Equipped for successby Grace Chan
Particularly in the finance industry, it is imperative for graduates today to gain recognised qualifications and to continuously improve themselves. To this end, the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) works with a number of educational institutions to help students working towards eventual accreditation.
One recent joint initiative between the HKIB and the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE) involves a dual academic and professional qualifications agreement to facilitate quicker progress towards the Associate of the Hong Kong Institute of BankersTM (AHKIBTM) qualification.
The agreement allows IVE business administration students that have earned their higher diplomas in banking and finance, and have passed the banking service and professional ethics module, to be exempted from two core subjects that form part of the HKIB's diploma in banking and financial services curriculum.
Once they have earned this diploma, IVE students may proceed to the advanced diploma by completing two further subjects. On completion of the specialist diploma, which requires passing at least two specialist subjects and accumulating three years' work experience in the banking or finance industry, they earn the AHKIBTM professional status.
"The dual-qualification initiative will definitely benefit IVE students by equipping them with the professional knowledge and ethical values that are essential to excel in the industry," says Susanna Chan, academic director, business administration department, IVE. "We anticipate more joint endeavours with the HKIB."
With tighter regulations and increasing compliance in the banking and finance industry, young graduates need professional qualifications to stay competitive and to move forward in their careers, says Carrie Leung, chief executive officer, the HKIB.
Ms Leung believes the subject exemptions for the AHKIBTM qualification and the opportunity to be placed on an accelerated course towards highly respected industry accreditation present a golden opportunity for IVE students.
"Professional qualifications are essential, particularly for young graduates without much work experience. The sooner students are qualified, the better their prospects for career development," Ms Leung points out, adding that the AHKIBTM qualification can also be converted into the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland's Chartered Banker qualification, following a mutual recognition agreement between the two organisations in 2008.
"The joint initiative with the IVE has therefore created a continuous learning pathway for finance students to obtain international accreditation and increase their professional mobility," she says.
Since the HKIB is committed to nurturing newcomers and to raising the bar for the industry, the institute also supports IVE students through a wide range of additional learning and training programmes, as well as online study aids, to help them enhance their skills and ultimately be successful in their professional lives.
In spite of several economic ups and downs, Hong Kong's status as an international financial hub has remained unshaken over the past few decades, and recent developments in the offshore renminbi business are expected to further enhance the city's reputation as a major finance centre, says Stanley Wong, chairman, membership and professional development committee, the HKIB.
Mr Wong, who is also the executive director and general manager of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia), believes that growing links between Hong Kong and mainland China are creating more scope for growth for people in the banking and finance industry.
"Now is a good time for young graduates to enter the profession, since there are many positive factors supporting its long-term expansion," he says. "Aspiring finance professionals should plan early for careers spanning 20 to 30 years, making sure they equip themselves well for the future."
Continuous learning and good communication skills are essential in this field, Mr Wong stresses. "Following a trip to Mongolia in 1981 when I couldn't communicate with the locals, I've worked hard to improve my Mandarin skills," he recalls. "In 1997, by which time an increasing number of mainland customers were using our banking services, I was asked to run Mandarin training classes for more than 1,000 colleagues."
Mr Wong's improved language skills paid off. Four years later, he was appointed to help develop the bank's mainland operations and he stayed in Shanghai for more than two years. "Career opportunities may come at any time. Continuous learning should therefore be a priority right from the beginning, he concludes.
Leading the way forward
Taken from Career Times 8 October 2010, A4