Kevin Li, MSc Financial Technology 2019-20, student at Imperial College Business School

Programme: MSc Financial Technology

Nationality: Chinese

Education: BSc Mathematics with Statistics, University of Surrey

About you

What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?

Prior to studying at Imperial College Business School, I worked at Starbucks as a part-time barista during my first and second year of undergraduate study. After finishing my second year of studying, I interned at Amplify Trading as an Intraday Trader where I gained substantial knowledge of the financial market.

Why did you decide to study an MSc Financial Technology at Imperial College Business School?

During my internship with Amplify Trading, it was the first time I realised how different sources of information such as the release of various economic data, central bank policy meetings, and even Trump’s tweets could have a significant impact on assets’ price movement. Moreover, many investment banks and hedge funds utilise alternative data sources such as satellite images of parking lots and consumers’ online shopping behavioural traits to find information for corporate earnings.

Since then, my motivation to leverage some of the cutting-edge techniques such as machine learning and big-data analytics to capture alpha signals from different large-scale datasets has developed. MSc Financial Technology equips students with some of the advanced skillsets along with systematic knowledge in finance, which is a comprehensive programme for students who wish to go into quantitative roles in the fast-moving financial industry.


What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy the most?

I find the programme very enjoyable as it combines both the fundamentals and the innovations in finance. The programme makes sure we grasp the key theories in finance, but at the same time, it brings us the latest advancements happening in the industry right now.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

My favourite module so far would be the Big Data in Finance. This module not only introduces you the fundamentals in machine learning, but it also brings you the concepts and inspirations on how these techniques can be implemented in areas like credit default and asset management. Furthermore, Professor Tarun Ramadorai is a highly regarded lecturer in the sense that he will challenge you to think about why some of these techniques work in certain contexts, and why some are not both in lectures and assignments. He would also invite practitioners to give talks on class material. I can guarantee that you will take away many valuable lessons in this module.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

The freedom to pick the electives that are of interest to you and dive into the subjects that you are passionate about. The three electives that I chose in this programme are Text Mining for Economics and Finance, Machine Learning in Finance, and Asset Allocation & Investment Strategies. I believe the content and techniques that I equip myself from these electives will fulfil my personal interest and set me on a potential career path.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme? 

Workload, emotion management and time management. In the spring and summer term, depending on how many electives you pick, you will have two or three deadlines due every two weeks. Apart from the assignment workload, my colleagues in this programme often found it hard to balance the trade-off between job applications and study. Furthermore, your emotions will experience ups and downs throughout the year, so it’s essential to maintain an optimistic mindset and not let the surroundings change your mentality. This, by no doubt, is a challenging programme, but you will cultivate many characteristics that will be beneficial for your future career and life.


How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

My cohort is a group of talented, motivated, and ambitious individuals. The most amazing part of my cohort is that we are such a diverse group. We have people who studied computer science, finance, engineering, and mathematics, etc. You can always learn something new from your peers, whether in a group assignment or daily communication. I believe that immersing yourself in such a competitive and creative environment will bring out the best version of yourself.


What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?

The greatest opportunity I have had at Imperial is joining the Student Investment Fund. Being a Quantitative Analyst within the Statistics Arbitrage team, I have the privilege to learn the setup of a sophisticated trading strategy. Meanwhile, this allows me to form a feedback loop between skills that I learn from the class and real-life applications. I would recommend prospective students to join the Student Investment Fund if you would like to pursue quantitative roles in the future.

Have you had opportunities to work/socialise with students across programmes within the Business School?

Due to the nature of the electives, I have the chance to network and work on assignments with students from other programmes, which further expand my network at the Business School. The Student Investment Fund is also a good place to find like-minded people and build relationships with both current students and alumni. I am also one of the members of the Finance Club, where I often meet interesting people at the events.

London location

Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?

Studying in London is one of the reasons I choose to pursue my Master’s at Imperial College Business School. Known as a global financial hub, London can offer me many opportunities that other places cannot compete with. When the programme started in September, I had the privilege to attend many recruitment events at some of the bulge brackets such as UBS and JP Morgan, where I learnt the industrial trends and networked with professionals. Furthermore, as a data enthusiast, I am passionate about participating in competitions such as BlackRock Algothon and AI Hackathon (hosted at Imperial), where I get the chance to apply my skills to not only solve some of the most interesting and challenging problems, but also meet like-minded individuals and potential recruiters.

When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?

London is known as one of the most diverse cities in the world, which means that you can taste various kinds of food from all over the world. When I am not studying, I enjoy trying out new restaurants with my friends. Moreover, I also enjoy competitive games such as basketball matches or video games, which I found really beneficial as it often brings concentration and motivation to my study.


What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?

The best advice I would give to the prospective students is to simply ask questions. I would recommend you talk to the alumni and Student Ambassadors about anything you are doubting, as well as attend the on-campus events. Furthermore, you should check the programme structure and make sure the content and toolkits are indeed what you are genuinely passionate about.

Programme: MSc Financial Technology

Nationality: Chinese

Education: BSc Mathematics with Statistics, University of Surrey