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Profiles of Individual Alumnus

You would have to go some distance to find a professional more devoted to the art and science of risk management than Andries Terblanché. Past Chair of Financial Services and Senior Partner for KPMG in Australia, the 50-year-old South Africa native has a restless mind, and his approach to his subject is both cerebral and proactive.


Those attributes motivated Andries – though already armed with a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate in commerce – to seek out HKUST-NYU Stern’s Master of Science in Global Finance program. Explains Andries: “As a practitioner of finance I became increasingly concerned with the frequency and severity of global economic crises and traditional risk tools’ shortcomings in detecting these crises ex ante. This program offered me an opportunity to engage in formal studies at two leading universities that provided different perspectives due to their locations: one in the heart of the developed financial economy, and the other in the most rapidly developing region in finance.”


He continues: “Stern has a globally recognized reputation in finance, economics, and academic (but practical) research. It was this interplay between quality of research and academic rigor on one hand, and the need for it to be practical, on the other, that appealed to me.”


According to Andries, the reality of the program exceeded even his high hopes. “Through the breadth of the 10 modules, we were always going to cover substantial ground, but we did so in surprising depth. We dived deeper, and in more detail than I expected, and the rigor was noticed by all. To have gone to this level of depth, across many topics which are of direct relevance, puts one at an advantage when you go back to the office.”  The faculty, he adds, were “senior, practical, and very knowledgeable.”


On the ground

Andries’ on-the-ground experience included a cohort that raised the level at every turn.  “Our class encompassed a diverse range of countries, businesses, and, to a large degree, demographics,” he says. “On its own it added much to discussions and analyses in the classroom. My classmates were smart, competitive, eager to learn, ambitious, and at the same time approachable and cordial. It made for an extremely productive learning environment.”


The academic content was immediately useful. In fact, Andries considers that relevance is one of the strongest attributes of the MSGF program. Even now, he says, “I use many aspects of the program directly in my daily activities. These range from risk management through to derivatives and valuations. When I engage in debates on technical matters, I draw on the learning from the program.”


Undertaking the MSGF is not without its challenges, however, points out Andries, who is married with two active teenage sons. “It is not easy to return to formal studies when you have parental, marriage, and corporate commitments. It took me a while to get the mathematical skills up to speed, the results of which still benefit me. Whatever these challenges were, and they loomed fairly large at the time of undertaking the studies, the subsequent payoffs exceed the sacrifices.”


Those payoffs, Andries adds, include the ability to make a stronger contribution at his firm “in a manner that is observable to other partners and staff, who comment on the value that I bring to problem sets and corporate challenges.”


Such enhanced value has in turn helped accelerate the initiative Andries has been leading at KPMG for the past five years: conducting research into why it is that traditional risk identification and management tools suffer consistent failure in identifying macroeconomic disruptions. “At KPMG we are very close to solving this challenge for the benefit of our clients,” Andries asserts. “I want to leave this world a better place than what I found it, and one of those methods in the corporate realm is through improvements to our predictive financial risk management practices.”