There is an escalating need for continuous learning in the banking and financial industry. An associateship from the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) is therefore a highly sought-after accreditation for ambitious individuals in the pursuit of career advancement.
The HKIB has a 45-year history in Hong Kong, and its associateship (AHKIB), a professional qualification held by many senior bankers, is being developed into a comprehensive qualification framework. The HKIB now remains the only institute in Hong Kong to provide professional banking qualifications for the industry.
"The AHKIB integrates practical skills and knowledge in addition to academic theories," remarks Susanne Hui, general manager (institute development) of the HKIB.
The AHKIB designation is often required when banks recruit new employees. "Banks tend to find that staff with the AHKIB skilled in the workplace," Ms Hui says.
"The associateship is a rather comprehensive programme aiming to foster a thorough understanding of the banking operation as a whole, bearing in mind that the banking business is immensely complex," she says, adding that risk management, for example, has become a hot topic in the industry and is therefore a core subject of the programme.
Such good preparation helps bankers with career development, whether they work in treasury, credit or operations, three key businesses of any banking institutions. "Other core subjects such as banking-related law, monetary and financial systems and accountancy for banking offer excellent back-up knowledge for specialists venturing into any department," she states.
By adding the specialist areas of certified financial management planner and wealth management programmes, the overall system is made more comprehensive, Ms Hui emphasises. "Canada and the UK follow roughly the same practices in this respect, and the HKIB has been appointed by the Education Bureau for establishing a qualification framework for Hong Kong's banking and financial industry. A certain degree of restructuring may be needed in the near future, but we are getting there," she says.
Different divisions in a bank are functionally specialised and yet interrelated with one another. Therefore, when professionals in the banking and finance industry reach management level, they need the total perspective offered by the AHKIB, according to Ms Hui.
"I have asked quite a number of senior executives why they value the AHKIB and they often tell me that although they may have spent many years in one specific function, they still need to have a comprehensive and bigger picture of the interrelating banking functions," she stresses.
Ms Hui also notes that fresh graduates working as trainees can benefit from taking the AHKIB examinations. "They may not have a banking or finance major from university, but recruiting banks nowadays increasingly look for talented individuals who have the necessary attributes without necessarily having to have a degree in finance. They then send such new recruits to the HKIB for ongoing studies," she says, adding that the trend is similar in mainland China.
The HKIB also encourages associates to share practices with other banking professionals on an international level through networking. Ms Hui believes this will improve the overall standard across the industry and ensure compliance with the regulations, prevention of anti-money laundering, and securities and futures ordinances.
Ms Hui stresses that there is a great demand for young talent in the industry. "Senior bankers in Hong Kong started working back in the 70s and 80s. I am optimistic about expanding our talent pool to meeting ongoing industry requirements though a comprehensive programme such as the AHKIB," she concludes.