Money Moves

Knowledge is power

by Ada Ng

Aric Au (left), director
Phillip Institute of Financial Learning Company Limited
Lewis Ng, dealing officer, customer service department, Phillip Securities (HK) Ltd
Photo: Louis Lam

Investor education increasingly important as markets head into choppy waters

Having experienced some turbulent economic times over the past decade, most Hong Kong investors have developed the necessary savvy to protect themselves against market volatility.

"Knowledge is an investor's safety net," says Aric Au, director, Phillip Institute of Financial Learning Company Limited. Mr Au adds that investment is not always an easy way of making money, due to volatility in stock and property markets caused by speculative trading.

However, the more people learn about different products and their own appetite for risk, the more confident they are likely to trust their instinct to invest wisely in the stock market.

"Investor education creates a win-win solution for both investors and the financial industry," Mr Au stresses.

With this in mind, Phillip Securities (HK) Ltd established the Phillip Institute of Financial Learning early in 2002.

Practical approach

Access to information is essential for people wanting to start trading and investing, Mr Au notes. The institute offers a three-month preparatory programme for people intending to sit the Hong Kong Securities Institute's Licensing Examination (LE) for Securities and Future Intermediaries, covering components of the syllabus for LE Papers 1, 7 and 8.

"We're probably one of the few securities firms in Hong Kong that provides professional training and development programmes to clients as well as prospective investors to attain recognised credentials in the finance sector," Mr Au says.

Not everyone enrols in the programme is preparing for exams. "Since the onset of the financial crisis, an increasing number of people joined simply to enhance their financial competence for their own investment purposes," Mr Au notes.

He adds, "Our aim is to help these people to develop an understanding of the markets, investment risks and their rights and obligations."

The programme not only focuses on theory, but also incorporates expert insights, as well as "psychological training" to prepare students for joining the finance industry.
Experienced financial advisers and brokers from the company's securities division are also invited as speakers to explain their roles, share their experiences in the workplace and detail challenges and career possibilities in the field.

Other guest speakers that deliver lectures periodically on their areas of specialisation such as futures and options, currencies and equities, include finance experts from the company's securities division.

"Since we aim to make the programme as practical as possible, speakers incorporate plenty of case studies and personal anecdotes to demonstrate to participants how classroom knowledge can be applied in real life situations," Mr Au explains.

Other hands-on approaches include site visits to major corporations and tours of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to provide programme participants with an understanding of the techniques used for company analysis and how the bourse operates.

Professional conduct

Phillip Securities (HK) Ltd is a member of Singapore-based Phillip Capital, which offers a full range of financial services, including asset management, bonds, securities broking, futures and options, foreign exchange and unit trusts in Hong Kong.

Since the recent economic woes, global scrutiny of risk management and professional ethics and conduct in the industry has increased significantly.

This emphasis has spread to the licensing examination syllabus, where ethical standards and best practices make up an increasing portion of the curriculum, Mr Au notes.

The institute's programme is therefore now structured to focus more on modules related to regulatory frameworks and ethics. Guest speakers from Phillip Securities' audit department make a point of relaying case studies and real-life examples from this practice area. More than 800 people have participated since the inception of the programme.

The institute also offers a range of short, topical programmes for investors who want to gain a deeper understanding of specific markets or product areas. These include programmes on fundamental and technical analysis and skills to use data-analysis software to assist with investment decisions.

One of the most popular short programmes has been one on futures and options, says Lewis Ng, dealing officer, customer service department, Phillip Securities.

Mr Ng, one of the programme lecturers, notes that participants come from various backgrounds, including information technology, education and manufacturing.

Despite their varied qualifications and career focuses, all of them are eager to gain more understanding of market structures and investment strategies to devise their own financial portfolios.

Since the onset of the financial crisis, an increasing number of people looked to enhance their financial competence for their own investment purposes

Inform and engage

  • Enhanced knowledge increases investors' confidence
  • Investor education provides insights into specific markets and product areas
  • Preparatory programmes incorporate talks by experts and "psychological" training

Taken from Career Times 12 February 2010, P2

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