How time flies. This is post no. 208, which makes it the 4th birthday for this weekly blog. This is a time for celebrations and reflections. Today's story is about my studies in the Singapore Management University (SMU)'s Masters in Applied Finance (MAF) programme.
I enrolled in the programme in Jul 2004. The stock market had just recovered from a 3-year slump due to the dot.com crash in 2000, Sep 11 terrorist attack in 2001, accounting scandals in 2002 and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003. After a prolonged slump, the market staged a strong recovery in 2004 and I made my first (small) pot of gold. I decided to reinvest the profits, not in stocks, but in a formal education in investment. Through good fortune, I heard of the MAF programme in SMU and decided to enrol in it in Jul 2004.
The MAF programme catered to professionals who wanted to advance in their careers in the finance industry as well as people who were looking to make a career switch into the industry. Thus, it took in graduates who were trained in other disciplines. However, being the introvert I am, I had totally no idea what the intent of the programme was all about, nor the hot prospects of jobs in the finance industry then. I was not even aware of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) programme! I was simply happy to be accepted into the programme even though my basic degree is in engineering. It was only after I enrolled into the programme and met my new classmates, some of whom were planning to switch into the finance industry, did I realise what the programme was all about. At one stage, I wondered whether I had deprived anyone with the intention to switch of a place in the programme. Anyway, by then, it was too late. So, I continued my studies.
Frankly speaking, studying for the purpose of gaining knowledge instead of getting good grades is a joy. I enjoyed the lessons and the projects despite having to rush to class from work every Tue and Thu, besides spending the whole of Sat in classes. How could projects be boring if they were on analysis of companies such as Informatics, CK Tang, SIA, etc., since whatever insights we gathered for the projects could be useful for our own investments? Besides, the American education system that SMU adopted encouraged lively exchanges of ideas instead of just copying notes from the lecturer. I even had the curiosity to read up the "Greeks" (i.e. Black-Scholes model for options) outside of the classes! When we were about to graduate 1.5 years later, I felt a sense of loss. Never had I enjoyed classes so much in my life!
After I graduated, I applied for a few jobs in the finance industry, but I was not accepted, partly also because I was over 30 years old by then. Nevertheless, I did not feel too dejected, since my intention of enrolling in the programme was to gain knowledge rather than studying for grades.
A couple of years later, in 2012, I started this blog to share my knowledge and experience about investing. I believe I have a unique combination to offer to readers -- someone who is old enough to have 30+ years of experience in the stock market and has witnessed many stock market crashes but still young enough to blog and share knowledge. Furthermore, that practical experience is complemented by academic knowledge from the MAF and CFA programmes.
It is 4.5 years since I started blogging and 4 x 52 posts later, I believe I have established a useful resource for readers who wish to learn more about investing. What I have shared in this blog has sometimes gone beyond what is found in books. While I did not contribute back to society through working in the finance industry, through this blog, I am returning to society what I have gained from SMU. I like to say that I did not let my alma mater down. Thank you, SMU, for giving me a wonderful education in investment. Last, but not least, thank you readers who have encouraged me to continue writing through your visits to this blog.
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