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Life in academic finance

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

We only live one life, so seeing matters from perspectives other than your own can be challenging. This is an important limitation for individuals because people before you, around you, and after you so often hold information that you wish to have. This observation is the primary reason why I write this blog: Information sharing creates value for others and can sometimes even save lives. If I do not share what is to come in this blog, they will be lost, and people will need to rediscover all those. From this blog:

  1. Fellow students and colleagues can learn what experiences to expect and also get some idea of how to handle different situations.

  2. Senior scholars can find out what experiences a junior scholar today would encounter, so as to get a “bottom-up” perspective on what is happening to the profession.

This blog will be about both facts and opinions. I will try to make it clear which are facts and which are opinions. The facts are what has actually happened. The opinions are my contemplation on the root of these facts, my evaluation of the facts, and, in some cases, my thoughts on how to react to these them.

To understand my perspective, readers would benefit from knowing about my "preference." What has led me to academic finance? I will write a more detailed post on this topic in the future. I list three primary reasons here:

First, I am genuinely interested in how the world works. If I had not come to finance, I would have gone to study physics, computer science, or math. This world is so wonderfully complex on the surface and beautifully simple once you understand. I want to really understand, and I do find myself getting there thanks to this profession.

Second, I think the professional objectives in academic finance is useful to others. Some would prefer to use more emotionally charged terms such as noble, respectful, honorable, create lasting value, to praise this profession. I use the word “useful” to try to stay with an objective tone. Compared to physics, which studies the natural world (e.g., what are the things and what are the relations between things), economics studies how human beings work as individuals and how they interact at various levels. The research output in economics is often directly relevant, here and now. Math and physics are also useful, but perhaps less immediately so. Computer science is also useful, but it is more about providing tools, while economics is more about using the tools to solve problems.

Third, academic life in finance provides a type of freedom that appeals to me. I pursue this career primarily for my “desire” or “a sense of calling.” In other academic areas, research depends heavily on funding availability, while in finance, much of the research I am interested in can be self-funded. I value the intellectual freedom from a reliance on outside funding because only with such can I contemplate questions that (I think) people have yet to figure out their importance.

If you hold a similar value as mine, you will find this blog to be quite useful in terms of straightening your expectations. You will save yourself some time, some trouble, and some suffering in the adaptation from idealistic to the realistic.

This blog will be updated irregularly, but roughly about once or twice per month. Let's chat more in the next article.

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