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Accountancy / Finance - LSE MSc Finance: Personal Statement

ronnyliu 1 / 1  
Dec 18, 2012   #1
Dear all,

I have applied for the Msc in Finance for the LSE, and have to write a personal statement.

A personal statement that describes your academic interests and your purpose and objectives in undertaking graduate study. If you are applying for a master's or diploma programme this is your opportunity to introduce yourself to the selectors. Please describe your academic background, strengths/interests, ambitions/research interests. Your statement should be typed, and should cover 2-3 sides of A4 paper. There is no fixed word limit.

Please give me some advice on grammar, structure, style, etc. Thanks!

My name is Liu Chun Long. I was brought up in an indigenous traditional family in a rural village, away from city area, in Hong Kong. I am the first of my family of two children so I was able to learn independently starting from primary school. Mixture between traditional Chinese culture in my family and western culture in the city area of Hong Kong fully equip me to become an all-rounded person with excellent interpersonal skills. In addition, Hong Kong, as an international financial centre, allows me to acquire comprehensive knowledge regarding financial market through different ways.

We are now living under the status quo of a fast changing world with turbulent financial markets that different parts of them are correlated with each other resulted by globalization. The recent financial crisis and the global geo-political situation have brought critical challenges which require us to have a deeper understanding for the changing dynamics of finance markets. This backdrop provides me a motivation to pursue a master degree in order to consolidate my knowledge and skills, and tackle future challenges when I finally step into the finance industry.

My passion in finance started when I was still in high school, the time when financial crisis devastated the world because of Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy. At that time in Hong Kong, most of the news was about the huge losses suffered by investors who invested in Minibond, a financial security controlled by Lehman Brothers. I was surprised that a bank's bankruptcy would possibly result in one of the largest financial crises in all time but I did not have sufficient knowledge to understand the underlying reason. Conspicuously, this experience fostered my early sense of the financial market and prompted my decision in further studying finance in university.

I chose to major in Accountancy and minor in Finance at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. This major program combines accounting and finance subjects together so that I do not only learn accounting knowledge to analyse financial statements in critical ways but also enrich investment and risk controlling knowledge through finance courses. I intentionally choose Accountancy as my major because I believe that finance is not only about finance, but also includes knowledge in accounting, management and so on. From studying various fields in university, I have gained thorough understanding in different aspects that enabled me to analyse financial market comprehensively in different angles. I particular interest in subjects such as management of financial institutions where I learnt different risk faced by banks and derivative securities where I obtained mathematical knowledge in pricing derivatives and constructing different strategies. Those courses guided me to explore the beauty of finance industry and I strived to acquire the soundest knowledge from them.

As rewards for efforts spent in my study, I was named in Dean's List in 2011 for academic excellence along with a scholarship. Most memorably, I was honour to be a personal assistant of Dr. Jacob Frenkel, Chairman of JPMorgan Chase International, at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University 75th Anniversary Conference: Stabilizing the World Economy. During the conference, I have precious chances to interact with him, other guests and scholars, especially with Professor Robert Mundell, Nobel Laureate in Economics. His views in development of exchange rate in the future inspire me as well as Dr. Frenkel's views in explaining relationship between demographic trend and economic development do. Throughout the interaction with them, it improved my understanding in finance in terms of width and depth. Besides, I enjoyed communicating with people with diverse culture background because it not only strengthens my analytical and numerical capabilities but also further stimulates my enthusiasm and adaptability in financial industry, by immersing myself to alternative ways of thinking and approaches to analyse problems.

To fully utilize knowledge and skills learnt in university into practice, I worked in PricewaterhouseCoopers and Hong Kong Inland Revenue Department as an intern. In my first three-month internship in an audit firm, through performing various types of tasks in different engagements, I gained insights into relationship among clients' business models, industry conditions and capital structure. It helped me to understand corporate finance in a broader and deeper way. Furthermore, I was able to apply my accounting knowledge to analyse relationship among items in financial statements and summarize my findings in a structured way, from which I also learnt about the detailed information of financial products like options and swaps in real life situation. Moreover, I had to study at night during the internship period that my time management skill was greatly improved by allocating time between study and work seamlessly. Besides, since audit engagements are usually project-oriented, this internship further strength my teamwork skill which is essentially important in my future studies and also my future career.

Three months after the first internship, I joined Inland Revenue Department for three months and worked in a department which handles salaries tax cases. Taking the opportunity of communicating with taxpayers, my interpersonal skill was enhanced when I was handling taxpayers' enquiries. Since taxpayers in Hong Kong need not be a Chinese, I also had chances to talk with people with diverse culture in different languages. Additionally, I got far more familiar with taxation knowledge, which could act as a supplement of my knowledge base, since I prepared tax assessments and provided support to colleagues in dealing with exemption claims and double taxation issues. I do think these internships were fruitful and believe that they aid me to prepare best for further study in the MSc program of London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) by improving and enhancing not only my technical skills, but also soft skills.

Besides internships, I have also participated business competitions which I reckon as inspiring and effective to enrich my knowledge. In November 2012, I and another teammate competed in Inter-Collegiate Business Competition 2013. It was a worthy experience because we endeavoured to analyse monetisation problems faced by Twitter, an online social networking service, propose plausible solutions and construct an elaborate plan for implementing. More importantly, this competition gave me some insights into business valuation and sharpened my business acumen.

After considering my interest and past experience cautiously, I would like to further explore career opportunities in asset management. I believe that it is a challenging role which covers in-depth finance knowledge thoroughly including investment sciences and risk management. It requires superior capabilities that I consider one year further learning will be an essential and significant preparation for a competing and demanding career. Specifically, I believe MSc Finance Program of LSE suits me the most. Courses of LSE are recognized as well designed and would offer me sound and all-round understanding on a wider range of topics regard to finance while caters to my interests. I am very much interested in Applied Financial Valuation which further strengthens my valuation techniques particular in mergers and divestitures, and Risk Management for Financial Institutions from which I would learn specific frameworks in identifying risks within financial institutions. Therefore I am convinced that learning in LSE would support my future career greatly.

Besides high quality education provided by LSE, the international learning environment in which I can develop and think independently is also fascinating. As a prestigious academic institution, LSE attracts talented people with strong passion in finance around the world to study, and share diverse knowledge, values and experiences with likeminded individuals. Also, multi-cultural communications with those people make me exciting because we have opportunities to share alternative ways of thinking from each other. With sole experience of studying in Hong Kong, I would like to explore more outside Hong Kong, especially London, another financial centre in the world. No better way to improve myself all-rounded than to immerse myself in the international community in which I can reinforce my interpersonal skills. I am certain that my traditional Chinese culture and my fruitful life experience would contribute to the thriving multicultural student community at LSE.

I appreciate you taking the time to consider my application and I hope that the information I have shared has demonstrated my academic ability, professional objectives and my enthusiasm to be an MSc student of LSE.
admission2012 - / 478 90  
Dec 18, 2012   #2

While this is a decent SOP, what you have written here is exactly what LSE does NOT want from it's Msc in finance applicants. LSE's MSc in Finance, at least the full-time program, is different than most Msc in finance at other schools in that it is geared towards students of the Arts and sciences that for one reason or another have found that a theory/applied education in finance will serve them well in the future. As it stands right now, your SOP will almost certainly disqualify you for admissions. What you have done in this essay, is exactly what many MBA applicants do which is somehow hope for a career in the "front-office" of some bank. Your SOP needs to focus on generalizing your past(not be too financially related) while building an "outside" trajectory for your future. -AAO

Hope this helps.
OP ronnyliu 1 / 1  
Dec 19, 2012   #3
Thanks for your great advice.

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