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More To Finance Than Money: The Master of Finance Program Teaching Responsible Leadership

Fanhai International School of Finance is taking steps to ensure its students are finance-savvy and ethical


Sat Dec 22 2018

The financial crisis of 2008 prompted a global investigation into how banks were actually doing business. Now, consumers want to be more aware of how their banks are operating.

Add to this that technological advances have seen more people gain access to financial services than ever before—there’s been a 20% increase between 2011 and 2017 in the number of adults around the world with access to a financial institution. In a world where everyone is connected to finance, responsible leadership and management are now more important than ever.

With this in mind, the Fanhai International School of Finance (FISF) at Fudan University is taking steps to ingrain responsible leadership into its students from the very beginning of their careers.

“At the outset, we always remind our students, ‘you are playing a very important role in the economy,’” says Professor Charles Chang, deputy dean of academics at Fanhai. “The concept is very simple. The world has resources and those are limited, and our job is to apply those resources in a way that achieves the most for everyone.

“That’s what finance does. It sources money from people who have more than they can spend and provides it to people who need it.”

Creating responsible leaders

To put this mantra into practice, the two-year Elite Master of Finance at FISF includes a course taught throughout the program entitled CARE—culture, arts, responsibility, ethics.

On the CARE courses, students have the opportunity to meet leaders from a variety of industries outside of finance, including within the social services, governance, or the arts.

Students will also have the chance to meet ethical leaders within the world of finance, such as those who work in responsible investing or social enterprises.

“This is something we’ve put together to help our students have a broader vision than just ‘I need to find a job,’” explains Charles.

“If I run into a student and he says ‘I want to be an investment banker because I want to get rich,’ what we always tell students is ‘that’s not enough,’” he adds. “It will be enough for one or two years, and then once you’ve made it you’ll start to wonder why you’re doing this.”

For Charles and Fanhai International School of Finance, the goal of the Elite Master of Finance is to create students who are socially-minded, and who understand how their financial decisions can affect others.

“We never focus on the career goal in and of itself,” Charles says, “we always focus on, ‘what do you hope to achieve in your lifetime, and what career will help you to achieve that?’”


As well as a core part in social responsibility, students get to learn about the best leadership practices through a mentorship program.

Fanhai currently has over 100 mentors available to coach students, all from various industries both inside and outside the financial world.

Charles says that the mentorship program on the Elite Master of Finance at Fanhai International School of Finance is different from those available at other business schools.

“These mentors they’re really there to share how to be a professional, to teach you how to be a leader in this space,” Charles says.

The mentors even go through their own selection process, in which the school “filters them in terms of their own moral ethics,” Charles explains. “These guys all go through interviews we want to hear what their value proposition, so the mentors we end up bringing in are genuinely the ones that want to help.”

While at many business schools, the aim of mentoring is to secure full-time jobs for students after their studies, at Fanhai they take a more responsible approach. 

“Choosing mentors with good intentions is just another part of us making sure that our students view themselves as custodians, and people who are expected to serve, just as these mentors do,” he explains.

The mentors available to students on Fanhai’s program are “listed company CEOs, from globally known firms,” Charles adds. Though Master in Finance students may not gain an internship or job through their mentor, they learn what it takes to be a good, responsible leader.