Zicheng joined the University of Surrey as an Assistant Professor (Lecturer) in Finance and Accounting in April 2016. He graduated from Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, with a BSc degree in Accounting. He holds a MSc in Finance from Manchester Business School and has completed his PhD in Finance from the University of Warwick with a particular focus on Payout Policy, Corporate Governance, Capital Structure, Institutional Investors, and Empirical Behavioral Finance.
Zicheng presents his research every year in academic conferences and his most recent work is published in the Journal of Corporate Finance.
Areas of specialism
Payout Policy, Corporate Governance, Political Activism, Capital Structure, Institutional Investors, and Empirical Behavioural Finance
University roles and responsibilities
- Programme Director of MSc International Financial Management
Affiliations and memberships
Corporate Payout Policy, Corporate Governance, Political Activism, Capital Structure, Institutional Investors, and Empirical Behavioural Finance
Using Internet search volume of dividend-related keywords as a direct measure of investor preference for dividends (i.e., dividend sentiment), we show that dividend sentiment is high when economic conditions are poor. Mutual funds that pay high dividends receive more inflows when dividend sentiment is stronger. Further, firms initiate or increase dividends when dividend sentiment is stronger, especially in regions with strong dividend sentiment. We find similar results for share repurchases. Shifts in dividend sentiment predict higher demand for dividends and higher returns for high dividend stocks. Collectively, these results suggest that dividend sentiment affects corporate policies and asset prices.
This paper analyzes agency conflicts between U.S. public pension funds and other shareholders. It studies the landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Citizens United v. FEC, which opens new doors for political activism by the business. At the ruling, politically connected firms held by public pension funds have lower announcement returns. After the ruling, these firms remain engaged in political connections and experience a relative increase in ownership by public pension funds. Our evidence is consistent with public pension funds having a preference for more traditional forms of political activism, a preference not shared by other investors.
Boston College; University of Miami; ESMT European School of Management and Technology; University of Warwick; University of Exeter; Kings College London; Queen Mary University of London.
Refereeing (Academic Journals)
Journal of Corporate Finance; Journal of Banking and Finance; Journal of Empirical Finance; Journal of Business Research; the Financial Review
I was awarded the early career researcher of the year in Surrey Business School in 2017
I teach MAN3080 Financial Management and MAN3172 Finance in Business 3 for Undergraduate Students.
I received the Annual Award for Teaching Excellence in Surrey Business School in 2018.
I received the Recognition Letter from the Dean and Deputy Dean of Surrey Business School in 2019 as I ranked the Top 10 for teaching at Surrey Business School.
Courses I teach on
Postgraduate research supervision
PhD Supervisor of Chen Yang
Rui Albuquerque, Zicheng Lei, Jörg Rocholl and Chendi Zhang, "Citizens United vs. FEC and Corporate Political Activism", Journal of Corporate Finance, Forthcoming.
Zicheng Lei and Chendi Zhang, "Leveraged Buybacks", Journal of Corporate Finance 39, 242-262.