THE Hong Kong Investment Funds Association (HKIFA) is launching the first of several training programmes next month to boost the profile of unit trusts. The first programme will be held for people working in the fund management industry, particularly marketing professionals. 'This is the first comprehensive training course offered by the association,' said HKIFA chairman Roger Pyrke. 'The initiative is undertaken in line with a major educational brief which aims to ensure that industry professionals are well versed with the industry.' After meeting demand for training in the mutual fund industry, the HKIFA plans to extend the programme to the banking sector. 'We believe that as banks expand their fund management and the distribution function, there is a latent demand for this type of training programme,' said Mr Pyrke. The course will cover how to construct portfolios for clients, information on the regulatory framework and types of securities and the kind of investment funds available. A survey by the association last October revealed a number of new findings, among them that many Hong Kong Chinese investors steer clear of mutual funds because they do not understand how the investments work. The training courses will be held quarterly.