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After Interning in Asset Management, Qin Liu Discovered Enterprise Risk Management Was the Crown Jewel of Finance

Qin Liu started her career as a securities broker at J.P. Morgan Chase. After joining Columbia University’s Enterprise Risk Management program, she interned in asset management and quantitative analytics. From these experiences, she discovered her passion was combining ERM and fintech to power asset management. “Despite being in the center of the 2008 crisis, BlackRock became the savior of the system, then the world’s largest asset manager after two decades by placing Enterprise Risk Management at the core.” 

What led you to Columbia's ERM program?

Program Director Sim Segal is a specialist of ERM globally, former Chairman of the Risk Committee of the Society of Actuaries, and the author of the book Corporate Value of Enterprise Risk Management. With 30+ years of focus on risk management, Segal’s leadership is unseen in other ERM programs.  

With extensive courses and excellent faculty, Columbia’s Enterprise Risk Management program offers cutting-edge insights on risk management (including non-financial risks), quantitative analysis, and fintech applications. Columbia is one of the institutions that have the largest number of Nobel Prize winners and has been rated as having the most impact on upper-tail income mobility—enabling both academic and career success.

I applied ERM in asset management. All of my recommendations have done very well.

What attracted you to ERM specifically?

After recovering from a big loss to become the emperor of Wall Street, Larry Fink, the founder of BlackRock, best illustrates the impact of ERM to me. In 1983, Fink was one of the first to invent collateralized mortgage obligations when he was working at First Boston. This invention brought large profits, but it was difficult to hedge the interest rate risk, and his group lost $100 million in the second quarter of 1986. However, like the birth of the sun, the world’s largest asset management firm was born in 1988 as Fink was inspired to incorporate comprehensive ERM and build the powerful risk management platform Aladdin. 

Because of Fink’s success in risk management and in the bond market, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson asked BlackRock to manage the $700 billion bank bailout during the 2008 crisis. The buy-side firm entered the spotlight and then became the world’s largest asset manager in 2009. 

BlackRock has been providing advice to the government ever since. Before COVID-19, the company determined strategies on dealing with the next downturn and forecasted high inflation as an outcome. Knowing the risks were addressed beforehand boosted market confidence. 

Therefore, ERM is very empowering as it enhances forecasting, so firms can view things from a great distance to turn adversity into success, and it enables risk-taking, so firms can operate on the risk reward equilibrium to achieve rapid growth and sustainability.

The triumph of Blackrock reminded me of this quote: ”When it rains, the eagle is the only bird that doesn’t head for shelter, but flies above the clouds.” I want to help companies turn adversity into success and propel them through any type of economic weather with the techniques of Enterprise Risk Management.

Did you enjoy learning from any faculty members in particular? 

Our director Sim Segal. He is like a lighthouse that guides me in my learning journey. Before I applied to the program, he gave us excellent advice at the information session, and he has remained approachable and supportive ever since. In his class, he taught us wisdom beyond risk management--to not see risk as only good or bad, because risk has both upside and downside potentials; instead, see challenges as opportunities and redefine them into success. 

What was your favorite course?

Financial Risk Management. This course is one of the most difficult classes in the program, but the content is highly applicable and critical to asset management. Lecturer Justin Hon taught the class with strong logic and real-time news examples, and with a great teaching style, he made concepts clear and intellectually stimulating. The class equipped us with in-depth understanding of asset classes, risk types, and quantitative analysis methods. (Previewing CFA before taking ERM would be very helpful.)

Are you applying what you have learned at Columbia in your career?

I used what I learned to analyze investments at my internships and personal ventures. I applied quantitative analysis on risk measurement, portfolio optimization, and valuation, and then used Python to automate the processes and develop quantitative strategies.

How would you rate Columbia’s ERM program and its value to you?

Columbia’s ERM has built my expertise and authority. By showing me the mentality of a risk manager, the program unlocked infinite potential and has been life-changing for me. I applied ERM in asset management, and all of my recommendations have done very well. I recommended Tesla and Nvidia at my internship, and both stock prices have doubled or tripled following my recommendations. All of these have brought us considerable profits, and the sense of realizing my true potential while at the same time being able to help others is invaluable.  

Learn more about Columbia University’s Enterprise Risk Management program.