Like all areas of the economy, the financial sector is undergoing a seismic technological transformations. The changes that technology is bringing about are particularly significant for Hong Kong given the importance of finance to the economy of the city. Financial technology, or fintech, simply refers to the use of technology to improve activities and processes in the finance industry. There is no single one technology associated with fintech. Blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing or big data, to name a few, all fall under the fintech umbrella. Specific and significant know-how is required to develop fintech solutions using any of these technologies. The technological evolution visible within the financial sector is creating a talent nexus, with finance experts interested in learning about technology, and technology talent focusing on finance. With this in mind, universities are offering a variety of postgraduate fintech programmes developed by different departments, each with their own nuance. At Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), the Master of Science in Financial Technology (MSc in Fintech) brings together the School of Business and Management, School of Engineering and School of Science. The programme is available in full-time (one-year) and part-time (two-year) modes. An intake of 60 students is expected next year and beyond. “We align the education resources and combine the efforts of three schools. The programme draws expertise from timely areas such as information technology, blockchain, data science, machine learning and decision analytics,” says Professor Hui Kai-lung, the programme’s academic director. “It is designed for talents and working professionals who want to combine technical and financial knowledge to generate innovative solutions that meet the challenges of this emerging field.” Students come from a variety of backgrounds. More than 70 per cent are engineering, mathematics and statistics, accounting, business or marketing management graduates, and come from universities in mainland China, the US, Australia, the UK and elsewhere. “Our graduates can analyse the engineering mechanisms and financial principles of new and emerging financial technologies, and formulate and solve fintech-related problems using practical means supported by the latest engineering methodologies and quantitative techniques,” says Hui. The course at HKUST gains extra appeal from the fact that electives are offered to help strengthen students’ professional knowledge and tailor their skill-sets. For example, these electives include courses such as “Capstone fintech cases and analysis”, “Structured products”, and “Fintech: the future of the financial industry”. Apart from the core curriculum, the programme also incorporates co-curricular activities such as enrichment workshops and industry projects to teach students “real-life state-of-the-art ideas and practices”, according to Hui. The programme draws expertise from timely areas such as information technology, blockchain, data science, machine learning and decision analytics Professor Hui Kai-lung, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Alexander Fuchs, a 2020 graduate of the programme, thinks highly of its design because his goal was to work for a fintech company or an established financial institution. “It was very important to me to gain domain knowledge in finance as well as technical knowledge. The MSc Fintech programme offered exactly this, in addition to highlighting current market trends,” says Fuchs. To better provide career guidance and support services for full-time students, Hui says, there is a series of international talks for students to explore career options around the region and position themselves for global opportunities. The value of networking can never be overestimated. “Our alumni, as part of the supportive community, are welcome to help each other unlock their potential by sharing expertise and insights. The various alumni networking activities such as gatherings, mixers and reunions provide an engaging opportunity for alumni and current students to interact with business professionals from diverse backgrounds,” explains Hui. Another aim of the programme is to enhance its connection with overseas institutions. Students can apply for a half-term at ESSEC Business School, a French grandes école based in Paris with campuses also in Singapore and Morocco. The Master of Science in Fintech programme offered by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) also nurtures the next generation of fintech professionals who are technologically adept and business savvy. “In discussions with financial services institutions and regulators in Hong Kong, they expressed difficulties in recruiting high-calibre fintech talent to their organisations. Our fintech programme is truly an interdisciplinary programme that engages professional training across engineering, business and law,” says Professor Chan Chun-kwong. The programme combines different departments, with each contributing their strengths, including the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, the Department of Information Engineering, the Department of Systems Engineering and Engineering Management, the Faculty of Business Administration and the Faculty of Law. The result is a truly all-round education. “Students in the programme can acquire both cutting-edge theoretical knowledge and practical, hands-on knowledge from faculty members and experienced industry practitioners,” remarks Chan. With a flexible design, the programme offers a curriculum that provides three tracks: namely a course track, a practicum track and an industrial project track. For each track, students need to fulfil both required and elective courses. Many banks, including Bank of China (HK), Citibank, Dah Sing Bank, DBS, Hang Seng, HSBC and Zhong An International, as well as technology companies and institutions such as the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI), have committed to sponsoring students’ industrial projects, as well as offering internship positions. Students in the programme can acquire both cutting-edge theoretical knowledge and practical and hands-on knowledge from faculty members and experienced industry practitioners Professor Chan Chun-kwong, Chinese University of Hong Kong David Deng, who interned at Hang Seng Bank, valued the experience. “Instructed by experienced mentors and assigned challenging but interesting assignments, I became more innovative, interactive and effective, helping me transfer from a business student to a fintech student. Without this unforgettable experience, I wouldn’t consider starting my career in Hong Kong,” he says. Students can apply for an HK$80,000 tuition waiver of admission scholarship as well as a HK$15,000 academic achievement scholarship at the time of graduation. Hang Seng Bank’s FinTecubator Scholarship project also provides HK$50,000 sponsorships. Looking beyond master’s degrees, Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) goes one step further and offers a Doctor of Fintech (DFinTech) Programme through a three-year part-time model. This is “the pioneering fintech doctorate for senior managers in the world”, according to Professor Wilson Tong, Professor of Finance at PolyU. Launched by the university’s Faculty of Business, the programme aims to help Hong Kong enhance its fintech capabilities and take advantage of the digital transformation taking place worldwide. The programme is tailored for people with prior experience and knowledge of fintech, including senior executives aiming to carry out digital applications in the financial industry, and government officials working on policies and regulations related to economics, trade and finance. “The programme has attracted senior executives from the mainland, Thailand and other places,” says Tong. “The students have different business backgrounds, such as fintech start-ups, education and so on. The diversity contributes to a stimulating learning environment.” Like others, the programme is interdisciplinary and draws resources from the Faculty of Business, the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Construction and Environment. The coursework revolves around eight subjects, including one compulsory subject, one core subject and six taught or non-taught elective advanced subjects. The programme covers relevant topics such as the digital economy, fintech, digital supply chain management, digital management and marketing, big data, AI, blockchain, cloud computing, cybersecurity and so on. Apart from the curriculum courses, students have the opportunity to participate in digital transformation programmes with the IMD Business School in Switzerland. The size of the class is around 20. The programme also pays particular attention to the integration of academic studies, applied research and management practices. “Various research centres and facilities at PolyU are involved in our programme,” explains Tong, “including the AMTD Fintech Centre of the PolyU Faculty of Business, the University Research Facility in Big Data Analytics and the Smart Cities Research Institute. Students can also enrol in the DFinTech Residential course, in which they can define their own business or management problems and develop digital solutions.