Higher qualifications in finance a competitive advantage

by Christy Liu

Mr Lee believes that the MSc in finance and investment analysis qualification will enhance his career prospects Photo: Wallace Chan

A new master's degree provides Hong Kong finance practitioners with a strong professional foundation

In his recent policy address, Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang stressed that the financial services industry is the most important pillar supporting the city's economy.

In line with this, the government aims to increase efforts to develop Hong Kong as a global financial, asset management and offshore Renminbi business centre, attracting investment and professional talent both within the city and abroad. While this support can only increase the demand for wealth management professionals, it also raises the bar in terms of standards.

With an aim to provide a new, intensive part-time master's degree in finance and investment analysis, the UK-based University of Greenwich has joined forces with local training and education organisation ABRS Professional Learning Services.

Founded in 1890, the university has a reputation for quality teaching. Its business school has a well-established partnership with ABRS, providing learning programmes ranging from diplomas to master's degrees.

Taught by both UK- and Hong Kong-based lecturers, the programme provides students with solid knowledge of the CFA syllabus, ensuring that they are well equipped with the examinations required for accreditation.

Good grounding

Following the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers last year, employers have increased hiring requirements. Qualifications such as the internationally recognised CFA designation are now highly sought after.

"The incident led to a new emphasis on the importance of finance and investment knowledge," says C K Lam, a programme lecturer. "In the sophisticated financial environment, many employers require job candidates to possess internationally recognised qualifications such as the CFA designation."

While Hong Kong offers tremendous opportunities for financial professionals, it is professional qualifications that help industry players stay competitive in the market, Dr Lam explains. The programme's main focuses are financial management, investment analysis, risk management and research, targeting people with relevant university degrees and some work experience. Applicants without degrees but with suitable experience will also be considered.

"The aim of the programme is to give students a competitive advantage and to prepare them for management positions in their particular fields. It also provides a platform for people wanting to further their careers in financial management, investment, banking, financial planning, financial analysis and financial services," notes Dr Lam. "Actuaries, commodities and real-estate brokers, financial service advisers, loan officers, insurance underwriters and budget analysts can all benefit from the programme.

ABRS education consultant Ken Ting says: "We've been offering a range of highly popular and practical programmes in collaboration with the University of Greenwich for more than a decade. This MSc programme follows the same successful pattern as previous ones."

Hong Kong-based candidates that enrol for the programme become fully registered students with the University of Greenwich and have access to a range of online resources. They are also given access to a learning support centre with reference books, plus other learning resources and facilities.

Global perspective

One current student is Kenny Lee, a managing partner with investment company Churchill Capital Limited. Mr Lee believes the qualification will greatly enhance his future careers.

"My job is to help mainland enterprises planning to list on the stock market handle pre-IPO work. This programme has helped me to broaden my perspective on important issues related to finance and to gain detailed practical knowledge on financial and risk management," Mr Lee says.

Of all the taught modules, portfolio management has provided Mr Lee with the most profound insights. "It has exposed me to the latest techniques for making asset allocation decisions," he remarks.

The programme, which can be completed within 15 months, consists of 10 modules and a dissertation. These comprise financial management, international corporate finance, international capital markets, foundations of scholarship, financial and economic environment, financial accounting, risk management, portfolio management, topics in investment analysis and research methods for financial analysis. "Our teaching staff, of whom 40 per cent are University of Greenwich faculty members, are highly qualified," Mr Ting says.

In particular, lecturing staff include professors from the UK, experienced tutors here in Hong Kong and guest speakers from the industry. "This has given me the opportunity to learn from leaders from across the globe," Mr Lee notes.

Coming out tops

  • International programme combines the best of both worlds
  • Rich resources drive learning effectiveness
  • Master's qualification boosts career prospects

Taken from Career Times 06 November 2009, p. A15
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