Bank of America Merrill Lynch VP is among “the brashest entrepreneurs across the United States and Canada” Twitter
By Bryan Hay
At first, Laura Wong Hon Chan ’12 could barely believe she had made Forbes’ annual “30 Under 30” list, which presents “the brashest entrepreneurs across the United States and Canada” under the age of 30.
But after shaking off the excitement and taking stock of her achievements, she realized how far she has come since leaving Lafayette, grateful for the support of those around her as her career progresses.
Wong Hon Chan (mathematics and economics, concentration in financial policy and analysis, minor in computational methods) interned with Bank of America Merrill Lynch in 2011 and has been employed there since graduating. She is now vice president of the U.S. Rates Options Trading Desk within Bank of America’s Fixed Income Trading division, responsible for market-making and risk management of U.S. dollar interest rate derivatives.
She provides liquidity in products ranging from vanilla options to complex structured swaps. Her client base varies from large global institutional asset managers to smaller regional companies. Wong Hon Chan collaborates daily with sales to gauge her clients’ investment profiles and macro views, tailors custom derivatives solutions to meet their needs, and focuses on maximizing liquidity and hedge efficiency.
Born and raised in Baie du Tombeau, Mauritius, and living in New York City, Wong Hon Chan is among 600 young trailblazers in 20 industries in Forbes’ listing who “are shaking up some of the world’s stodgiest industries.”
She took some time recently to chat about her career and offer advice to Lafayette students as they consider their paths.
What was your response when you heard you made the Forbes list?
I was ecstatic and a bit incredulous. But foremost, I was grateful for my family, friends, and colleagues who motivated and supported me throughout my career. The Forbes 30 under 30 list is not ranked but instead is categorized by industry, and for this year’s 2019 selection, I appeared on the Finance section of 30 under 30.
Why did you choose Lafayette, and how did Lafayette prepare you for your career?
Being from Mauritius, I understood the value of community, and Lafayette’s student-to-faculty ratio of 10-to-1 struck me as a place where I would be able to develop a rapport with not only the student body, but also with the experts of their field. I was impressed by the publications and research written by the faculty and by the fact that undergraduate students were given access to contribute to such work through the EXCEL Scholars program. Lafayette taught me about respect for diversity, game theory, and how to be resourceful, and all of these traits helped differentiate me from the crowd.
Any professors who made a significant impression on you or professors with whom you stay in contact?
Chris Ruebeck [associate professor of economics] was extremely influential on my academic development and to this date, I still crack open The Complexity of Cooperation, the textbook that we used in Econ 375!
Did you expect to be a vice president of a major financial institution before age 30?
While I never gave this outcome a 100 percent chance of occurring, I did work passionately and ambitiously for it to become reality.
Career plans for after 30?
I would love to have ownership of a segment of the Fixed Income Currencies and Commodities division that would involve not only execution of trades, but, more importantly, strategy and business development.
Do you have any advice for Lafayette students as they embark on their careers?
Go out of your way to meet and converse with individuals outside your business and background because, as you specialize in your field, you need to remain wary of the unintended effects that an echo chamber could create.