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Student Spotlight

Genglei Ross Wei

Genglei "Ross" Wei

MBA student, MS Finance alum passes Level III of the CFA Exam

September 29, 2014

Genglei “Ross” Wei never dreamed he would study in America, but his enthusiasm, persistence, dedication and just a touch of luck got him here. Twice.

He grew up helping his parents on their farm in a small village in China. All through school, his father heavily emphasized the importance of academics. In China, the college entrance exam is the most significant factor into getting into a Chinese university, and it is something students prepare for over several years. 

Taking that exam allowed Wei to attend Xian International Studies University. And nerve-wracking exams have been a big part of his life ever since.

He recently received word that he passed the Level III exam of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program, a major achievement in the field of finance. In fact, he passed all three levels of the CFA exam on the first try. Not a common feat.

In 2012, WVU became a member of the CFA Institute University Recognition Program. Essentially, that meant B&E’s MS Finance program teaches to the standards of the CFA Institute, the most respected and recognized investment credential in the world. The curriculum prepares students well to sit for the three exams.

However, Wei had already completed Level I before he even set foot on American soil in 2011.

The touch of luck came in the form of Dr. Victor Chow, professor of finance at B&E. Chow visited Xian International Studies University Wei’s junior year. 

“I never expected to study in America, but Dr. Chow brought up the scholarship opportunities for those with high credentials,” he said. “I said to myself ‘I don’t know, but I want to try.’ So I tried it.”

As part of the application, Wei had to take the GMAT. It took some extra studying because the format was unlike anything he was used to on Chinese tests. But it paid off. The MS Finance program recommends that anyone who scores below a 600 should re-take the exam to strive for a better score. Wei got a 740 on the first try.

He was accepted to the program in March 2011. Since it was his final semester of undergrad, there wasn’t much to do aside from prepare for his dissertation and apply for his student visa. So, Dr. Chow encouraged Wei to prepare for the CFA Level I Exam.

“I did not know (about) CFA until I met Dr. Chow. I didn’t know what it meant, but once I was admitted, I prepared to sit for the Level I,” Wei said. He studied nonstop for a month and a half, and passed the exam on the first try – the first at his undergraduate university to do so.

He graduated from Xian in 2011 with a degree in economics with an emphasis on finance. Right away, he came to WVU to pursue his master’s studies and received his first master’s degree in 2012. He also passed the CFA Level II exam that same year.

After that, he took a short break from exam preparation and returned to China, where he worked for two years as a credit analysis assistant and a financial advisor. After getting some experience, Wei decided to pursue an MBA as well, and he returned to WVU in the summer of 2014. He said it was good to be back.

“Morgantown is the best town. There wasn’t a time that I didn’t miss this place when I went back to China. In China, there’s all this fog and you cannot see the sky. Here you can always see the blue sky, white clouds.”

Not long after returning to the US, Wei received his test results from the CFA Exam III. Another major accomplishment achieved.

“I had worked full time on the test. It was a very boring two months,” Wei said. “I checked my email. I saw that I passed, and I realized that it was very worth it.”

Such intense dedication to academics for a great length of time can be draining on a person. So, Wei makes time to run on the trail and swim at the WVU Rec Center twice a week to help clear his mind.

“I have a very tight schedule for myself. I believe that is the only way to improve yourself. And I believe good health is the foundation for success,” Wei said. 

To him, passing the Level III exam is just another step toward the ultimate goal of getting a great job. He’d like to work for a U.S. firm as an analyst or associate and work toward the CFA Charter.  Ultimately, he would like to start his own financial services business. He plans to keep up the hard work to get there.

“I realized that there is only one way: that is to put your full attention, 100% effort on (what you are working on.) You have to have some self-regulation. It is hard to focus for 10 hours a day for a test. But once you get through it, you are not afraid of anything. You’re an expert in this area now. To be an expert, you have to put in more than normal effort. I want to get to the top.”

Wei is expected to complete his MBA in 2015.