study at SAIF MF and got the ideal offer. I came to Singapore and worked with excellent colleagues from all over the world to evolve in the field of hedge funds that I have always been yearning for. In my opinion, I found the job smoothly because my personal competitiveness comes from two sources. First of all, in terms of breadth or magnitude, I have a solid foundation of the fundamentals of finance and quantitative modeling, completed by plenty of internship experience. And second, in terms of depth or quality, during my study and internship, when analyzing and solving problems, I was used to drill down and wrap up instead of staying on the surface. In addition, SAIF’s teaching in English and the international learning environment also helped me a lot. At SAIF, I often exchanged my ideas and worked with many international students, which enabled me to quickly adapt to the English-dominated workspace both during job seeking and at my current position. At present, I definitely realize that the curriculum design at SAIF MF is closely connected and properly aligned with cutting-edge international markets. The solid knowledge base laid at SAIF makes me confident that I will not lose my way when exploring global market issues. Singapore, 2019 Looking Foward Regarding my future plan, the next five years will still focus on research and accumulation. I hope to do more researches with both depth and breadth in the position of a research fellow, and at the same time build up more market savvy and pave the way to become a distinguished fund manager. I would like to take this opportunity to share my experience with existing SAIF MF students with non-financial backgrounds, just like me, who are seeking to enter the financial sector. First of all, you need to develop your own awareness and abilities to search and analyze information, understand the components of the financial markets and the needs and career paths of various positions as early as possible, and find a roadmap that suits your personality and capabilities. In addition, don't be afraid to make decisions and move firmly towards your goals. During your study, it is important to read more, actively absorb all kinds of knowledge, wrap them up in a timely manner, and try to build your own knowledge framework by connecting the dots into a line. While at work, stay curious, pay attention to details and always challenge unasked questions.

Apr 07 , 2020

Dian Jiao from SAIF MF 17: Focus on the Financial Dream ...

Dian Jiao’s journey at Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance (SAIF) began in 2017. After graduating from the School of Mathematical Science of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) with the best grade, he chose SAIF Master of Finance (MF) Program to further study and transit into the financial sector. At SAIF, he won the opportunity to visit Columbia University for a dual-degree program after multiple rounds of selection and competition. From Shanghai to New York, he maintained outstanding academic performance while taking internships at world-class companies. During his study at Columbia University, Dian Jiao distinguished himself from competitors from all over the world and successfully won many enviable job opportunities, including a full-time offer from Citibank and another from a leading US-based quantitative fund with the assets under management (AUM) of over US$100 billion. In the context of the tightening of work permit policy in the United States, the academic performance superior to local graduates from top American universities and colleges also demonstrated Dian Jiao’s international competitiveness. For Dian Jiao majoring in science, success cannot be achieved overnight, but rather the result of extreme self-discipline and hard work. The growth journey at SAIF has also concentrated his efforts and strength, while visualizing his dreams. Never Complacent Searching for the Most Suitable Stage Dian Jiao has always been the "trophy child" in the eyes of everyone ever since his childhood. In high school, he emerged in the National High School Mathematics League and was recommended for direct admission to the Mathematics-Finance Undergraduate/Master Pilot Program of Shanghai Jiao Tong University. For the plain sailing on campus, Dian Jiao thinks otherwise. He claimed, "I am not a person who is at ease with the status quo." Because of the "uneasiness", when studying at the undergraduate program, Dian Jiao gave up the path of a direct master's degree in the same major. Instead, he actively applied for other programs and wanted to explore other territories. After some exploration, he made two major life choices. First of all, he planned to transfer from mathematics to finance. "The essence of finance is the reallocation of assets, which drives the positive circulation of capital to make the world a better place. It is very valuable." For Dian Jiao, the original intention of changing his specialty was to find the true meaning of his career rather than chasing a popular domain. Once the direction of his personal development was set, the second choice was to find a stage that really suits him. He picked up SAIF MF Program as the starting point for his dream life, after deliberate decision-making,"First, as a top-ranking and strategic institution, SAIF leads the business schools in China and even in Asia in terms of faculty, resources and academic standards. Second, I enrolled in the dual degree program jointly offered by SAIF and Columbia University, in which the participants will not only receive the education resources of two world-renowned schools, but also get the diplomas of both leading institutions. The value and international vision of the Program are remarkable. And third, when applying for the Program, I was highly impressed by the friendly and meticulous team of SAIF faculty and staff. I really love the atmosphere at SAIF, just like a home out of home." In 2017, Dian Jiao was recommended for direct admission to SAIF, thanks to his first-ranking performance and a GPA of 4.00. Although his goal was fulfilled, Dian Jiao wasn’t content with the past achievements. Always humble, he said shyly, "The quality of SAIF students is quite impressive. I am honored to learn from other outstanding classmates from different backgrounds.” Empowered by SAIF and Columbia University Seeking Professional Transformation In the senior year at SAIF MF, Dian Jiao successfully applied for the opportunity to pursue a dual degree in financial engineering at Columbia University with excellent academic results. In his view, this combination of double degrees is perfect, "SAIF’s curriculum focuses on the study of financial theories, so that the students can establish a comprehensive and systematic understanding of finance and lay a solid and specialized foundation. In contrast, the curriculum at Columbia University concentrates on the fields of mathematics and computer science, which highlights financial engineering and the cultivation of skills." It was an extraordinary challenge to get the diplomas of two world-class institutions in the duration of a single master program. The high standards and strict requirements of the two schools also urged Dian Jiao to be more self-disciplined and learn how to better deal with pressure and time management. In two years, he never missed a class for any reason. Even for some courses with remote option available, he was still be present on time, in order to ensure classroom efficiency and better face-to-face communication with instructors. In the last semester at Columbia, Columbia ’s exam week and SAIF’s deadline of graduation thesis collided with each other. Dian Jiao admitted that it was one of the most stressed periods in his life. Taking courses in both schools, completing his internship and successfully finding a job, Dian Jiao has a simple secret weapon that he has always stick to, that is, to do the right thing in the right time and stay focused. He believes that as long as you keep focused and efficient and 80%-90% of the learning is thoroughly understood and completely absorbed in the classroom, it will naturally minimize the pressure of after-class reviews. It is critical to properly arrange each time slot and concentrate on the right thing in the right time. Eventually, Dian Jiao’s graduation thesis was selected as the “Excellent Graduation Thesis of the Year”, while he also got straight As in all four exams at Columbia during the exam week. Over the two years, he won the full scholarship of the Program twice. Whether at SAIF or Columbia, Dian Jiao won A+ grades in many core courses. These dazzling achievements witnessed the perfect financial transformation of Dian Jiao as a man of science. Regarding the transformation, Dian Jiao smiled and said that the undergraduate experience in mathematics facilitated instead of hurdled his advancement. "The study of mathematics has made my thinking more rigorous and diverging, and at the same time cultivated an academic attitude to trace back to the source. These elements are highly helpful for my study of finance.” A Dream of Finance From SAIF to Worldwide SAIF's education not only targets at the improvement of comprehensive quality and abilities, but also encourages students to combine knowledge with practice. During the first summer vacation at SAIF, Dian Jiao was a little hesitant about internship. "I didn't expect that the tutor would come to me and discuss bout the arrangements for the summer internship. Such detail-oriented meticulosity touched and inspired me deeply." The one-on-one candid communication with the tutor cleared Dian Jiao’s concerns, who started to actively seek internship opportunities. At SAIF, Dian Jiao heaped a number of summer internship offers from world-leading organizations, including Macquarie Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Morgan Stanley Huaxin Securities and Shanghai Stock Exchange. At Columbia, he was also selected for an internship at Citibank. Sharpened in the real-world context of finance, Dian Jiao was maturing, and his dream of finance became more specific. "Given my expertise and personality, I hope to further evolve in the field of quantitative investment." Leaving his alma mater and setting sail for a new stage of life, Dian Jiao attributes his smooth career path to SAIF’s comprehensive training and the background of multi-disciplinary education. "Concerning the reasons why I won the international professional competition, on the one hand, one of my strengths is the solid accumulation of mathematics knowledge, especially statistics. More importantly, I would like to thank SAIF for advancing my financial expertise in all aspects and solidifying the fundamentals of finance. Most of the students studying financial engineering abroad have a background in science or engineering, who lack knowledge in finance, which limits their growth." In Dian Jiao’s opinion, for science and engineering students who intend to transfer into the world of finance, SAIF is the best choice. Getting a satisfactory offer from a US quantitative fund is only the starting point of Dian Jiao’s financial career. This young man has a clear roadmap for his future, "In five years, I hope to become a fund manager in the company and then return to China for further development." To be back to China, devote to quantitative investment research and drive the development of quantitative investment in China, it is one of the key reasons why Dian Jiao gave up the offer from Citi and joined the existing company. It will also be the dream he will consistently pursue for in the future. After the cultivation and transformation in two world-known institutions, Dian Jiao today has some new insights of the globe and the future. "With further opening up, China's financial sector will be more regulated, globalized and specialized. In this context, I believe that the emerging segment of quantitative investment will usher in its surge and expansion."

Feb 25 , 2020

Han Lin from SAIF MF 18: Shanghai & London, a Tale ...

About the Student: Han Lin SAIF MF 18 and LBS MFA Student Bachelor of Finance, Sun Yat-sen University Hello! My name is Han Lin, with a bachelor’s degree from Sun Yat-sen University. I was very fortunate to have dual admissions to the Master of Finance (MF) Program of Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance (SAIF) and the Masters in Financial Analysis (MFA) Program of London Business School (LBS). Many thanks to SAIF for giving me an additional chance to choose and experience two different lives under two master programs in two cities in China and in the West. Encountering SAIF and LBS I think I am a quite easy-going person and the encounter with SAIF was destined. In the second half of my junior year, I realized that I was highly likely to study abroad for a master's degree, though in fact I didn’t have a clear idea. At that time, my Plan A was to go abroad, while Plan B was postgraduate recommendation by the university. I applied for SAIF Mini Camp in Beijing and received the invitation one week in advance. But I was in Denmark for an exchange program at that time, and due to a number of reasons, I didn't return to China. However, SAIF admissions team was very considerate to the applicants. When I was about to go back home, I was notified that I could directly participate in SAIF Summer Camp, which was also my last chance. One week before the Summer Camp, I happened to know a SAIF alumnus who studied at LBS through a CUHK alumnus who was about to enter LBS. And I learned about the SAIF-LBS program. Since I didn't make up my mind about going abroad or studying in a postgraduate program in China, it was the best choice. The experience at SAIF Summer Camp was great. What impressed me particularly was the frankness of the admissions team. The admissions officer answered my questions about the dual program honestly and patiently, and objectively evaluate my pros and cons. In the end, with the help of many persons, I was lucky to get the offer of the program. At LBS The year at LBS introduced me to a different life. With the current tagline of "Minds Alive", LBS is a highly diverse community with students, faculty and staff from all nationalities and backgrounds. At LBS, every idea is free and respectable. I learned a lot from my classmates and alumni and received plenty of encouragement. My mentor at LBS resigned from a top-notch investment bank because he wanted to change his way of life. A former trader at an energy corporation, one of my classmates told me that he would go to New York and try to work at an investment bank in the summer. Some students even joined a few startups since they felt that finance was a bit boring. They seemed to take these actions easily or take them for granted, the things I could hardly understand or that take great courage, which deeply inspired me. LBS is a big stage where everyone can do what they want to do and have their own space to play. Of course, the teaching at LBS is also first-class. The academic or industry backgrounds of the faculty are impressive, while the backgrounds of the students are diverse. There are students from more than 30 countries in my program. The curriculum is well designed and practical, laying a solid foundation for our career journey in the future. Studying and working in this diverse environment is extremely interesting, challenging and valuable. In addition, the School also cooperates with companies in the industry and introduces us to real-world cases. Each year, LBS will arrange every student to travel to one of six destinations around the world and participate in specific topics. For example, during the London Business Challenge Week, we completed a project selected from various industries. In Global Immersion Field Trip, after several weeks of research and preparation, we investigated the industries in different regions across the world and presented our findings. London is also a magical city, a perfect mix of tradition and modernity, hitting the ideal balance between work and life. In London, to perceive art, you can go to see a variety of musicals, plays and ballet. To pass the time, you can pick from an endless list of museums. You may visit a variety of royal parks either in a good mood or not, for example, the Regent's Park across the road from our School. It is also extremely convenient to take a couple of days and enjoy a get-away in different countries in Europe. In London, as long as you want, you can always find something to do. I also made full use of such convenience to travel to many countries, see many world-known landmarks and paintings, and also visit my friends in Europe. At SAIF SAIF at Shanghai Jiao Tong University is an international institution in China, known for its academic rigidity. The curriculum of SAIF MF Program focuses on theories and is taught in English. Many faculty members are top-notch professors with tenure at leading international business schools or doctors who have graduated from the world's top business schools, who are fully devoted, pay close attention to the experience and feedback of the students, and carefully prepare every and all sessions, with the support of responsible and competent teaching assistants. The students are also graduated from reputable universities around the world, with various backgrounds. For the sake of the dual admissions, I had to take up some first-year courses after returning to SAIF in my second year. Although the workload was extensive and the pace was fast, I learned a lot of knowledge and skills in the process. I also exercised my capabilities of time management, self-regulation and stress resistance. The faculty and classmates helped me a lot, and I gradually found the balance of life. The time I spent at SAIF also gave me a better understanding of China's financial markets and strengthened my competitiveness. The Career Development Center (CDC) at SAIF provide training and one-on-one consultations to the students, along with abundant resources to facilitate our job hunting. SAIF is located at Xuhui Campus in Shanghai, which is cozy and has a breath of life. It is a good place to experience Shanghai’s culture and presents a rich and colorful lifestyle, including various musicals and exhibitions. Grow with Outstanding Peers Whether at LBS or SAIF, I feel that my classmates and senior students are all remarkable. We can only be the better selves by “emulating those better than us". During the study, we help each other to solve problems together. When looking for intern or job opportunities, everyone works hard and boast a strong willpower. Never give up until the end! This spirit of struggle infects everyone. We are also enthusiastic about sharing our learning as well as job search experience and resources and cheer on each other. No pain, no gain. Hard work will pay off and our efforts will lead to excellent results! The joint program between SAIF and LBS allowed me to study two programs, experience two international metropolises full of financial vitality at home and abroad and join two large communities and their alumni network around the world. I am very grateful to the joint program between SAIF and LBS for giving me such an opportunity. This experience of studying at home and abroad has made me grow rapidly and broaden my horizons, enhance my competitiveness and harvest a lot of gains. I’ll welcome more friends to join us. "Dream irrigates hard work". I hope that everyone can live a true self in the future and devote to their dreams. Finally, I wish you all the best, with peace and joy!