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Finance Careers: 4 Things You Need To Know About China

With a booming fintech industry and companies expanding abroad, China's financial sector offers a host of exciting new career opportunities


Mon Oct 12 2020


As one of the world’s fastest-growing economy, China is an attractive prospect for many workers the world over. The country’s impressive strides in fintech, and rapid international expansion, form an especially distinctive finance industry.

“China’s financial sector has been undergoing quite significant reforms in the past decade,” comments Dr Seen Meng Chew, associate professor of practice in finance, and associate director for MBA programs at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK Business School).

BusinessBecause caught up with Seen Meng to ask what China's finance sector is like.

Here are four important things to know:

1. China is going through significant fintech developments

China is an undisputed world leader when it comes to fintech. Digital payments made in the country are expected to grow by 17% each year, its fintech market was worth $25.5 billion in 2018. 98786ed3476c4927316b12130439ab02374d8334.jpg

“China’s fintech industry is really ahead of many countries,” Seen Meng explains, “it’s very advanced.”

Fintech companies like Ant Financial, Tenpay, and Qudian, are blossoming in China’s extensive fintech landscape. 

Hong Kong is also emerging as a fintech hub, hosting eight virtual banks, including WeLab, and insuretech companies like OneDegree.

These organizations offer plenty of opportunities for professionals with the right skill set, and Chinese business schools play a role in providing them.

At CUHK Business School, for instance, MBA students get the chance to connect with an array of local fintech firms through business practicum projects. Every year, students are invited to tackle business cases proposed by real companies, working with them directly.

“We want our MBA students to have opportunities to work directly on real world projects,” Seen Meng explains.

Previous projects have ranged in scope from market testing to creating scalable business models. 

"These projects are sponsored by leading companies from fintech and other industries in the Greater Bay Area," says Seen Meng.

This experience will prove invaluable to students, as opportunities in this growing sector continue to emerge. 

“I think in the coming years, China will continue to be the pioneer in many different areas in the fintech industry,” Seen Meng predicts. “Many of these fintech companies are currently hiring, and expanding their business.”

2. Chinese banks are expanding overseas

Another distinguishing feature of China’s financial sector is the growing drive to internationalize.

“China is trying to open up its financial sector to the world,” explains Seen Meng. “The sector has been doing very well locally, and the next step is to expand business on an international stage.”

This landscape of expansion is the biggest advantage for finance professionals working in China over the next few years, he suggests. 

Between 2002 and 2011 alone, Chinese banks completed 38 mergers and acquisitions deals abroad. Today, Bank of China, one of the country’s ‘Big Four’ banks, operates in 57 countries. 

These expansion projects are set to continue, and organizations will need workers who are able to navigate cross-cultural collaboration, and leverage new tech developments, Seen Meng believes.

MBA graduates in the region will be well placed to take on these roles. In the CUHK Business School MBA, students get familiar with the Asian financial market through study trips to Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Singapore.

Meanwhile, technology-related courses like Digital Transformation and Innovation, and Fintech 101 familiarize students with today’s tech landscape as it applies to business.

3. The work culture is anchored in personal connections 

When conducting business in China, personal connections are key, says Seen Meng, and the finance sector is no exception. 

In China, Guanxi, which roughly translates to ‘networks’ or ‘connections,’ is crucial for making things happen.

“You need strong connections with the local business sector,” says Seen Meng. 

If you are moving your career to China from abroad, forging these connections locally can be tricky. Fortunately, attending business school can help.

Undertaking an MBA or business Master’s program will give you access to a network of alumni that you can tap into for industry insights and introductions. 

Schools like CUHK Business School also help their students connect with Chinese companies directly, by organizing talks with local executives, and networking events. 

CUHK’s Chinese Language department also offers Manderin courses for international students keen to forge stronger connections by brushing up on their linguistic skills.

4. There are ample job opportunities for MBAs 

There are plenty of job opportunities in the financial sector for MBAs graduating in China, especially in fintech, Seen Meng emphasizes.

“They need people in a lot of different capacities, who are digital-savvy,” he notes. “They also need tech professionals like data scientists and blockchain specialists.”

Despite the current economic slump, triggered by coronavirus, Seen Meng is confident that China’s financial sector will be one of the first to bounce back.

“Because they can largely provide their services remotely, financial companies are a little bit better insulated,” he notes. 

This optimistic outlook, along with fintech developments and international expansion, makes China an appealing prospect for finance professionals the world over.

This article was originally published in May 2020

Student Reviews






One of a kind

I studied Bioinformatics at CUHK last year. It was the only Master's degree in Hong Kong in this field. This program developed my analytical skills and equipped me to be a Bioinformatician in a very practical way. I enjoyed my year here and met classmates from different parts of the world. If you are thinking to enhance your profile, this degree program would be a good option.




On Campus

general education courses, unique college system, large campus

The university facilitates multi-dimension and interdisciplinary learning. In social science faculty, we need to choose courses as our faculty package from other departments (architecture, psychology, sociology, etc.) to learn more than our major required courses. We are also required to finish general education courses, which aid our critical thinking and humanistic sensibilities. I do recommend the social science broad-based program, and the professors I met so far are all responsible and erudite.





The faculty of law is relatively new. You do not need to have a LLB to pursue a LLM, which is special. The taught programme is great for mature students who want to obtain legal knowledge. CUHK has good teaching staff too.




Amazing Campus and Great Educational Environment

Not only is CUHK's main campus breathtaking, it provides for a good educational environment for students. The university is well-equipped with modern and up-to-date facilities to help students with their study. We have 8 libraries in total around the campus; one for media, one for architectural studies, the medical library and the law library. The Professors are always helpful and are happy to talk to students when needed. Moreover, the college system within the university brings forth the uniqueness of CUHK. Each student belongs to a different college, and in that students are able to meet different peoples from different countries and students from different faculties. I think CUHK provides for a well-rounded university life for all students.





One of the most down to earth places in HK. A great opportunity to learn and embody the local culture. Also had one the most beautiful campus in Hong Kong up on the hillside. Glad to have graduated here.




Innovative and Supportive

My university provided me with all the support I needed, and encouraged me to be up to date with all the new developments in the world. They also provided me with the incentive to excel at what I do, and they take much pride in my achievements. I have had a very rewarding university experience.




Small, New But Friendly Law School

To being with, I think the campus of CUHK is the best and the biggest in Hong Kong, with fresh air and trees everywhere. I am an undergraduate Law student at CUHK and I think the teaching here is great, with very friendly and nice professors and the new Lee Shau Kee Building. In terms of the courses offered by CUHK, as one of the largest universities in Hong Kong, CUHK is an all-rounded university, offering a wide range of courses to students. Students may take the introductory courses of discipline other than their own major, or even declare a minor. For law electives, due to the small amount of intake, the variety of law electives are not that huge. However, the Faculty is offering some international programmes, which can be treated as law electives, but at the same time, provide us with an opportunity to travel and know more about the legal system of another country. The career support from the Faculty of Law is also amazing. The Faculty will organise CV Sessions and talks on how to get an internship from law firms or mini-pupillage from barrister's chambers. Each student will also have a Distinguished Professional Mentor, which is a current legal profession, providing us with practical advices and updates of the legal field. Finally, from my personal experience, I think the students in CUHK are friendly and genuine. As Law students, competition is inevitable for grades, GPAs, vacation schemes and training contract. However, I think the competition in CUHK Law School is a positive one, in a sense that help us grow together, instead of fighting with each other no matter what. That is the biggest reason why I am having a very good time here in CUHK Law School.




A place to explore your interests

As a law graduate from CUHK (both undergrad and post-grad), I realise that I had many opportunities to explore my areas of interests (legal and non-legal both). The faculty/university requires us to take a certain number of non-law electives, and offers a plethora of courses to choose from. Personally, I took 3 modules in Korean --I can't say it's made me highly proficient, but it's definitely given me a good foundation (I can walk into a Korean restaurant and confidently order food, at the very least). The fact that language courses are offered also provides students who are more financially constrained an opportunity to learn a language without having to shell out a premium for a decent language course. On top of that, we have a range of law electives as well. I know of classmates who have developed lasting interest in different areas of law because of the electives they took in school. The two electives that I would say have changed me is (i) mooting and (ii) family law. I think my experience in an international commercial arbitration moot competition has helped tremendously in formulating legal arguments and legal writing. On the other hand, taking a family law elective has made me very interested in the family law practice, especially in terms of child rights. For these experiences which I have gained, I'm grateful for the opportunities provided by the school. One main issue most students I know have is with the way our GPA is calculated and the lack of transparency in terms of how the honours system works. As our GPA is marked on a curve. it's highly unrepresentative of what we have achieved as individuals. Given that our GPA is the only criteria that is looked at when we apply for the compulsory post-graduate law course (mandatory should we want to practise law and/or be trainees in Hong Kong), it will put our own students at a distinct disadvantage when we compete for limited spaces with students from schools where GPA is not on a bell curve.




On Campus

Valuable time in CUHK

I like the learning environment and people at CUHK. Surrounded by hills and Tolo Harbour, CUHK provides a balance between nature and hustle. You can always escape from the busy study life and meet your friend around the big campus for different activities.