Feature Stories

08.06.2017

Hailing a Decade at the Cutting Edge of Global Finance

Embracing the ever-changing financial industry, the 10th anniversary of the Master of Science in Global Finance (MSGF) program jointly offered by the HKUST Business School and the New York University Stern School of Business (NYU Stern), celebrates how the program has gone from strength-to-strength during the last decade.

To celebrate the program’s 10-year milestone, more than 100 current students, alumni, faculty and distinguished guests gathered at HKUST on 6 May to attend a conference featuring leading experts from both the industry and academia, followed by a gala dinner.

Examining the future of finance

Highlighting that behavioral finance is a relatively new area, Christopher Malloy, Professor of Financial Management, Harvard Business School, and Visiting Professor, HKUST Business School, started the conference by explaining how behavioral finance combines elements of psychology and economics to investigate investor behavior in financial markets, especially when judgment and decision are made under risk and uncertainty.

Technology continues to initiate innovation and disruption in the financial industry and during a panel discussion moderated by NYU Stern Professor David Yermack, experts share their different perspectives on ways that Financial Technology (FinTech) is shaping financial institutions and impacting markets. Panel members Mr Guy Mills, CEO of Manulife Hong Kong, and Ms Bénédicte Nolens, Senior Director, Head of Risk Management and Strategy, Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), explain how FinTech is disrupting traditional financial strategies, raising questions from audience members keen to gain more insights into this current exciting and evolving topic in finance.

Response to a de-globalized world

NYU Stern Professor Menachem Brenner, MSGF Academic Director, was also in Hong Kong to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the program. As the moderator during a panel discussion examining finance markets in a de-globalized world, he elaborates on the recent volatility in financial markets, as seen during the US elections and pre- and post-Brexit voting. Brenner also took the opportunity in the city to share with regional media the insights that led to the formulation of the volatility index (VIX), and why a high or low VIX is not a signal of market direction.

Viewing the financial markets from a fixed income perspective, Mr Steve Chiu, Senior Vice-President, Head of Hong Kong Retail, Global Wealth Management at PIMCO Asia, says that in addition to reading financial reports on Bloomberg, investors these days need to take into account political sentiment, exemplified by tweets posted by US President Donald Trump. “Investors need to follow the president's tweets as part of the bigger picture to analyze geopolitical relationships and internal US policies,” says Chiu, also an HKUST MBA graduate.

MSGF class of 2008 graduate, Mr Alan Luk, Head of Private Banking and Trust Services at Hang Seng Bank, explains to the audience how the global financial crisis is still having an impact on investor sentiment and risk taking in Asia. “Cautious investors are in a difficult situation because they have not benefited from rising asset prices due to the low interest rate environment” says Luk, a member of the panel discussing the financial markets in a de-globalized world.

Meanwhile, fellow panel member and MSGF class of 2016 graduate, Mr Patryck Pimpao Merhy, Head of Asia Pacific at Patria Investments, reveals how investor-friendly policies across Latin America are attracting a growing number of first-mover investors, including investors from Asia. “Cutting through some of the negative perceptions about the region, what we are seeing are not empty promises, we see things happening,” says Pimpao Merhy, who reminds the audience that Latin America is home to about 600 million people, with a combined GDP ahead of Germany and Japan and behind China. “If Latin America was a country, it would have the third largest GDP in the world,” Pimpao Merhy reveals to the audience.

A global network of finance experts

Launched in 2007 as a partnership between two renowned academic institutions to offer a truly global finance program, the MSGF program consistently equips students with the skills needed to develop their careers and face the challenges and opportunities across the world’s financial markets. Graduates of the program are awarded a joint degree, and are affiliated with the alumni networks of HKUST and NYU. The one-year program is taught over seven modules, four in Hong Kong, two in New York, and one in Shanghai.

Participants are taught by senior academics through interactive lectures, real-life case studies and integrative projects. To date, more than 400 students from 30 countries, with average working experience of more than ten years, have graduated from the program to form an alumni network that spans the globe.

Aware of the importance of keeping the MSGF program relevant, Professor Kasper Meisner Nielsen, MSGF Academic Director at HKUST, when concluding the 10th anniversary conference, explains that the program is being constantly reviewed to provide new knowledge and skills. The MSGF program has recently added, for example, new courses on FinTech and behavioral finance.

“The FinTech revolution is going to change the finance industry dramatically, which raises a lot of questions about job security, but there is also a bright side to what is taking place, offering a lot of opportunities,” concludes Professor Nielsen.