From Fiction to Finance

By SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business Social Media Team

The seemingly disparate passions for reading and finance from a young age paved the way for Associate Professor Fu Fangjian’s journey in academia.

When he was a child, the Associate Professor of Finance at Singapore Management University’s (SMU) Lee Kong Chian School of Business (LKCSB) recalls that he aspired to be a librarian so he could read all the books he wanted. He has since progressed from being a big fan of fiction books to books about business, history and politics, today.

“I enjoy reading and thinking… Being a professor is perfect for me because it allows me to indulge my love of reading, thinking, creating as well as imparting knowledge to the next generation at the same time,” says Assoc Prof Fu.

He explains that the programmes in SMU are engineered to push students to apply knowledge to real-world industry practices. Students are encouraged to identify real problems in industries and use the theories picked up in the classroom to analyse and solve them.

This works well particularly in the Part-Time Masters Programme, where he has observed students, who generally worked in various industries for a few years, to be “more mature, and often more inquisitive about applying classroom knowledge to real industry practices”.

Assoc Prof Fu graduated with a bachelor’s in Economics from Peking University in Beijing in 1997, before coming to Singapore to pursue a masters in Finance at the National University of Singapore in 2001. He later ventured to the United States, this time to the University of Rochester, New York, for a PhD in Finance.

Now, not only is he a full-time faculty member at LKCSB, he is also the Academic Director of the Global Master of Finance dual degree programme (Washington University in St Louis), the Academic Director of the Part-time Master of Science in Applied Finance Programme, as well as the Finance Recruiting Chair.

As someone who observes and does research about the finance industry, living in leading financial cities like New York, Beijing and now Singapore has been quite the ideal experience for Fu Fangjian.

“Living in these cities, I saw first-hand how critical finance is in allocating resources and lubricating the economy. The economic cycles and the crises reminded me that finance should primarily work to serve the real economy in a positive manner, and how detrimental it could be if this goal is forgotten.”

Assoc Prof Fu’s research interests include empirical asset pricing and corporate finance. His research works were published in top finance and management journals such as Journal of Financial Economics and Management Science, presented at top international conferences and even won several best paper awards. Most recently, his research about corporate share buyback was featured in the Wall Street Journal.

“When I graduated with my PhD in Finance, I received a lucrative offer from a prestigious capital management firm in San Francisco. But I wanted to be a professor where there is the opportunity to teach and interact with young students, as I enjoy seeing my students grow in knowledge and mentality,” says Assoc Prof Fu.

At the end of the day, it’s all in line with the one important lesson he wishes to impart to every one of his students—to find for themselves a career that they have a great passion for. “Do what you like, not just what others like, or what pays the highest salary. What makes a person walk far and excel is doing what he or she loves. Start small, but always dream big,” he says.


This article was originally published in the LKCBS Community.