• ESSEC Master in Finance students took charge of planning their study trips to financial centers worldwide.
  • Having two study trip locations allowed students to dive into their preferred choice of one of the most competitive financial centers in the world.
  • Students testify to understanding the industry, the cultural context of the market, and their potential future careers.

A key advantage of undertaking the ESSEC Master in Finance (MiF) is its emphasis on industry experiences that empower graduates for the real world. At the ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus, this involves diving headfirst into real-world cases, engaging with industry professionals during guest talks—and the highly anticipated annual study trip.

Study trips allow MiF students to travel to a global financial hub, visit leading financial organizations, network with professionals, and, ultimately, learn more about the sectors they hope to enter.

With pandemic restrictions lifted, the 2023 MiF cohort embarked on not one but two week-long study trips to financial centers ranked in the top five of the 2023 Global Financial Center Index (GFCI): A trip to London at the start of their MiF journey, and another to either Hong Kong or New York at the end of the school year.

Designed by Students, for Students

True to ESSEC’s learning by doing pedagogy, preparation for the real world began even before the study trips commenced, as students organized the trips themselves—from designing the program structure to prospecting for speakers, planning the logistics, and executing daily events.

“This allows the student organizers to apply life skills that they can only learn with experience and, in the larger scheme of things, also be able to build and widen their network,” Peng Xu, Associate Academic Director of Master in Finance, ESSEC Business School, Asia-Pacific, explains.

Despite the challenges of juggling coursework alongside trip planning, the organizing committees delivered, successfully bringing together a good mix of companies from global banks to fintech and tech firms to give their classmates a holistic view of the finance sector.

Embracing Diverse Perspectives

Having two separate study trips catered to the diversity of the interests within the student body—allowing them to dive deep into the cultural nuances and intricacies of a region they are keen on.

Chloe Wang, who was part of the Hong Kong study trip, found it eye-opening to hear from Japanese financial services firm Nomura how it maintained its stronghold in the Asia-Pacific region.

Equally enlightening for her was visiting the museum at the Hong Kong Exchange (HKEX), which allowed her to understand the history of the HKEX and the impact various geopolitical events had on it, she says.

Chloe’s classmate Jing Xu had a similar experience in New York. One of Jing’s highlights was learning how the Italian banking group Intesa Sanpaolo uses its hub in the US capital as a gateway for investment banking activities in the Americas.

“The opportunity to gain such a comprehensive overview of the company’s operations and the industry was valuable and eye-opening,” she affirms.

Even when students from both trips visited the same financial institutions, the takeaways differed depending on the group’s regional focus.

For example, students who visited HSBC in New York were treated to insights on how the bank is leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) for the future.

At the same time, those in Hong Kong heard about the equity trading sphere in the country and the latest trends in the market of High Net Worth (HNW) clients.

At BNP Paribas’ New York branch, students networked with the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) team, while those in Hong Kong attended presentations on the bank’s sustainability initiatives.

Building Networks for the Future

Besides gaining insights into finance sector trends in different countries, students could also understand more about the roles they may take on in the future through conversations with industry professionals.

Gregoire Bonneval, who hopes to start a career in M&A, particularly appreciated meeting young professionals from the BNP Paribas M&A team.

“It was an excellent opportunity for us to gain a perspective on how those like us have found career success and view the finance environment,” he declares.

Daqian Wu, from the Hong Kong trip, had a similar experience. “I enjoyed speaking to senior and junior traders and learning more about the equities trading landscape from HSBC,” he says, noting that their insights built on his existing knowledge from the MiF financial markets track to help him clarify his future.

“I am glad I learned much about finance and connected with amazing alumni and professionals. I look forward to being able to share my experiences when networking with others in the future,” he concludes.