In economics, the Law Of Diminishing Marginal Utility states that all else equal, the marginal utility derived from each additional unit declines as consumption increases.

Similarly, there comes the point beyond which the effort to earn that extra dollar is no longer worthwhile in the working world.

This is something that students lured to the finance sector because of monetary gains should remember well, Dr. Peng Xu shares.

“If you are not interested in what you are doing, money will not be enough,” she quips.

The Finance World Is Your Oyster

As the Associate Academic Director of Master in Finance (MiF) at ESSEC Business School, Asia-Pacific, Xu has observed that opportunities in finance are increasing with digitalization.

The rising interest in digital financial services and technological development has propelled the fintech sector’s growth and demand for talents with solid finance and data analytics knowledge. The need is also for professionals in risk management, including ESG (environmental, social, and governance) risks, as the awareness of investors and regulations increases.

As a mentor who has helped countless students secure their dream jobs, she shares: “I don’t think your background should stop you from pursuing what you want. If you don’t have a quantitative background, and you want to be a trader, you just have to learn”.

Students at ESSEC are well-equipped to pick up the knowledge they need. Besides the school’s intense curriculum, support comes from an established internal career services team, external consultants like AlumnEye providing training for finance interviews, and various industry talks.

“We build connections with as many financial institutions to help our students understand the different professions and to create networking opportunities,” Xu says.

“So even though academic institutions can’t give students jobs, we can train them as best as possible to help them secure jobs independently.”

Take Charge of the Change You Want to Make

Yet, she cautions that more than finding a job is needed as the finance sector evolves continuously. One must be “proactive and able to propose things to ensure they remain valuable.”

“The only way to do this is to keep learning to ensure you have the most up-to-date knowledge,” she states.

True to this belief, even after completing her Ph.D., Xu upgraded by obtaining a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and a recognized risk management credential, PRMIA PRM.

For over a decade with ESSEC, she has remained active in the financial circles, constantly updating her teaching and the program curriculum.

Drawing back to her advice about needing passion, she explains that her ability to do this is because her multifaceted role perfectly intersects her love for numbers, passion for teaching, and desire to be at the forefront of global changes.

She also believes extrinsic motivation like money will only take you so far. “It is only when you are passionate that you are willing to keep learning,” she reiterates.