Sean Cao Directory Page

Sean Cao

Sean Cao

Associate Professor

Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


4332G Van Munching Hall

Dr. Cao is an associate professor (with tenure) in the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. He is also an affiliated professor at Harvard Business School (D^3 Institute). Prior to joining the Smith School, he held joint appointments in the Accounting and Finance Departments at Georgia State University. His research focuses on AI, FinTech and sustainability. Specifically, Dr. Cao has developed research programs focusing on how unstructured “big data” (such as text and images) and emerging AI technologies can help guide a) investment decisions; b) executives’ decision-making including corporate finance, disclosure/reporting, climate change, and social sustainability.

Dr. Cao’s research has been featured in theFinancial Times, CNBC, Bloomberg, The Guardian, and Quartz. To date, Dr. Cao has given over 100 invited research talks at major research universities, including Harvard University, MIT Sloan, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Cambridge as well as for national regulatory and policy-advisory agencies including the SEC, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the NBER. His papers (including those with PhD students) have won several best paper awards at prestigious conferences and have been published in premier journals in finance, accounting, and computer science, including theJournal of Financial Economics, the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, the Journal of Accounting Research, The Accounting Review, Contemporary Accounting Research, and IEEE Computer. Dr. Cao also serves as a guest associate editor at Management Science and a track chair of Big Data, Fintech and Blockchain for American Accounting Association.

Dr. Cao is deeply committed to helping business communities through his research. He has been honored with the award by the Deloitte Initiative for AI and Learning (DIAL). In the Deloitte program, he takes the leading role to develop AI solutions for social inclusion and climate change. His research has also been invited for presentations and keynote addresses around the world for both academic and industrial audiences including leading financial and Tech firms such as J.P. Morgan, State Street Boston, Accenture, Grant Thornton, Wolfe Research, NIV Asset Management, Ant Financial, Baidu, DataYes,, and Founder Securities.

In 2020 and 2022, Dr. Cao co-chaired conferences with the Review of Financial Studies (dual submission) on Fintech and Machine Learning. These conferences attracted an average of 150 high-quality submissions annually in the area of AI and Fintech (around 500 working papers in total over three years) from preeminent scholars in both finance and accounting. (See more at

Dr. Cao’s passion for research carries over into his teaching. He is committed to giving students access to the most cutting-edge learning materials with a strong data analytics component to help them achieve career success. He was ranked in the top 10 percent for outstanding teaching university-wide at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. For his PhD seminar at Maryland, he covers classical capital market research, emerging technologies, and sustainability. Dr. Cao has been invited externally by major research universities to teach short-term doctoral seminars on AI and Fintech in finance and accounting. He also runs a tutorial blog site (YouTube: Sean Cao_Fintech or Bilibili ID: Seancao_) that aims to help scholars outside of computer science smoothly adapt machine learning to finance and accounting research.

Research Fellowships, Awards and Keynote talks

Award recipient of Deloitte Initiative for AI and Learning for developing responsible AI for social equity and climate change

American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) Best paper award winner (with coauthors), From Man vs. Machine to Man + Machine: The Art and AI of Stock Analyses , 2022 Midwest Finance Association

Best Paper Award Winner (with coauthors), From Man vs. Machine to Man + Machine: The Art and AI of Stock Analyses , 2022 Global AI Finance Conference

Best Paper Award Winner (with coauthors), From Man vs. Machine to Man + Machine: The Art and AI of Stock Analyses , 2022 CFRC Conference, PBC School of Finance, Tsinghua University

Best Paper Award Winner (with coauthors), From Man vs. Machine to Man + Machine: The Art and AI of Stock Analyses , 2022 Annual Conference in Digital Economics, ACDE

Best Paper Award Winner (with coauthors), How to Talk When Machines are Listening: Corporate Disclosure in the Age of AI , 2021 CAPANA Research Conference

FMA 2021 Best Paper Semi-finalist in FinTech (with coauthors), Can Machines Understand Human Decisions: Dissecting Stock Forecasting Skill?

Keynote and Panel Speaker for “Latest NLP models in capital market research” at Technical University of Munich (Technische Universität München), Germany, Nov 18 - 19, 2021

Panel Speaker at the Academy of Management conference for “Textual and Voice Analysis for CEO Traits and Emotion: Challenges and Future Research Directions”, August 2022

Panel Speaker at “Toronto Rotman CPA Conference” (with 2,000 FinTech professionals and industry participants), Canada

See video broadcasted on Feb 17, 2021

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