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How My MBA Is Helping Me Break Into Investment Banking In Greater China

Raymond Liao has always had a passion for finance. Now, he’s using an MBA in Hong Kong to pivot from corporate to investment banking

Investment banking is a popular career choice for MBAs the world over. Offering graduates a fast-paced environment, competitive salary, and plenty of scope for progression, the sector holds great appeal for students with an interest in finance.

Raymond Liao is one such MBA student. Raymond began his career in corporate banking, working as a relationship manager with China Zheshang Bank in Shenzhen. 

He enjoyed the work, but after a few years he was ready for his next challenge. Keen to stay in the financial realm, but looking for a path that would allow greater opportunities for growth, and better compensation, he soon settled on investment.

Working in investment banking would give Raymond the chance to help companies grow, rather than managing day-to-day financial as he would in a corporate finance career. 

“If I choose to engage in such a fierce industry, I’ll have a sharp learning and growth curve, which will offer me more choices in the future,” he reflects. “I was also drawn to the satisfaction of helping entrepreneurs and companies grow and expand.”

Without prior experience, Raymond decided to build his industry knowledge and connections by attending business school. After considering a few programs in the Greater Bay Area, Raymond accepted a spot on the MBA at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), because along with a high quality education, the school gave him easy access to the Greater Bay Area, and the career opportunities it offers.


Connections for a career in investment

Before his MBA, Raymond was living in Shenzhen, but the transition to life in Hong Kong went smoothly. 

“I had some excellent friends working or studying in Hong Kong,” he recalls. “I also realized I could easily work there, because the financial industry was well developed.”

Hong Kong's financial jobs market is thriving—representing almost 20% of the region's total GDP, and home to some 175 banks. At the same time, the city acts as a gateway to further opportunities in greater China.

For Raymond, building a strong professional network in China was one of the key benefits the MBA offered. In 2019, 98% of MBA alumni secured jobs in Asia, while 23% entered the financial services industry. 

Accessing this far-reaching network has been easy with the help of the MBA office, Raymond notes. Networking with successful alumni is one important way that Raymond is preparing for his new career.

At CUHK, career switchers like Raymond are common—in fact, 87% of the 2018 MBA cohort changed careers after graduation.  

Along with these alumni connections, Raymond has also built close relationships with his peers in the MBA program. 

“There’s more to studying an MBA than landing a good job,” he reflects. “It was a unique chance to meet real friends who have the same passion and goals as I do.” 

Clubs and societies at CUHK offer an equally important way for MBA students to gain insight and connections in their target industry. 

As president of the Private Equity and Venture Capital Club, Raymond is helping others find their footing in investment.

The student-led club links current MBAs to industry professionals who can offer advice and education that will help them launch a successful career.


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Source: CUHK MBA Employment report class of 2019


A tailored program with hands-on experience

At CUHK, Raymond has been able to tailor the MBA to his own professional interests, choosing to study the Finance and Technology specialization.

Students who opt for this track study courses like corporate fundraising, fintech analytics, and applying AI and machine learning to finance.

“I could also take tailor-made classes for particular industries—like consulting, supply chain, entrepreneurship, venture capital, and private equity,” Raymond adds. 

For Raymond, these classes were elevated by the quality and enthusiasm of his instructors.

“My professors have substantial work experience in the financial industry, and  are willing to guide us on our adventures with their best effort,” he says. 

Once MBA students have developed new skills in the classroom, they have the chance to hone them with hands-on learning opportunities like global study trips and case competitions. 

The business practicum module also gives students the chance to work with a Hong Kong corporation on real-world business challenges.


Embarking on a new career in investment

Raymond is already making strides in his new career, with a summer internship at CLSA—a Hong Kong based investment bank. 

As a corporate finance and capital markets intern, Raymond is gaining insight into pre-IPO investment and IPO deals in industries ranging from real estate to healthcare. 

“When I graduate, my goal is to find a job as an associate in a top-tier investment bank, or get a return offer from the summer internship,” he says.

With the skills and network his time at CUHK has yielded so far, Raymond feels confident in his future with the finance industry. 

“I always know the right direction for me, and have kept up my momentum by finding an internship, networking, and learning the skills required for investment banking,” he concludes. "[Pursuing] an MBA is not just about passive learning, though—you have to proactively reach out and grasp opportunities."

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