China is the world’s biggest user of financial technology, or fintech. 69% of the Chinese population have adopted fintech in their day-to-day lives, and this figure is set to rise to 77% next year.
To see the explosion of fintech in the country, look no further than China's Ant Financial. The affiliate company of Alibaba has been valued at $150bn—more than the net worth of Goldman Sachs and American Express.
With new tech like blockchain also revolutionizing how the financial markets operate, there will be plenty of opportunities in the next few years to get a start in the fintech industry in China.
With this in mind, the Elite Master of Finance at Fudan University's Fanhai International School of Finance (FISF) is making sure students are ready for the financial revolution.
“Our students have to know that the stuff I learned 20 years ago at Wharton, while conceptually it’s all great, it just doesn’t get you a job anymore,” says Professor Charles Chang, director of Fanhai Fintech Research Center, and deputy dean of academics at Fanhai, Fudan University.
To prepare students for an ever-changing financial environment, Fanhai incorporates curriculum changes into their Master of Finance program every year. “Some courses will really evolve very very quickly, whereby every year the content will really shift,” says Charles. “Other courses that are more foundational might evolve more slowly—but the review will happen all the same.”
An evolving curriculum is just one way that Fanhai is tackling the question of how to modernize financial education—the school also employ listed-company CEOs to teach on their electives and assist in the curriculum design.
“All of our programs here have a professor, someone who has been globally trained at a top PhD program—but the course is always paired with a global business leader, and together they will design the curriculum,” Charles explains.
This means that for each of the 16 core courses on the program, a professional from that specific industry is there to share their knowledge with students. They do this through Action Learning Projects, which last for two weeks, during which students will have the chance to apply their learning in a real-world project.
Fanhai International School of Finance has its campus in Shanghai, the financial capital of China. There are already 1,537 financial institutions housed in the city, and 30% of these are international companies—and having a ‘dual professor’ program means students gain expertise directly from these companies.
Charles teaches a module on fintech on the master program and says that keeping up with the industry can be difficult.
“If you’re talking about centralized knowledge, there simply isn’t any! There’s no globally accepted best textbook, no simple, ‘cookie cutter’ format to do this course,” he says.
“We're able to teach these courses because we have integration with the industry. These CEOs are the guys that have been there since the start, and they see how this industry is evolving.”
As well as getting an in-depth look at financial institutions in Shanghai, Fanhai takes their students outside China on international learning trips each year.
Unlike other universities, Fanhai doesn't only partner with business schools in Europe and the US for its international trips—instead, students will get to experience life at real financial institutions, engaging with business leaders, “which is pretty unique,” Charles adds.
For Charles, though, the most important thing on the Elite Master of Finance program is getting students to think about future technology during their studies, regardless of what career path they’re interested in.
“We believe very strongly that in the next 10 years the entire industry is going to shift. With the advent of blockchains, we’re already hearing people in investment talk about absolutely disruptive changes,” he says.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know industries are going to change. Now I want our students to be able to interact with technology better.”