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Programme only for the toughest

Published on Thursday, 08 Sep 2011

Master of Science in Finance
Chinese University of Hong Kong

Thomson Cheng, director of the investment advisory group at HSBC Private Bank (Suisse), is a man in motion. "If one is not moving forward, it means that he or she is falling behind," he says. Hence, to avoid lagging, Cheng applied for a place on the master of science in finance programme at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). 

Cheng says he chose the course to challenge himself. "[An] EMBA is more about making business connections while the finance programme focuses on calculation exercises and reading. `Tough' is the word to describe the programme. 

"The course on derivative markets taught by Professor Chak Wong explains everything. Last year, I spent almost all of my 30 days of annual leave on studying. But all the hardship was worth it because at the end of the day, I really did learn a lot," Cheng says.

The CUHK professor agrees. "My advice is do not consider the programme if you are not ready to commit a lot of your time. We make sure our students gain knowledge, not simply a qualification," Wong says. 

He adds that many students misunderstand finance and his first job is to correct these misconceptions. "Finance is the channel to transfer capital from a depositor to a country or a corporation that is in need of capital. Working on initial public offerings (IPO) and debt liquidation are the core business of finance," he says. 

The capital structure course includes analysing IPO documents, convertible bonds, debt capital markets and analysing bond documents. Meanwhile, corporate financial reporting develops the skills required to interpret the information contained in financial statements. 

Wong notes that law is an important part of finance. "We are not training students to do a lawyer's job, but knowledge in law that governs security markets and transactions in securities is closely related to work in finance," he adds. 

The programme attracts banking industry employees, yet they are not the only applicants. "We also have management level employees across various fields, and from big corporations such as the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Securities and Futures Commission," says Wong. 

The programme is offered in both part-time and full-time modes. The latter takes a year to complete and is popular among fresh graduates. The part-time course takes two to four years. 

Lessons are held on weekday evenings and Saturdays. Weekday classes are held at CUHK's campuses in Admiralty and Central. 

Applicants should hold a good bachelor's degree of not lower than a second class honours or have achieved an average grade of not lower than a "B". Applications are also welcome from non-business graduates and holders of relevant professional qualifications equivalent to a bachelor's degree. All applicants are required to submit a GMAT or GRE score obtained within the past five years.

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