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Why Do A Master In Financial Engineering?

A chief risk officer and a quantitative analyst share how the Master of Science (MSc) in Financial Engineering from Nanyang Business School helped them thrive in quantitative finance

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Tue May 11 2021

BusinessBecause

The financial sector is undergoing a digital revolution, spurring a growing need for professionals with a knack for quantitative finance, a discipline that draws on mathematics, computer science, and statistics when working with the financial markets.

In quantitative finance, complex mathematical models are used to price assets, assess risk, and predict how the market will move.

According to the Economist’s Intelligence Unit, 77% of banking executives think that technologies like AI will be a major factor in the success or failure of their company.

But entering the world of high-tech finance requires a very specific set of skills, and business schools have an important role to play in training the next generation of finance professionals.

At Nanyang Business School (NBS) in Singapore, the Master of Science (MSc) in Financial Engineering (MFE) is equipping young professionals with the toolkit they need to thrive in high-tech financial roles.

BusinessBecause caught up with two MFE graduates to find out how the program helped them kick-start careers in quantitative finance.


Growing into a c-suite role—Eng Siong Ang

Eng Siong Ang is the chief risk officer for OCBC Bank's subsidiary in Shanghai, China—a role he was offered less than ten years after graduating from the MFE at NBS.  5db578aa698d22b96e6f36ba9e5577c23a97c1ec.jpeg

An economist by training, Eng Siong began his career with the Monetary Authority of Singapore, forecasting economic variables in sectors from property to financial services.

When the 2008 financial crisis hit, the economic uncertainty spurred him to upskill.

“There were questions about how banks would have to evolve after the crisis, and how jobs in finance might change,” he recalls. “With all this uncertainty at the front of my mind, the MFE made a lot of sense.” 

Eng Siong was drawn to the rigor of the NBS curriculum, which offered a firm grounding in computing alongside more traditional financial topics. One highlight of the program was studying a semester at Carnegie Mellon University in the US. 

For six weeks in the US, Eng Siong’s cohort studied topics including financial computing, simulation methods, and advanced risk management. 

“We worked with statistical software to solve real-world problems, such as how to price a combination of options,” says Eng Siong.

“There was a lot of hands-on work, and we really had to apply what we learnt in the program to these challenges.”

The MFE also led Eng Siong onto his current career path in risk management. After the financial crisis, risk management roles were in high demand, and he was able to leverage the programming skills he picked up at NBS to excel in the field.

But technical skills were just one side of the coin. The ability to distill business insights from large volumes of data, and present them convincingly to stakeholders, is another skill he practiced during the MFE.

“Over the years as I progressed into more senior roles, I found this to be increasingly relevant,” he explains.

When he first graduated, Eng Siong joined OCBC Bank as a management associate, and the rest is history. In his current role as chief risk officer in China, he oversees all aspects of risk management, including credit risk, asset liability, and market risk.

“The world, and especially the banking industry, is undergoing a digital revolution, with technologies like AI and cloud computing all transforming how we do business,” he says.

“The skills I picked up at NBS provided me with a good basis to navigate this new world.”


Landing the dream job— Sihan Yu

Sihan Yu first entered the world of finance “by accident,” but it turned out to be a huge passion.

After graduating from her bachelor’s in electrical engineering, Sihan joined PwC as a consultant focused on tech projects. But after being assigned to a financial risk analytics team, she quickly developed a deep interest in the topic.

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“Over the years I taught myself a lot about financial markets and derivatives, but after a while it was hard for me to learn more on my own,” she says. 

If she was going to pivot careers and join the highly competitive field of quantitative finance, she would need a new toolkit—that’s where the MFE came in.

“It offers everything you need in order to be successful in this field, covering mathematics, computer science, and finance,” Sihan explains.

For Sihan, the fact that much of the program was project-based was a real highlight. This gave her the chance to hone her communication, teamwork, and leadership skills at the same time as gaining technical prowess.

One project required Sihan and her team to act as an investment bank, designing a structured product from scratch. This involved everything from structuring, to pricing, to hedging. 

“We even came up with a company logo and pitched to our professor who played the role of MD at a hedge fund,” she says.

Throughout these projects, Sihan drew on the expertise of her professors, who provided tips and guidance without offering all the answers—mimicking a real work environment. 

When she graduated, she was able to transfer this skillset to her new career. Today, she is a quantitative analyst—known in the industry as a quant—at Standard Chartered Bank, working mainly on derivatives pricing and valuation.

“I am a front-office quant, meaning we design and implement complex mathematical models that allow financial firms to price and trade securities,” she explains.

Quants like Sihan work directly with traders, providing them with the pricing and trading tools required for them to make intelligent decisions.

“I would say I use 80% of what I learned in the MFE in my day-to-day job—it’s a must-have entry point for quant careers.

“People in the industry call us ‘the rocket scientists of Wall Street’,” Sihan says with a laugh. “It’s my dream job.”

Student Reviews

Nanyang Business School

Student

Verified

6/07/2020

Good campus life and extra-curricular activities

This is a great place to learn and interact with more like-minded people. The campus is something that stands out to me. The infrastructure is great and the university is very well-built. There is lots to do on the high campus, from a large number of eating joints to the numerous clubs and sports activities. I also quite like Singapore as a country, as there is so much to do around not very far from campus. The educational facilities are extremely good, there are lots of opportunities to take on research projects and do industrial projects, which I really enjoy. The only thing I dislike about NTU is that the number of international students is really low and I would like to see a larger international intake in the future. Definitely recommend for the amazing educational facilities and on-campus social life.

Student

Verified

12/06/2020

An international campus that provided diverse choices for students

It's a beautiful campus with a high degree of internationality, providing diverse choices for students in terms of research opportunities and career consultation. Also, scholars are knowledgable and very inspiring, and are good at motivating the thinking of students.

Student

Verified

12/06/2020

Great University

In overall, the university has met my expectations with its wonderful lectures and research staff. However, there are some issues with the administrative side, i.e. administration may give you different answers on the same question. Also, the university’s website often provides outdated information and it takes time to get what you need; perhaps there is not enough people for managing it.

Student

Verified

1/06/2020

Good resources

I would recommend. Good resources for research. Knowledgeable professors and instructors. Conducive environment for studying and doing assignments. Helpful staff and faculty. Food options are good. An overall good place to study.

Student

Verified

18/09/2023

On Campus

inefficient communication and lack of transparency

The administrative team at the university is slow to respond and is often inadequate in their responses and solutions. The uni is also unclear and resistant to explain their actions and motivations when carrying out policies or when questioned

Nilah

Verified

13/03/2024

On Campus

Formative experience for success

NTU prioritizes giving students ample time for independent research. The academic schedule consists of 6–7 weeks of study, followed by a week without classes, allowing students to catch up on any material they may have missed. This is succeeded by another 6–7 weeks of study, culminating in a week dedicated to final exam preparation and exams. The curriculum is designed to be student-friendly, minimizing burdens such as excessive assignments, projects, exams, quizzes, and attendance requirements. This approach affords students the freedom to pursue personal interests and self-development. In my experience, each of the four courses I took had a comparable workload, typically comprising 2 assignments, 3 easy labs, 2–3 quizzes (some without), and 1 final exam. In contrast, comparable courses at other universities often entail significantly heavier workloads, including 3 homework assignments, 5 projects, 5–6 pop-up quizzes, mandatory attendance, 2 midterms, and 1 final exam. Moreover, each project typically demands 3–4 days of work. It is hard work, but it pays off.

Lim

Verified

11/04/2024

On Campus

Academic atmosphere

Nanyang Technological University offers a vibrant academic atmosphere that fosters innovation and excellence. The strong emphasis on research and practical learning equips students with real-world skills. Positives include access to state-of-the-art facilities, collaborative projects, and a diverse student body. However, the competitive environment can be intense, leading to high stress levels. NTU's academic atmosphere encourages growth but requires resilience to thrive.

Xu

Verified

11/04/2024

On Campus

Diverse professors

As a student at Nanyang Technological University, I have been extremely impressed with the quality of education I have received. The professors are knowledgeable, approachable, and passionate about their subjects, which makes learning engaging and enjoyable. The teaching styles vary from lecture-based to interactive discussions and group projects, providing a well-rounded learning experience. The use of technology in the classrooms also enhances our understanding of the course material. One of the things I love about NTU is the diversity on campus. Not only are there students from all over the world, but the professors also come from various backgrounds, making the learning environment truly global. English is the main language spoken on campus, which makes it easy for international students to feel at home. In terms of examinations and coursework, the workload can be challenging at times, but the support from professors and classmates makes it manageable. The exams are fair and assess our understanding of the material effectively.

Lee

Verified

11/04/2024

On Campus

Video lectures

As a student at Nanyang Technological University, I am extremely impressed with the transportation options available on campus. The buses and shuttles make it easy to get around the huge campus. The beautifully landscaped garden campus adds a peaceful and scenic vibe to studying. The facilities, from the state-of-the-art labs to the comfortable study spaces, are top-notch. The video lectures are a convenient and effective way to supplement classroom learning.

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