Career Path

Dynamic self-starter carves a niche in foreign exchange

by Nicolette Wong

Peggy Cheung
vice president of sales
FXCM Asia Limited
Photo: Dickie Tam

The finance field may be volatile, but some high achievers thrive on its excitement and challenging environment. Peggy Cheung, vice president of sales, FXCM Asia Limited, is one such example.

A rewarding career with a leading forex trading company has given Ms Cheung successive opportunities to fulfil her potential. After graduating in finance and economics from the University of Virginia in the US, she worked in a sales position in the area of technology until she returned to Hong Kong in 2003 when FXCM opened its first Asian office in the bustling city.

She had developed a keen interest in foreign exchange and the global financial markets during her years abroad, so grabbed the chance to join the expanding company. This essentially changed the course of her career journey.

Ms Cheung started off in a retail sales associate position, serving the organisation's Chinese-speaking clients worldwide and subsequently focused on the Asia-Pacific markets. Within six months she switched to running the company's institutional sales department, working with colleagues in the US, while establishing sales procedures and manuals for the Hong Kong office.

Climbing the ladder

The next move came a year later, when Ms Cheung reunited with the company's retail department as team leader, before assuming her current position, overseeing FXCM's retail sales activities in the Asia-Pacific markets, working closely with team leaders to come up with new business initiatives and review staff performance.

Aside from managing the team's day-to-day operation, her responsibilities encompass staff training and communicating with the company's international offices. She also spends a good chunk of her day meeting with FXCM's managing director to discuss business development and team performance.

Many memorable experiences have shaped her professional life, she reflects, adding that the development of FXCM Asia's sales team has been one of her major accomplishments. "I revamped the entire training procedure for our sales team and ran daily training. This gave me valuable insight into ways of improving our performance further. I'm also proud of my involvement in various projects carried out in conjunction with our US office."

Young job candidates should have a real passion for the finance industry and foreign exchange trading, Ms Cheung points out. "In fact, this is as important as a good education," she adds.
While it is vital for sales professionals in any field to be ambitious and proactive, being courteous and able to work efficiently in a team environment are essential personal attributes in the field of finance. "Today's discerning clients have highly diversified investment portfolios and we need to listen carefully to their needs to draw up tailor-made recommendations."

Chasing her goals

The most rewarding aspects of Ms Cheung's career have been FXCM's rapid growth and the fast development of the foreign exchange market. Both have challenged her talent and drive.

"I'm really fortunate to have the opportunity to work for a company that nurtures its people and recognises ability. We always have new projects in the pipeline and there are good opportunities for those who work hard," she adds.

Tightened regulations in major financial markets such as the US and those in Europe have seen many smaller foreign-exchange dealers that could not meet strict capital requirements taken over by larger firms. Ms Cheung, in her currently role, ensures that members of her team are equipped for change and providing market insights to today's discerning customers who may then better plan their investment portfolios and maximise their gains, she explains, advising aspiring finance professionals to ensure they are well prepared, with good insight into the constantly evolving markets.

Most university degrees in this area cover only theory. Hands-on foreign exchange trading knowledge comes from real-life observation, she emphasises. "It pays to follow the financial news every day and to get an understanding of how different markets interact."

As a highly driven career woman, Ms Cheung is constantly pushing herself to do even better and takes great pride in overcoming obstacles along the way. "I put my heart and soul into exceeding expectations and get great satisfaction from sharing my enjoyment of my job with my colleagues," she concludes.

Career Path

Role Annual income
Managing director (Over 21 yrs of exp) Negotiable
Senior vice president (Over 16 yrs of exp) Negotiable
Vice president (Over 11 yrs of exp) 1,000k
Team leader / manager (6 - 8 yrs of exp) 600k
Senior sales associate (2 - 3 yrs of exp) 350k
Sales associate (Entry level) 230k

Figures provided by FXCM Asia Limited
Promotion subject to availability and acumen
For reference only

Taken from Career Times 6 May 2011, B8

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