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While many uncertainties still trouble the global economy in the post-financial crisis era, there nevertheless remain opportunities for those who join the finance sector.
According to the department of finance at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), demand for expertise in financial analysis and risk management will continue to increase, to keep pace with new regulations and the need for better risk and control systems. Visitors to the Education & Careers Expo will find out about the important role of financial analysis in providing accurate assessment of business potentials and financial value in investment, as well as in closing business deals.
Designed to provide rigorous training to help students develop their careers in finance, HKUST's department of finance offers two part-time master's of science (MSc) programmes - one in financial analysis (MScFA) and another in investment management (MScIM).
The MScFA is tailored to executives who are working or planning to work in the finance industry or related functions. Meanwhile, the MScIM programme is designed for professionals who are already working in the finance field and who are interested in acquiring advanced specialist skills in risk and asset management.
Both programmes, which can be completed in 18 months, cover a large percentage of the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) examinations curriculum.
"The two programmes have been well received by prospective employers who have been impressed by the professionalism of our graduates," says a spokesperson for the programme office.
To keep pace with changes in the business world, HKUST programmes are constantly reviewed and upgraded. Starting with a solid foundation in accounting, economics, plus quantitative and computing skills, the curriculum also includes a focus on corporate finance, security analysis and asset management.
According to the programme office handling the two MSc degrees, the risk management and security analysis components of the programmes are also highly prized by employers. Also, new courses may be added in the future, in response to industry needs. For example, the study of the global economy and emerging markets has recently been added to the programme.
As a professional membership organisation, the Hong Kong Securities Institute (HKSI) is also committed to providing various internationally recognised examinations, high quality training courses, professional events and seminars, and respected membership services.
SF Wong, chief executive at HKSI, says that employers are always looking for people with relevant industry knowledge and qualifications.
"The qualifications offered by the HKSI can help finance professionals to advance their careers, and open up more opportunities for them in the future," says Wong. "Practitioners who understand regulations and have a good personal network also enjoy a competitive edge."
He says that, in general, employers expect their staff to be proactive and creative. "They have to broaden their horizons and explore the development of the local financial markets, as well as the global financial environment," says Wong. "Communication skills are also a must," he adds, pointing out that young employees need to be willing to face challenges and to keep learning about the demanding and complex needs of their clients.
At the Education & Careers Expo, Wong says that HKSI will introduce its associate and affiliate memberships. From January 30 this year, university graduates who have no industry experience can apply for associate membership and progress to ordinary membership, after attaining three years of industry experience.
Full-time students studying at universities or recognised institutions can apply for affiliate membership, and progress to associate member when they have attained the required qualification.
To serve these young members, the HKSI plans to organise monthly gatherings where experienced members can share their industry knowledge and career advice.
"The HKSI has enhanced its membership structure and we hope that this will attract the younger generation to join our ranks as HKSI members," says Wong. "More than 70 per cent of our members hold key management positions in their firms and contribute to the industry through their participation in the institute."
New entrants can also enrol in various exams, including the new Certified International Wealth Manager (CIWM) programme, designed to prepare professionals for the private wealth management industry.