Mentorship and Research Collaboration Are Keys to Career Growth

As a quantitative analyst at Morningstar, the Chicago-based investment research and management services firm, Yao “Jason” Xie develops mathematical and statistical models to analyze portfolio risks and identify investment opportunities for clients.

He credits his experience at Stuart School of Business—especially the mentoring from his dissertation adviser, which continues to this day—for developing his research expertise and helping guide his career planning in finance.

After completing his M.S. in Finance at Stuart in 2015, Xie got some experience working as an investment data analyst at J. P. Morgan before plunging back into his studies in Stuart’s Ph.D. in Management Science program, with a specialization in finance.

“The doctoral program at Stuart is closely aligned to what I wanted to study and the courses are well designed to prepare me for my career,” he says. “My experience interacting with faculty has been very inspirational. My thesis adviser and mentor, Associate Professor of Finance Sang Baum Kang, guided me throughout the program, as well as through the job search process.”

Xie and Kang met every week as Xie decided on his thesis topic, conducted research, and wrote his dissertation on topics in clean energy finance and cryptocurrencies. Their work together resulted in a scholarly paper, “Are Stablecoins Safe Havens for Traditional Cryptocurrencies? An Empirical Study during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” published in the journal Applied Finance Letters while Xie was still a student.

The third co-author of the paper was Stuart alumna Jailin Zhao (Ph.D. MSC ’17), a former advisee of Kang and a frequent research collaborator who is associate professor of quantitative management at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.

Kang continues to meet regularly with Xie and Zhao to talk about potential research topics and collaborate on research projects. In 2023, their research paper titled “What Information Variables Predict Bitcoin Returns? A Dimension-Reduction Approach” was published in The Journal of Alternative Investments. Currently, they are working on a project about environmental, social, and governance practices and corporate performance.

For Xie, his ongoing connections with Stuart colleagues have been key to his career growth.

“Being a top-notch research company, Morningstar values hot topics that investors care about,” says Xie, “so my research experience at Stuart, and to the present day, plays a huge role in my current job. Not just the topics, but also the research methodologies I’ve learned at Stuart are almost identical to what I am implementing in my professional work.”


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