Investment Banking to Entrepreneurship: Meet Liran

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Liran Amrany is the founder and CEO of Debitize, a personal finance application that helps consumers use credit cards responsibly.  Debitize automatically helps  customers set aside funds to cover every purchase while still allowing them to access the benefits of credit card use.

In 2002, Liran received dual Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Genetics from UC Berkeley and subsequently joined the Berkeley Master of Financial Engineering program in 2003.

Liran graduated from the MFE program at the top of his 60-person class and was hired at JP Morgan shortly thereafter. Starting when he was just 24 years old, Liran spent nine years there developing, marketing, and structuring fixed income derivative products and was eventually named Executive Director of Derivatives Marketing.

After many years on that side of the financial industry, Liran decided to flex his own entrepreneurial skills and envisioned an app that launched early 2016.

“The structuring and problem-solving skills I learned in the MFE program helped me to develop a new financial product that solves a critical market need while adhering to legal, regulatory, and compliance guidelines,” says Amrany.

 

IIT to the Berkeley MFE to Morgan Stanley New York

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After obtaining her master’s degree in mathematics from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Charu Arora, MFE class of 2014, began working at a large bank with their equity derivatives desk. Over time, she realized that although she had a strong quantitative background, her knowledge of quantitative finance and various asset classes was limited. She determined a further degree in quantitative finance would help drive her career in the right direction, and so she applied to the Berkeley MFE program.

“The MFE program at Berkeley is strenuous, but it is also an exhilarating experience. Each day brought new challenges and prepared me to solve practical problems faced by the industry,” said Charu. “The faculty’s focus on questioning the status quo was an integral part of my experience. It not only refined the way I have approached problems, but has had an everlasting impact on my work ethic.”

Charu said that the MFE program provided her with a comprehensive knowledge of finance. The various asset classes and financial theories prepared her to succeed in the workforce and adapt to any finance role she would have accepted in the industry.

Charu’s proudest moment in the program was representing the university at the International Association for Quantitative Finance (IAQF) competition and winning. She worked in a team of six students and presented their analysis on the cause of AIG’s failure in 2008. She found that this was a great opportunity to not only test her application of financial understanding but also form strong bonds with her fellow classmates.

Currently Charu is working as a strategist with the Securities Product Group – Commercial Real Estate Lending Team at Morgan Stanley in New York. She works closely with asset managers and traders on the pricing methodologies and hedging strategies.

“It’s been more than two years since I completed the Berkeley MFE program, but through the tight-knit alumni network, my tie to the program has kept on strengthening. I am proud to be a part of the reputed Berkeley community.”

Learn more about the Berkeley MFE Program here.

Caltech Ph.D. to Berkeley MFE to NYC: Meet Yiran

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Yiran Ma completed her Ph.D. in Geophysics with a minor in Computational Science and Engineering from Caltech in December of 2015. Her research focused primarily on imaging Earth’s interior structure using seismic recordings, which led to five first-authored papers published in top geophysical journals.

When Yiran signed up for an information session about the Berkeley MFE in February of 2015, she quickly realized that the program was exactly what she was looking for; she was ready to pursue a career in quantitative finance, and the MFE was going to help her accomplish that.

While Yiran has been in the program since last March only, she feels that she has already developed a solid understanding of finance and strengthened her data analytics and modelling skills. As part of the practical training required of the MFE students, Yiran will participate in a fall internship as a Desk Strategist at Morgan Stanley in New York. She is also currently working with a team of five other students on an industry project from Citigroup. She will complete her studies on March 17, 2017.

“The systematic training I have received in the Berkeley MFE Program has shaped my understanding of finance. With unparalleled faculty, classmates and one of the kind employment opportunities, I am confident that this year’s learning experience will have a long-lasting impact on my professional life.”

Meet more current Berkeley MFE students here.

New York bound for their Internship at BNP Paribas

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From left to right: Adam Plantinga, Qiuyi Chen, Stephanus Coetzee, and Philippe Tann

The MFE Program continues to place its students in key internship positions in New York, a favorite location of our students. We are proud to announce that four of the students in the MFE class of 2017 will be interning next fall at BNP Paribas in New York. The investment bank has been a loyal recruiter of our students, a testament to the strong caliber of our MFE17 class. After completing a challenging second term students Philippe Tann, Qiuyi (Claire) Chen, Adam Plantinga, and Stephanus Coetzee look forward to relocating from coast to coast and beginning their work at BNP Paribas.

Our students’ backgrounds are impressive. Adam Plantinga graduated from Stellenbosch University in South Africa with an Honours degree in Actuarial Science. After gaining two years of work experience as a management consultant at Bain & Company, Adam joined the 2017 MFE graduating class. For his internship, he will be joining BNP Paribas New York in structured credit sales. There, Adam will be developing investment ideas, selling and cross-selling products, and representing the bank on important business issues. Adam came to the program to transition from consulting to a front office position at an investment bank.  “If I was still working in South Africa and sent off my resume to BNP Paribas it would be very difficult to get an internship,” said Adam. “The Berkeley MFE made this transition possible for me.” Before Adam goes to New York, he is planning a backpacking trip through Yosemite.

Stephanus Coetzee came to us from South Africa too. He graduated from the University of Cape Town with a degree in Business Science specializing in Actuarial Science. He has just accepted an internship from BNP Paribas in New York in credit structuring. He will be helping in the structuring of complex products and transactions, supporting market efforts, conducting market analysis, and assisting in transaction execution, as well as creation and maintenance of cash flow and pricing models. “The Berkeley MFE is the best way to get into a finance career” said Stephanus. “Not only is there an extensive alumni network, but the program guarantees the necessary practical application knowledge to perform well in the financial field. I could not be more pleased with what this program has given me so far.”

For her part, MFE student Claire Chen received a Bachelor of Science and Business Administration in 2013 from the National University of Singapore. She then gained two and a half years of work experience in market risk management at Goldman Sachs before joining the Berkeley MFE.  For her internship, Claire will travel to New York to work in FX and interest rate structuring at BNP Paribas. “The Berkeley MFE courses are intense but rewarding. We have learned a lot,” said Claire. After completing a challenging second term, Clair and a group of other MFE students are going to explore Yellowstone.

French-born Philippe Tann came to the Berkeley MFE program with four years of experience in risk management. He received his master’s degree in Applied Mathematics with a concentration in finance from Ecole Centrale Paris, but applied to the program in an effort to transition from the insurance industry to the investment banking field. He will join BNP Paribas in New York for an internship on their credit trading desk. Philippe has worked on a Citi industry project on sector optimization in risk premium as part of an elective course and is currently finalizing an industry project at BlackRock. “This second term of the program was intense. However, the material has taught us to go beyond the scope of the class and has given me strategies and intuition that will be necessary to outperform in my internship.”

Learn more about the Berkeley MFE Program here. 

 

Fixed Income Trading in New York City: Meet Rodrigo

Nunez_Lago_Rodrigo_001-095482-editedBefore coming to the Berkeley MFE, Rodrigo Nunez held Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Actuarial Science from ITAM, a top university in Mexico.

After working for a few years in Mexico City at Deutsche Bank and ING as a derivatives trader, Rodrigo joined the Berkeley MFE class of 2009 to deepen his skillset and gain a deeper understanding of the financial models underpinning the markets.  During the program, he was placed in an internship with the Latin America Group for Barclays Global Investors in San Francisco and post-program, he accepted a full-time position with BGI (which was later acquired by BlackRock).

The Berkeley MFE program didn’t only help Rodrigo land his first position.  In 2010, he accepted a position as Vice President at BNP Paribas in New York City, where he now holds a Director position in Fixed Income Trading.

Learn more about the Berkeley MFE here.

“The Berkeley MFE exceeded my expectations, not only for its full placement of students in internships but also for its commitment to full-time job placement and personal involvement with each and every one of the students. The Berkeley MFE is the best investment I have made so far.” — Rodrigo Nunez Lagos, MFE class of 2009

Learn how the MFE helped Aude transition from ENSAE to NYC

Haas-MFE_Portraits-2012-LR_033-910787-editedAude Barthelemy received her Master’s Degree in Applied Math, Statistics & Economics from ENSAE ParisTech, a top university in France.

After interning at HSBC in Paris as an Equity Derivatives Structurer, Aude applied for the Berkeley MFE and joined the 2012-13 class. During the program’s fall internship period, she worked as an intern at Citi on the CVA Quantitative Analysis team.

Aude graduated from the MFE program in March 2013 and was the valedictorian of her graduating class.  After graduating, the MFE program helped her to land a full-time position at Goldman Sachs in New York City, where she is currently a Vice President in the Derivatives Analysis team.

Learn more about the MFE program at mfe.berkeley.edu.  For information on placement, you can view our placement reports.

 “The Berkeley MFE Program helped us develop strong quantitative skills, but what made the program unique was the preparation for interviews and the 3-month internship in the fall. It allowed us to apply the skills and tools that we learned during the first part of the program.” — Aude Barthelemy, MFE class of 2013

Admissions FAQ: Making changes to the application

How do I make a change or addition to my application once it has been submitted?

If you find an error or wish to make a change or submit additional information to your already submitted application, please notify us of the changes via email to mfe@haas.berkeley.edu.  Please be sure to include your full name and your application login ID in the email.

If you have materials that need to be mailed to us, such as transcripts or test scores, you can mail them to us via post at the address below.

Admissions
Master of Financial Engineering Program
University of California, Berkeley
S545 Haas School of Business, #1900
Berkeley, CA 94720-1900

Can I change or add recommenders after I have submitted my application?

Yes. If you wish to change or add a recommender after you have submitted your application, you can do it in one of two ways.

  1.  Send an email to mfe@haas.berkeley.edu  and include your name, your login ID, and the information you wish to add.  If you wish to delete a recommender, please include that information as well.
  2. Alternatively, you can send any additional recommenders our recommendation form (available within the application instructions) and have that person fill it out and send it to us via mail or email.

MFE Alumni: Meet Rajat

rajatRajat Agarwal came to the Berkeley MFE after receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and then working as a senior analyst in the fixed income group at Deutsche Bank in Mumbai.

A deep curiosity about the quantitative aspects of financial markets drove Rajat to begin learning about finance on his own, both through taking coursework in subjects such as financial mathematics and through preparing for and taking the CFA level 1 and level 2 exams.  He then realized that he wanted to continue to develop his skillset and saw the Berkeley MFE as a natural way to leverage his education and the experience he had gained at Deutsche to take the next step in his learning and professional growth.  The program’s  intensive curriculum, which focuses on rate and equity derivatives, corporate financing, structured products, and macroeconomics, and the highly-renowned placement program prepared Rajat well for his next step: a career at Goldman Sachs in New York City.

Since graduating in 2011, Rajat has worked at Goldman Sachs, where he is now a Vice President in the Investment Banking group.  He credits the MFE program at Berkeley for giving him the knowledge and connections he needed to take his career to the next level.

“What I knew about finance I mostly studied on my own and learned on the job at Deutsche Bank in Mumbai. While I had strong math and analytical skills, I knew I needed more expertise in finance to take my career to the next level. Friends and colleagues recommended the Berkeley MFE program. They were right — it was the perfect fit.” — Rajat Agarwal, MFE class of 2011

Admissions Questions: What if I haven’t completed all of the prerequisites? Can I still apply?

Students who have completed most, but not all of the prerequisite courses are encouraged to apply as long as they have a plan in place to complete the courses prior to the start of the MFE program to which they are applying. In fact, there is a question in the application that asks which courses the applicant plans to take prior to the MFE; this would be an appropriate place to list the plan of study.

The admissions committee will take your preparation plan into consideration when reviewing your file and if you are admitted, will track your progress through your preparation plan.

MFE Alumni: Meet Chad

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Chad Wildman completed a Ph.D. in Mathematics with a focus on nonlinear partial differential equations at UC San Diego, but he wasn’t quite finished with his studies yet.

Looking to pursue a career in finance, he applied for the Berkeley Master of Financial Engineering program in order to integrate his background in theoretical mathematics with his drive to explore quantitative finance concepts in greater depth.

Chad joined the MFE program in Spring 2014 and was able to launch his career by participating in two programs designed to expose MFE students to real-world problems: an Independent Study project with a hedge fund and an internship in New York with Morgan Stanley.

Directly after graduating in 2015, Chad accepted a full-time position in Morgan Stanley’s Strats and Modeling Team in New York City as a Desk Strategist.

“The Berkeley MFE is ideal for turning a strong quantitative background into a quantitative finance skillset applicable for the most challenging and exciting parts of the industry.” -Chad Wildman, MFE Class of 2015