Yan Wang always knew she wanted to work in the financial capital of the world. When she graduated from Wuhan University with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 2023, she explored graduate-level business programs in New York City.  

Fordham’s high placement in the QuantNet Ranking of Best Financial Engineering Programs caught her eye, and so in August 2023, she enrolled in the Gabelli School of Business MS program in quantitative finance.

“I love financial markets. I think they’re really beautiful. The uncertainty in them is really charming,” said Wang, a native of Xiaogan, China.

Quantitative finance involves the use of mathematical models and extremely large datasets to analyze financial markets and securities. Practitioners need to be fluent in both computer programming, such as C++, and advanced math, such as stochastic calculus

It is traditionally a male-dominated field; nearly 80% of quantitative analysts are men. In fact, when Wang enrolled at the Gabelli School, she was one of only two women in her program.  This was a surprise to her, as her undergraduate classes were more evenly divided. But she was undeterred.

“I thought, ‘It doesn’t matter, women or men, we are just working on the same thing,’” she said. 

“Others might think, ‘This program is too difficult for a girl,’ but I love mathematics, I love finance, and this program is perfect for me.”

Wang is drawn to the fact that in the financial markets, profit is derived from uncertainty and that uncertainty brings a lot of different possibilities. 

“You can apply all your knowledge to the market, and you can see whether it works well; if it doesn’t, then you’ll know you need to learn something new that can fit well for this market,” she said.

“That’s where the beauty comes from.”

Wuhan boasts a population of 11 million people, so the transition to New York City wasn’t too difficult. Wang said she was able to quickly make friends with other Gabelli School master’s students from China; she recently visited the National Museum of Mathematics in Lower Manhattan with one of them.

Coursework Is Good Prep for Internship Interview

Wang says a course on derivatives was especially helpful because she learned how to evaluate and price options and futures.”

“The class sparked my interest in derivatives and really laid a solid foundation for a career in derivatives pricing in the future,” she said.

This summer, she’ll be a quantitative research intern at startup hedge fund SIMO Capital. She expects to graduate in May 2025 and hopes to find a job in the United States, ideally as a “desk quant” whose job is to implement pricing models and hedge the risks.

Qing Sheng, Ph.D., the director of the quantitative finance program, taught Wang in the class financial markets. She said math skills like Wang’s have taken on even more importance of late, as many other aspects of business can be delegated to AI tools.

“Having the math will set you apart from your peers. It’s not one of those things that ChatGPT can just figure out for you,” she said.

Sheng said she’s been encouraged by Wang’s willingness to contribute more to discussions in class.

“We had some conversations when she first started because she was pretty reserved, and I know her background. She had a lot more to give,” she said.

“You could literally see that she was talking herself into saying, ‘I’m going to ask questions, even if they may sound stupid.’ That’s very good for a female student to say, ‘I am going to take risks and not worry too much about how other people think about me.’”


Patrick Verel can be reached at Verel@fordham.edu or (212) 636-7790.