Money Moves

Minimising investment risk through diversification

by Grace Chan

Tsui Tong-yi, managing director
FXCM Asia Limited
Photo: Nolly Leung

Flourishing forex trading firm boosts customer services and options

Disceming Hong Kong investors are increasingly looking to diversify their investment portfolios, with foreign currency trading being a popular choice.

"Investors' desire to diversify their investment portfolio has led to an increase in demand for financial products other than stocks and bonds," says Tsui Tong-yi, managing director, FXCM Asia Limited. "Investors no longer put all their eggs in one basket. Instead, they invest their money in stocks and real estate, as well as foreign currencies and gold."

Established in 2003, FXCM Asia offers 24-hour online foreign exchange trading services to clients across Asia. Clients are able to deposit and hold funds in Hong Kong. The firm's New York-based parent company, FXCM, is one of the world's largest retail foreign exchange firms.

There are a number of advantages to investing in foreign exchange, Mr Tsui points out. "The forex market is open 24 hours a day, allowing investors to trade at any time and to speculate on the global economy."

People investing in real estate in Hong Kong may be vulnerable to local economic fluctuations. "A number of the firms listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange are property holding companies, so stakeholders that invest in both stocks and real estate may be sinking too much of their wealth into one specific sector," he stresses.

Mr Tsui cautions however that foreign exchange margin trading entails a high level of risk, and therefore may not be suitable for all investors. "Past returns are not indicative to future results. The high degree of leverage can work for and against you," he explains. "Before making the investment, people should consider carefully their investment objectives, level of experience and risk appetite. Chances are they may sustain a loss of some or all of their initial investment so it may be wise not to invest money that they cannot afford to lose."

Comparative advantage

Due to the opportunities for risk diversification, foreign exchange markets appeal to a broad spectrum of investors. "People who prefer to speculate in less risky currencies can choose major G7 economies such as those of the US and Japan, while investors willing to take on higher risks can pick countries with more volatile currencies," notes Mr Tsui.

Recipient of the Hong Kong Retail Management Association's Customer Service Certificate (Merit Award) and's Outstanding Forex Brokerage Award, FXCM Asia is stepping up measures to enhance its customer service. "We moved to a new office with more retail space in Central in September last year to enable us to forge closer client relationships and facilitate better interaction with our customers," he says. "We also anticipate recruiting new staff to fit in with our expansion plans."

The company currently employs a global workforce in excess of 700, with more than 90 in Hong Kong. "Because of our recent business growth, we have at least 10 entry-level positions available across departments such as sales, marketing, dealing, IT, human resources and administration," Mr Tsui reveals.

While the company prefers candidates with university degrees, a positive attitude is equally important. Applicants with part-time work experience or those that have completed internships at banks or brokerages will have an advantage. "We believe integrity is paramount in our profession and our aim is to provide our clients with outstanding customer service," Mr Tsui notes.

New recruits receive basic introductory training, ranging from two weeks to a month, covering the company's products, customer relationship management, software knowledge and soft skills. Entry-level employees are also assigned mentors to provide coaching and support.

All staff members reveive continuous learning opportunities to ensure they are up to speed with the latest industry rules and knowledge and maintain their skills. The company also provides them with daily market updates and other information through its intranet, instant messaging and email.

FXCM Asia is mindful of the importance of knowledge management and therefore invests heavily in retaining talent and providing staff with a clear career path. "We treat every employee as an individual with the potential for a fruitful career. If we see that particular staff are capable of taking up more challenging projects, we will give them additional responsibilities," says Mr Tsui, who joined FXCM in New York seven years ago, but was promoted and transferred to Hong Kong to oversee its Asian operations two years ago.

He assesses the investment outlook for this year as "unpredictable", citing possible risks associated with the US and European economies. "Investors must remain cautious, while keeping their eyes open for opportunities," he concludes.

Bright future

  • Investing in foreign exchange allows clients to diversify their investment portfolio
  • Ongoing growth creates need for talented new staff
  • Continuous learning opportunities provided for all employees

Taken from Career Times 5 March 2010, A4

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