financiers of the future earn their tea and biscuits with six hours' sweat
It may not be in the Guinness World Records, but the fact that 5,200 young hopefuls sat different levels of the six-hour Chartered Financial Analyst examinations on Sunday shows why Hong Kong is the international financial centre that it is.
The candidates sitting the exams at the Convention and Exhibition Centre accounted for 6 per cent of the 84,491 candidates globally aiming to become investment professionals.
This year only the mainland had more candidates for the exams with 5,840.
But what really made Hong Kong the standout venue were the post-exam drinks and snacks laid on for free at the Harbour Cafe by the Hong Kong Society of Financial Analysts.
As for the exams, apparently they were considerably more gruelling.
ethics vs earnings
Are you a fit and proper person to become a chartered financial analyst? Try this quick quiz.
A friend of Lai See's who sat Level 3 of the CFA was asked his first ethics question on insider trading and told to imagine this scenario:
As a bond fund manager, a rating agency analyst tells you he is about to downgrade a firm's debt rating and he is about to go on television to give an interview to that effect. You are also aware there is a wire agency story which has just appeared on the debt downgrade.
The question is: if you sell your bonds before the analyst gives the television interview, are you breaking the code of ethics?
While you should consult the CFA Institute for the textbook answer, be sure to also ask a fund manager for a reality check. Lai See bets you would get two entirely different answers.
one step ahead
If you wonder whether Bank of China chairman Xiao Gang is still celebrating the success of his company's listing last week, then think again.
A group of sharp-eyed reporters attending Hong Kong Institute of Bankers spotted him in the office of China Securities Regulatory Commission yesterday, fuelling speculation that BOC is already busy preparing an A-share listing.
'We are regularly communicating with the regulator on many issues,' said Mr Xiao, who did not deny the listing application.
We can say many things about China banking but it is not too far a stretch to suggest they are actually quite efficient.
in the pink
To err is human, but no one seems as human as the Hong Kong Securities Institute.
A sharp-eyed reader spotted a misspelling in the title notes of a lecture which is due to be given today by a professional body that focuses on model risk theory.
Unfortunately, the line - Bridging the Gay between Risk and Return - confers an unintended new angle on the subject.
'Too late to benefit from the success of Brokeback Mountain?' he wonders.
It is not without reason that GEM-listed retail company FX Creations International trades under a Chinese slogan that translates as 'full of creative ideas'.
Listed four years ago, the bag wholesaler recently signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire a new business in the global distribution of funeral-related products.
Having landed on the fatal shore, it's now as silent as the grave on details, only saying it has an exclusive right to cut a deal with the owners before October with a refundable $6 million cheque.
The share price of FX, meanwhile, has been very lively, shooting up 150 per cent this year.
While Lai See appreciates the pricing power of the funeral-related business, he's hard pressed to see the synergies.