Students Stories

Feb 28 , 2022

MF19 Chirui Chang: Be Brave and Proactive

Chirui Chang has always been a top student. In his junior year, he joined SAIF by chance and started his two year learning journey where he mastered professional knowledge and gained comprehensive skills. After graduation, he received an offer from Morgan Stanley and planned to do further work in the field of quantitative finance. A group of beloved “comrades” is his biggest reward in the past two years. For what it’s worth,  it's never too late,  or in my case, too early,  to be whoever you want to be. There is no time limit, start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view.  I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again. —— The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Chirui Chang quoted a movie monologue in the acknowledgment section of his graduation thesis, as mentioned above. He thought that it was worth reading at every stage of life and he wanted to deliver it as a graduation speech to his classmates. Since he was a child, Chirui Chang has always been among the top students. Being a member of the Youth Honored Program of Qian Xuesen Honors College at Xi’an Jiaotong University, Chang had a double degree in Management (Industrial Engineering) and Economics (Finance), ranking first in overall scoring.   Knowledge Isn't the Only Thing I Learned at SAIF In the beginning, Chirui Chang preferred top business analysis Master’s programs rather than SAIF. Then he happened to participate in the mini-camp of the SAIF MF Program which was recommended by the seniors. Through the camp, he had the opportunity to communicate directly with professors at SAIF and learn about the curriculum design and international cultivation system of the FinTech Track. Chang was interested in FinTech and he believed it would have a prosperous future. After participating in the camp, and comparing it against a large number of prestigious programs at home and abroad, he believed that SAIF’s FinTech Track was at the international forefront. Although he also received offers from other famous universities in China and beyond, he chose SAIF after he successfully was admitted to the SAIF MF-FinTech Track. “The FinTech Track combines the innovation spirit of SAIF and the abundant resources of SJTU so that I can’t help joining it. The curriculum design and talent cultivation philosophy of the program fit well with my background and career plan. FinTech can benefit me most and I am very honored to be in the first batch of students for the MF FinTech Track.” SAIF is the first in China to launch the MF-FinTech Track Program. Its innovative curriculum focuses on three areas: Finance, Statistics & Machine Learning, and Computer Skills & Applications. Professor Xianglin Li was one of the professors who made the deepest impression upon Chirui Chang during his two years of study, and he was also the founder of the cultivation system for the MF-FinTech Program. After discussions with international professors and industry leaders in the field of FinTech, Professor Xianglin Li (Associate Director of CAFR, MF Program Academic Co-Director) set up a rigorous and scientific curriculum system that could meet the needs of the global market, thus preparing future leaders in finance with solid academic knowledge and comprehensive skills. The Machine Learning course taught by Professor Xianglin Li greatly broadened Chirui Chang’s horizons. “The course has three modules. The basic and advanced modules are taught by Professor Li himself. In the third module, he invites a great scholar in the relevant field to give a lecture in each class, which gives us a rare opportunity to communicate with these experienced masters.” Chang said. Humble and Enthusiastic Comrades “Humble and enthusiastic,” Chirui Chang answered when talking about his classmates. Although FinTech Track was just launched, the SAIF MF Program had always been strict with its candidate selection. It mainly recruits highly-qualified students from top institutions with outstanding proclivities toward mathematics and programming. Before enrolling in the program, Chang was worried about the relationship between classmates. To his surprise, he made deep friendships with his “comrades” during his two years of study. “Though it is said that finance industry is full of competition and infighting, classmates at SAIF are all kind, and the relationship between us is more like ‘comrades in arms’.” Due to the unexpected Covid-19 pandemic, Chirui Chang and his classmates endured distance learning. Though separated from each other, they still shared job-finding experiences online. Though internships and employment of the MF-FinTech19 graduates were hampered by the epidemic, it gave them a chance to deepen their friendship. “In such a situation, we shared information about job hunting and interview experience, supported and encouraged each other, and overcame difficulties together. I learned a lot from them, and was fortunate to spend my last campus days with them.” This year’s graduates (classmates of Chirui Chang) all did well during recruiting, getting offers from top institutions, including: JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, UBS, CITIC Securities, CICC, ETF Fund, Ubiquant, DTL, Tencent, and Microsoft.   No Pain, No Gain In his first year at SAIF, Chirui Chang received an offer from Morgan Stanley after a series of selections. It seems that his life was successful. His learning experience at the Youth Honored Program had given him a clear vision of himself. “I don't think I’m gifted compared to my classmates who have read Thomas’ Calculus twice when they were 15 years old. In my opinion, hard work is far more important than talent.” Through two years of study, he also had his own understanding of FinTech. “I think finance is born to serve capital, which makes professional financial services mainly focus on institutions and a small group of individual investors. With the development of computers and Internet, the integration of technology and finance greatly reduces the cost of financial services and significantly improves the ability to integrate and allocate resources. It means that high-quality financial services and customized financial products are no longer the privilege of the rich, and everyone can benefit from the development of technology. The whole finance industry is undergoing an unprecedented inclusive change, and I hope I can contribute to its development.” Upon leaving the ivory tower, Chang will soon begin his professional life. “After leaving campus, I hope I can adapt to the workplace as soon as possible. Keep curious, always try something new, accumulate enough experience in this position and then think about the future. I hope I can be brave and proactive. I want to say thanks to everyone who helped and cared about me. I will stay true and keep moving.” No pain, no gain. Chirui Chang is full of confidence and hope for his future.

Feb 28 , 2022

MF09 An Hu: From Foreign Investment Bank to Top Direct ...

It has been 10 years since the MF09 Class graduated. During this decade, 33 graduates from MF09 have all made great strides in their own career and An Hu is one of them.   As one of the first SAIF graduates, An Hu had decided to enter investment banking after graduation, and he finally joined one of the top-tier investment banks – Rothschild – as the first employee who graduated from mainland China. He then left Rothschild to join a well-known Private Equity (PE) Institution in Asia and participated in many large M&A projects to become an investor instead of a broker. He believed that faith was as important as opportunity, and self-confidence and inner drive were what he had learned from SAIF.  The Struggle to Join a Renowned Foreign-owned Investment Bank In 2005, An Hu was admitted to Antai College of Economics and Management at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). An Hu admitted that he didn’t make every effort during his four years of study and was at the middle level in his class. Despite his proficient English skills, most of his courses were completed by intense and concentrated learning just before the exam. Before graduating, he faced a choice between studying further and working.  At that time, to build Shanghai into an international financial center, the Shanghai Municipal Government established a top-class business school – SAIF– in collaboration with SJTU and renowned overseas Chinese scholars. An Hu, who had always been willing to try new things, noticed the news and searched for more information about the MF program, especially the faculty. Knowing that Professor Jiang Wang was the Dean, that the program was taught in English, and that it was easier for SJTU students to take the exam as SAIF’s first batch of students — Hu An thought it would be a good opportunity. He joined SAIF successfully in 2009.   Afterwards, An Hu soon found that his classmates were both excellent and hardworking. Being thus influenced, he began to work hard. During this period, he soon began to realize that investment banking might be his dream career.   Apart from studying hard, An Hu also prepared himself for a future job by enriching his experience. At the end of his first year at SAIF, he started to look for suitable internships. He first went to KPMG for a Winter internship and in the Summer, he went to Bain Consulting. After these two internships, he won an internship opportunity in the IBD of GF Securities to work in domestic listed companies. During his last year at SAIF, he went to CITIC Securities for a Summer internship, which was both interesting and fulfilling. With these internship experiences, An Hu was more determined than ever to enter investment banking.   Before graduating, An Hu joined Rothschild, one of the world’s leading independent investment banks, as an intern for six months, where he learned cross-border M&A processes, gained professional transaction knowledge, and practiced communication skills with clients. Deeply impressed with the internship experience at Rothschild, An Hu hoped to become a full member. After several rounds of interviews and fierce competition, he finally joined this century-old, preeminent European investment bank.   During his years at Rothschild, Chinese companies were actively going global and doing overseas M&A. As a fresh analyst, An Hu, fortunately, participated in some of Rothschild’s best projects in China, the most impressive of which was assisting a domestic chemical giant to acquire a well-known European tire company. In this project, he went through the whole process, including: the establishment of a model, translation of overseas documents in the early stage, subsequent customer due diligence, the development and measurement of the transaction structure, implementation of the M&A proposal in the later stage, and communication with domestic and foreign financial institutions during the whole process. In this M&A project, with a value of over 8 billion Euros, An Hu learned a lot and grew rapidly.   Career Change — From Agent to Owner After three years at Rothschild, An Hu began to think about whether the platform had promising prospects. He thought that cross-border M&A was still a relatively marginal platform compared to the vast local market in China. Moreover, as the Chinese economy rose and Chinese companies continue to grow, businesses relating to Chinese assets must be at the core, in the future. He also felt that investment banks might still play their role as an intermediary in the business, so he started to seek a career change to PE.   At that time, CDH Investments had a new division and position in Singapore. Its main business was to invest in overseas companies, together with mainland companies, and then help the invested companies to expand their mainland market. The job description was a perfect fit for An Hu’s background and his career plans, so he chose to join CDH and spent a year in Singapore. Though CDH was a good platform and An Hu enjoyed his life in Singapore, he still felt that the Chinese market was a larger one and he was more optimistic about the investment opportunities in Chinese companies.    Then, he encountered MBK Partners, a large independent direct investment fund focused on Northeast Asia. It mainly did equity transaction projects in China, Japan and Korea, which was rare in China. In addition, MBK Partners was also one of the top 5 fund companies in Asia. This fits perfectly with his requirements for large projects, complex deals, and the Chinese market. Soon afterward, An Hu decided to return to mainland China and joined MBK.   At MBK Partners, An Hu had been involved in the M&A of many well-known companies. He mentioned a project he was in charge of throughout the process which took him a total of more than 5 years from acquisition, to management, to sale. The frustrations and difficulties encountered in such a process were tremendous. He said that it required both knowledge of finance and the ability to run the company. Fully devoted to the project, An Hu was reluctant to leave due to the deep relationship he had developed with the invested company. An Hu said that the invested company was like his child and that his feelings were beyond words on the wedding day, but he also admitted that perhaps this was also the most charming part of M&A work. Learning Self-confidence and Inner Drive at SAIF From foreign investment banks to complex investments, An Hu followed his heart on his own career path. However, he felt that opportunity was as important as belief. For instance, SAIF provided an exemplary environment, teachers, classmates, and learning atmosphere. Although the courses did not fit very closely with practical business, they went far beyond actual needs.   “SAIF is not a vocational and technical college”, said An Hu. Staying up late with group members, difficult courses, fellow classmates who had high standards for themselves……these all helped An Hu build self-confidence and inner drive, which is what he appreciated most about SAIF.

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.