Name: Vincent Lee Chun-man
Course: Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Quantitative Finance
School: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Year of Study: Year Three
Duration of programme: Three years
Young Post: What courses do you have to study?
Lee: In the first year, we take courses similar to those in the Bachelor of Business Administration programme.
We study accounts, economics and finance, but we have more mathematics classes.
In addition, there's computer programming and business case studies.
In Year Two and Year Three, we take more advanced financial, mathematics and statistics courses.
We also have to do a company project in our final year.
The programme covers investment strategies, portfolio management, derivatives pricing and risk management.
YP: What is the difference between quantitative finance, and economics and finance?
L: Our programme concentrates more on mathematics and business and less on economics.
YP: What's your favourite course?
L: The finance practicum in my last semester. I helped a company study the stock markets in China and Hong Kong.
We investigated the possibility of stocks replacing traditional bonds.
I was in charge of the project, conducting research and analyses and communicating with the company's representatives. It gave me a lot of satisfaction.
YP: To study this programme, should a student be in the science stream and have a strong mathematics background?
L: No, it's not compulsory to have top results in additional or pure mathematics.
But if applicants are good at maths, it will be an advantage.
Also, they don't have to be from the science stream.
The course does not directly test their maths skills. What's more important is the time and effort they put into solving problems.
YP: What did you learn from your internships?
L: During summer after Year One, I worked at Disneyland in Florida as part of an international college programme.
It was an enriching experience. I had to use English all the time.
I was most impressed with their quality of customer service. No matter how unreasonable the clients are, they are still treated with respect.
It's quite different from Hong Kong.
Managers in the US are like mentors to their staff, and they stress the importance of putting their customers first.
In the summer after my second year, I worked at an investment bank in Tokyo.
I was able to make use of what I had learned.
I also learned a lot about mergers and acquisitions.
YP: Do students learn how to invest?
L: I learned about the stock market, derivatives, options and warrants; how banks price the stocks; market theories; and investor sentiment.
The professors focus mainly on theories and analyses.
They don't tell us what stocks or bonds we should buy.
I've had investment experience and the programme gave me a better understanding of how the markets work.
I use the knowledge when I make investments.
Applicants have to obtain at least a pass in two AL subjects, or a pass in one AL subject and two AS subjects. The subjects must include a Grade E in AL Pure Mathematics or AL Applied Mathematics; or a Grade B in HKCEE Additional Mathematics, AS Mathematics and Statistics or AS Applied Mathematics. In addition, a Grade D in AS Use of English and a pass in AS Chinese Language and Culture are required.
Since the first batch of quantitative finance students will not graduate until this summer, information on employment prospects is not available yet.
Graduates can take up jobs which focus on quantitative financial skills in fields such as investment and commercial banking, portfolio management, and insurance.
Graduates can also look for jobs which deal with equities and bond analyses, derivative sales and trading, asset management, risk control and trading system support.