In a dynamic investment world, both institutional and individual investors rely strongly on objective market analysis. In a bid to increase public understanding of financial analysis skills and to upgrade industry standards, The Hong Kong Society of Financial Analysts Limited (HKSFA) offers a number of public investment education programmes, as well as courses geared towards members' professional development.
Founded in 1992, the HKSFA is a non-profit organisation and a member society of CFA Institute, with a mission to promote professionalism and ethical standards among financial analysts and investment practitioners in Hong Kong.
CFA Institute has more than 94,000 members in 134 countries and territories, while the HKSFA has over 5,000 members, of which 87 per cent are CFA charterholders. This makes it one of the four biggest societies of its kind in the world.
There are variations in standards in the financial analysis fields in Hong Kong and mainland China, says Karl Lung, president of the HKSFA. These differences can be attributed to the rapid expansion in the wealth management market. Mr Lung explains that the increasing demand for wealth management has led to a fast-growing market, but with limited time for professionals in the industry to complete comprehensive training covering the whole investment spectrum.
The problem is not limited to Hong Kong and China, but it has also surfaced in many other countries, Mr Lung remarks. For this reason, healthy development of the market depends both on public investment education and the professional development of financial analysts.
The society offers a range of development events for members, including luncheons, seminars, workshops and networking sessions. Since the HKSFA is recognised by The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) as an institution providing continuous professional training (CPT), such programmes qualify as continuous professional training hours.
The society also actively promotes Global Investment Performance Standards (GIPS) by acting as its official local sponsor to educate the public about general performance measurements and GIPS.
GIPS is a set of ethical principles developed by CFA Institute and used by investment management firms to establish a globally standardised, industry-wide approach to creating performance presentations that communicate investment results to prospective clients. The standards emphasise fair representation and full disclosure.
"We have also worked with CFA Institute to provide a Chinese translation of the GIPS standards for use in China, which we believe is an important move to raise awareness and introduce industry best practice to the investment industry in China," Mr Lung notes.
Considering the limited public understanding of the investment field, the HKSFA has also taken steps towards promoting public investment education. Joint investment education seminars with the SFC and the Open University of Hong Kong aim to introduce the general public to long-term investment techniques and analysis skills to manage their wealth in a vibrant market.
The society's University Investment Research Competition challenges students' analytical skills and ability to make sound investment recommendations. The objective is to promote the practice of professional investment research among university students.
Hong Kong has more than 3,800 CFA charterholders, while China has more than 1,100. As the investment market becomes more complex, the CFA designation, which indicates high professional standards, is sought after by employers in the industry in general.
Most CFA charterholders work as analysts or investment managers in institutionalised sales, risk management, private banking and wealth management, as well as other investment-related industries, says Mr Lung. With more capital pouring into the market, career prospects for CFA charterholders in Hong Kong remain bright over the next few years.
"We foresee that the growing mainland China market with its limited supply of CFA charterholders will provide room for development for charterholders from Hong Kong, but competition will be keen. The CFA designation is the first step towards career success, but professionals must continuously improve their professional knowledge and especially their analytical skills," he says.
Career opportunities for CFA charterholders on the mainland will increase substantially as more companies and financial institutions become aware of the status of the CFA designation, Mr Lung believes.
With the high number of candidates in both Hong Kong and mainland China, Mr Lung believes the membership base of the society will continue to grow strongly over the next few years. Recently, the HKSFA has also introduced a new membership class for senior associates, with the aim of recruiting experienced investment professionals who share its mission from outside the society.