The financial crisis has turned people's attention to the importance of financial analysis and investment management, prompting many to go for mainly niche qualifications. There has been increased demand for financial professionals who have a clear understanding of the market and financial tools. 'For Hong Kong to maintain the status of an international financial centre and for industry practitioners to improve their competitiveness, there is an urgent need for rigorous educational programmes to enhance the level of knowledge and professional services,' says Professor John Wei, department of finance at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). 'The demand for expertise in financial analysis and risk management will continue to increase in the post-financial crisis era and during the economic recovery. Though the financial tsunami is a global phenomenon and the global economy seems to be stabilised, a lot of uncertainties remain.' HKUST offers part-time programmes including master's degrees in financial analysis and investment management. 'The programmes have been widely recognised by finance professionals as premier academic programmes,' Wei says. Students on the financial analysis programme will focus on corporate finance or security analysis, while students on the investment management course will specialise in asset management or risk management. Students usually take 18 to 24 months to complete their studies. An intake of about 110 students is planned for the 2010-2011 academic year. The school of business and management is looking for finance professionals or individuals who have plans to pursue a career in major financial corporations. The objective is to provide rigorous training to students interested in professional careers in the finance industry or job opportunities related to finance. Challenges brought by the financial crisis have led to uncertainties that have intensified competition. Graduates are expected to have enhanced financial knowledge in order to compete in the arena and develop their careers. 'Both programmes begin with a solid foundation in accounting, economics, quantitative and computing skills, asset valuation and financial derivatives that are core subjects in the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) curriculum,' Wei says. The programmes provide training that helps students to strengthen their knowledge and expertise, and to prepare for CFA examinations. 'Students can then build on top of this broad knowledge base by choosing advanced courses and specialised electives that lead to concentration in corporate finance, security analysis, asset management or risk management,' Wei says. Other than taking core subjects that are included in the CFA examinations, students may take courses in areas such as corporate restructuring, hedge funds, investment advisory, derivatives trading, structured products and risk management. The university invites market practitioners and field experts to teach some elective courses where practical applications of different contexts will be covered so that students are able to apply newly learned knowledge to real business deals. The course structure includes case studies, projects and in-class and online discussions. Moreover, faculties will introduce the latest market trends or issues via class discussions, homework assignments and projects. Graduates of the financial analysis programme will be able to provide accurate analysis of business potential and provide financial valuations for investing and in closing business deals. The risk management programme equips students with expert knowledge in areas of risk control, such as internal and external risk, and operational and company risk. 'The career prospects of our graduates will be even better after the financial crisis,' Wei says. 'By investing in their own human capital, the increase in their financial, analytical and investment management knowledge will increase their competitiveness in the job market.' Applicants are expected to possess a good bachelor's degree from a recognised university or approved institution, a satisfactory GMAT score, or more than seven years of working experience in the financial industry, and English proficiency. Working experience is not a must but strongly preferred. The school takes in students with at least one year of full-time post-qualification working experience.