If you’re thinking about pursuing a Master in Finance, there are plenty of global financial hubs to choose from—but only one country that is advancing at an unprecedented rate.
Last year’s global bank rankings from S&P Global Market Intelligence showed that Chinese banks accounted for a fifth of the world’s largest banking corporations.
At the same time, China has been increasing their funding into tech innovation, especially in fintech—in 2016, China’s mobile payment market was 50 times that of the US.
And with the country focusing its attention on global expansion, there will be worldwide opportunities for future students with a knowledge of Chinese finance.
The Fanhai International School of Finance (FISF)—the finance school of Fudan University—offers an Elite Master of Finance placed at the crossroads of traditional financial knowledge and tech advancements.
The program aims to create financial leaders of the future and focuses on financial developments in its curriculum, including blockchain.
We spoke to Charles Chang, deputy dean of FISF, about why, if you're considering a Master in Finance, China should be your number one choice:
1. Be at the forefront of fintech
When website Fintech Ranking investigated fintech in China during their Startupbootcamp, they concluded that Shanghai has a very strong presence of fintech startups among Chinese cities, especially startups specializing in wealth management and big data.
Not only is Fanhai International School of Finance located in the center of downtown Shanghai, the school incorporates financial innovation into their curriculum, reviewing courses every year and expanding them if necessary.
“We make sure that we keep up with this market,” Charles says. “In terms of course design, we have blockchain, fintech, angel capital—we have a lot of these sort of cutting-edge topics.”
Fanhai recruit corporate leaders from inside China to help teach courses, providing students with practical two-week, immersive ‘Action Learning Projects’ which allow students to get real insight into different areas of finance.
“The course is always paired with global business leaders, so for example, the CEO of a listed company,” Charles explains. “The way that they interact, it’s not a guest speaker situation. The CEO, for example, will be engaged throughout the syllabus design process.”
“We’re guaranteed to stay fresh because our curriculum design is integrated with the economy.”
2. Learn from the best
120 of the global Fortune 500 companies are Chinese—and Fanhai benefits from having these business leaders on the curriculum.
Fanhai's own faculty of professors are globally educated, with PhDs from some of the world’s top business schools including INSEAD, University of Chicago, and Columbia University.
But the school also offers a mentorship program to students—Fanhai already has 90 possible mentors on hand, who are personally matched with students. These may come from global companies in China, or startups, but what makes them unique is they all want to help educate students at Fanhai.
“These mentors, they’re really there to tell students how to be a professional—to teach them how to be a leader in this space," Charles says.
3. Gain a global outlook
As Charles explains, China is increasingly moving towards a more global view of business—especially in universities. “China has suddenly realised that it has to have fully globalized, internationalized programs to compete going forward,” he says.
Fanhai International School of Finance has made its program as global as possible—all classes are taught in English and the school offers ample opportunities to visit companies both inside and outside China.
“We are training global experts in finance in Shanghai, rather than just people who can work in China," Charles explains.
The two-year program contains two opportunities to visit actual financial institutions worldwide—one in North America and one in Europe. Fanhai’s approach to study trips is “different to what a lot of schools do,” Charles says.
Rather than partner with business schools in the chosen country, students spend nine days visiting real corporations in some of the world’s biggest financial centers, including New York, Switzerland, and London, interacting with senior leaders and connecting their classroom learning with the real world.
4. Experience finance from every function
At the end of 2015, the financial sector in Shanghai employed almost 350,000 people, working in all sectors of finance.
As well as being taught by global leaders, the Action Learning Projects on the Elite Master of Finance at Fanhai enable students to experience every aspect to finance, giving them a strong background in every sector.
Projects are built into every one of the 16 core modules on the Master, so you’ll get to apply your skills to the real-world in sectors ranging from accounting and hedge fund management, to investment banking and fintech.
“You learn better when you’re pressed to synthesize and be creative,” Charles says, “and we believe in that as a philosophy. We realize not every student is going to be an accountant, that doesn’t mean they don’t need to know what accounting people do.”
5. Start an international finance career
Not only are Chinese banks growing at a staggering rate—the country overtook the Eurozone in 2017 to become the biggest financial system—it’s also got a growing fintech scene.
These are concentrated partly in Shanghai, also the financial hub of China–so there are plenty of employment opportunities for finance grads.
As for Fanhai, they’re focused on offering students the possibility to work in top financial institutions anywhere in the world, including in China.
“Our view is that our students will be global leaders, whether they’re working for Chinese companies, or in Hong Kong, Paris, London,” Charles says. “Their knowledge of how China integrates into the world economy is what’s going to make them a global leader.”