A Hong Kong native, Terence K.M. "Terry" Liang, spent his high school and university years in Canada. He started his career in Toronto, as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Young. In 1993, he altered his career path and returned home to join what is now HSBC Global Banking. In 1996, he was lured away to work for a US investment bank, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ), spending three years with DLJ in Hong Kong, London, and New York, acquiring solid experience in M&A and corporate finance.
Before DLJ was acquired by Credit Suisse in 2000, Terry returned to HSBC in Hong Kong – this time, it appears, for good. "New York is very dynamic and unique, and I wouldn't trade that experience," he says. But he wanted the broader, long-term Asian exposure he felt he could get at HSBC. In 2004, HSBC Private Bank asked him to start up a team to act as a bridge between Global Banking's corporate finance divisions and the Global Private Banking unit. "I never looked back," he asserts.
Terry's continuing desire to expand his areas of knowledge led him to the Master of Science in Global Finance program at NYU Stern/The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST). "I felt I was at a stage in my career where I needed to gain a broader understanding of other topics," he recalls. "I had been more focused on mainstream corporate finance activities, at identifying debt or equity capital-markets transactions or introducing pre-IPO investment opportunities to private clients. But when you meet with a private client, the topics of discussion are quite multifaceted and can include portfolio allocation issues and what kinds of structured products would be suitable given their risk profile, to name a few. I thought it would be useful to have an all-around understanding of other subjects relevant to my day job."
A well-designed program
For Terry, the MSGF program at NYU Stern/HKUST stood out from the competition because it focused on finance. Stern's stellar reputation in that field was another inducement. Further, he adds, the weekend schedule of the program was "well structured for people like me who have a full-time job during the week," and the two partner schools had put a lot of thought into the overall design of the program: "The curriculum gives you a comprehensive body of knowledge over the full range of finance disciplines." Terry also praises the faculty lineup at both NYU and HKUST.
The diversity of the program's cohort was another plus, in Terry's view. About two thirds of his peers were finance professionals, including bankers, asset managers, accountants, and venture capitalists, while the remainder came from such diverse backgrounds as manufacturing, advertising, and even a Nepalese power company. For the final integrative project, a key feature of the program, Terry's project team was led by an engineer from a multinational oil company; not coincidentally, the team's project was focused on analyzing the feasibility of building a billion-dollar oil and gas refinery. "You don't have many chances in your life to get to see how something like that works," Terry says. "I benefited from interacting with people with different experiences."
Ultimately, in addition to accomplishing the goals he had set for himself regarding broadening his finance knowledge base, the achievement of earning the MSGF degree through NYU Stern and HKUST afforded "a large degree of personal satisfaction," Terry states. Meeting the demands of the program while holding down a big job and maintaining an active family life was "quite a plateful," he admits.
At HSBC Private Bank, where he is Managing Director and Regional Head of Corporate Finance Solutions in Asia-Pacific, Terry's primary focus is on providing solutions to private banking clients who may need corporate finance advice, for instance on acquisitions and/or divestment of privately owned companies or raising capital through private equity channels or IPOs. A church youth volunteer, a student of Chinese calligraphy, and a regular swimmer, Terry is looking forward to a longer-term career in Hong Kong or perhaps in China. "This is home base for me," he says.