On the basis of my understanding of finance, my life can be viewed as a three-phase metamorphosis.
Before 1978, I knew next to nothing about finance, although I had read Mao Dun’s masterpiece Midnight , a novel set in Shanghai circa 1930s featuring complex and tricky financial maneuvers.
After 1978, I became a student of finance, all the way from undergraduate to PhD. After stints as public servant at the Ministry of Finance and the China Securities Regulatory Commission, I jumped on the bandwagon of investment banking, a career shift highly desired then as now. Throughout this phase, I virtually immersed myself in the glamor of the macro and high finance.
The year 2013 witnessed a U-turn of my professional life, propelling me to dive from the pinnacle of the pyramid proudly above the clouds to the down-to-earth humility of financial inclusion. The reason? Through practices and observations, I came to the enlightenment that China is set to enter a new age of financial inclusion. Since the Reform and Opening-Up, China has in a sequential manner built a modern banking system, a modern capital market, and a seemingly all-encompassing modern financial system covering insurance, trust, and asset management, etc. This system, however, has a severe structural deficiency hidden inside of it, namely an exclusion from the system, to varied extents, of the numerous micro-, small and medium-sized businesses and other vulnerable groups. A gradually emerging consensus is that this structural deficiency has posed a lethal threat to China’s sustained and sound economic growth. China is crying out for an inclusive financial system.
Like climbing a mountain, building an inclusive financial system is easier said than done. The paradoxes and confusions concerning significant philosophical ideas, the conflicts and balance between the dual mandate of commercial viability and social good, and the scheming and synthesis between legacy finance and Fintech are among the topics that warrant meticulous investigations and solutions in the cause of financial inclusion.
Chinese Academy of Financial Inclusion, aspiring to the sky whilst firmly standing on the ground in its relentless pursuit of excellence, is determined to become China’s leading research institution. We are gratified to see that our efforts and achievements have been winning for us more and more partners. Traversing the path towards “Good finance, Good Society”, we are not solitary travelers.
Someday, with my sail piercing the clouds,
I shall mount the wind, cleave the waves, and traverse the vast, rolling sea.
Co-Chairman of the Governing Board and President
Chinese Academy of Financial Inclusion at Renmin University of China