It’s a common misconception that a successful finance career starts with a finance degree. As we find out from speaking to a banking industry professional and an associate academic director, many start with undergraduate degrees in other fields and use the right follow-on course to pivot their careers in the direction they want to go.
Chao graduated from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) with a bachelor’s in mathematics and economics and worked as a relationship manager before completing ESSEC’s renowned Master in Finance (MIF). The program’s career-oriented and hands-on focus allowed him to graduate with three relevant internships and he is now an executive management associate within the Institutional Banking Group at DBS Bank.
Chao explains why the program is suitable for anyone interested in pursuing a career in finance: “A strong interest and passion in finance will always help candidates do well in the MIF. A lot of MIF students from non-finance backgrounds, including myself, developed and sharpened our skills and modelling expertise as time went on.”
Transferable skills from his undergraduate degree, such as quantitative skills and a logical thinking mindset, allowed him to succeed in the MIF. He now uses the knowledge acquired during the MIF course in his day-to-day work, providing customized solutions to SMEs and corporations. “Financial statement analysis and financial management tools gained in the MIF help me to analyze company financial and operational strengths and weaknesses,” he says.
His tips for students from non-finance backgrounds who want to make a switch: read to widen your knowledge in finance and find out what interests you about it; learn about financial products based on first-hand experience; and undertake internships to supplement your learning.
Ranked 4th best Master in Finance in the world by the Financial Times, ESSEC’s MIF helped many like Chao launch their dream careers in investment banking or financial services. Depending on your background and last degree, ESSEC’s MIF takes place over 1 or 2 years and can be completed in Singapore or France, with the possibility of inter-campus mobility.
Besides the knowledge gained from modules, ESSEC’s MIF ensures graduates are career-ready by organizing professional talks by industry experts, arranging networking opportunities with alumni and industry professionals, and offering one-on-one career counselling.
Dr Peng Xu, Associate Academic Director of the MIF, says: “With Asia and Europe as two of the world’s financial powerhouses, having a sound understanding of both markets is a strong competitive edge for individuals who want to build successful careers in finance.”
She points out talents with advanced knowledge in programming, big data analytics and financial technology are currently in high demand. “A sound understanding of disruptive financial innovations and analytical skills to optimize financial decisions that address industry challenges therefore make graduates with these highly sought after by employers.”
Graduates of the MIF occupy a range of positions, across investment banking, corporate finance, private equity, venture capital, fintech, asset and wealth management, trading and risk.
They go on to join some of the world’s most renowned investment banks and financial institutions. Notable employers include Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Nomura, Rothschild, HSBC, Citi, Natixis, UBS and Standard Chartered.
ESSEC’s MIF can be tailored to individual needs via the choice to specialize in one of these 3 tracks: Corporate Finance, Financial Markets, FinTech & Analytics (only available in Singapore). As Peng highlights, FinTech is one of the fastest growing sectors of the global economy, with London and Singapore being the leading fintech hubs.
“Participants of this track can look forward to careers in quantitative asset and risk-management, data-based market making and trading, quantitative hedge funds and jobs involving automation of traditional finance functions,” says Peng.
Furthermore, ESSEC’s networks and industry events will provide you opportunities to meet potential employers such as banks, asset management companies, investment firms and brokerages.
Finally, ESSEC partners with the CFA Institute and France’s Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) so you may prepare to become a qualified chartered financial analyst or practitioner in France whilst completing your MIF.