Joint law course to focus on credit risk

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 July, 2007, 12:00am

Business professionals in Hong Kong will have the chance to take a unique executive diploma programme from September in asset recovery law, receivable and fraud control practice.

The course, offered jointly by the law division of HKU SPACE and Receivable Management Services (HK), or RMS, will be the first of its kind in Asia and will teach legal skills and credit risk practices relevant to organisations operating in Hong Kong, the mainland and internationally.

Called the Executive Diploma in Asset Recovery Law, Receivable and Fraud Control Practice, the syllabus will give students a full understanding of the business risk cycle and equip them in three main areas.

They will learn how to formulate effective credit policies, maintain a healthy cash flow and implement procedures which secure a higher ratio of accounts receivable for their employers.

'It is a multidisciplinary programme in a specialised area combining law with business,' said Enoch Young Chien-ming, director of HKU SPACE. 'We use the rule of law as an anchor, but are also emphasising the economic integration of China with the rest of the world.'

Professor Young said graduates would qualify to become RMS receivable practitioners, a designation now recognised in more than 170 countries.

Headquartered in the United States, RMS is a leading global supplier of receivable management services. It has about 35,000 clients worldwide and has trained thousands of executives over the years.

The executive diploma consists of four modules: asset recovery law and anti-fraud investigations; China commercial law; collection, documentary credits and international trade law; and receivable management and financial regulatory compliance.

Each module consists of 33 hours of teaching, plus project work, intensive workshops and case studies. Classes will be held on weekday evenings and Saturday afternoons over eight months.

The medium of instruction will be Cantonese, with the China law module conducted partly in Putonghua, and there will two intakes a year.

Zoe Chan So-yuen, programme director for the HKU SPACE division of law, said that course teachers would be faculty professors, industry practitioners and respected experts.

She said that most applicants were expected to be business professionals working in banking, accountancy, law, or credit risk management.

Alternatively, they might be individuals looking for a change of career.

Ms Chan said students must pass continuous assessments - not examinations - and they could opt to take just single modules, for which a statement of achievement would be awarded, rather than a diploma.

Standard course fees are HK$22,000. However, discounts are available for members of professional associations, such as accountancy bodies and the Law Society of Hong Kong, as well as for groups of three or more.

It is possible to apply for reimbursement because the programme and individual modules are on the government's Continuing Education Fund list.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, RMS chief financial officer Michael Kronenfeld said an important part of the course would be exploring collection practices in China in the legal framework.

He said that Hong Kong-based exporters could easily run into major financial problems if receivables were managed poorly.

'China still has significant delinquency for export products, so you need to come to grips with that to solve the cash flow problem,' he said.

Mr Kronenfeld said that organisations such as banks and telecommunications companies also had to know how to recover equipment or customers' fixed assets when other methods of obtaining payment had failed.

For that reason, the course would also focus on customer relationships and cover letters of credit in the Hong Kong environment.

Professor Young said it had taken about nine months to plan and design the course.

'The most difficult thing, especially for an innovative programme, is to identify the demand,' he said.

The process involved close internal consultation with other HKU departments to compare ideas about 'the market', and to review the type of inquiries and suggestions received from employers, professional associations and potential partners.

'The trend is for more multidisciplinary programmes,' Professor Young said.

'It is becoming very common for professionals to need to know about different areas.'