The global financial sector is currently facing unprecedented challenge and a period of adjustment is looming on the horizon. Growing fast in the international financial stage, China is expected to be the first to pick up pace, and the proximity between Hong Kong and the mainland puts local professionals in an advantageous position.
While the majority of market savvy and bilingual proficient Hong Kong financial professionals look to leverage on China's growing potential, Bernard Chan, programs director, ABRS Professional Learning Services, foresees that demand for financial professionals, especially for investment analysts will continue to surge, shortly after the financial crisis recedes.
To grasp the upcoming opportunities, budding professionals must develop a niche so as to stay head of the game, Mr Chan says.
In a bid to equip professionals in the wider finance sector with the knowledge and skills essential for reaching the top tiers of the industry, ABRS Professional Learning Services is launching a new master of science (MSc) in finance and investment analysis programme.
In collaboration with the University of Greenwich in the UK, the programme covers the practical and academic knowledge needed, particularly in financial management, investment analysis, risk management and research. The curriculum is especially designed to prepare students to sit the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) examinations, and to hone their critical thinking and academic writing abilities.
Hong Kong has the world's third greatest concentration of CFA students, only surpassed by the US and China. "The programme's emphasis on the CFA syllabus is a strong appeal to Hong Kong students," says Nick Hand, academic director for development of Greater China, University of Greenwich.
Working adults expect value for their money and valuable time. Given that relatively cheaper and shorter CFA preparatory courses are available in town, this master's programme underscores the development of students' academic competence, giving the learning experience an extra dimension. "This sets our students apart from their professional counterparts," adds Mr Chan.
Hong Kong's professionals are renowned for their cultural adaptability and international exposure. In this regard, the basic structure of the Hong Kong programme follows that of the original UK programme. "However, to increase its relevancy to Hong Kong's financial scenario, a majority of teaching will be conducted by local experts and local examples will be incorporated," Mr Hand points out. Besides this, students will have access to a wealth of learning resources including the online library of the University of Greenwich with thousands of online journals available.
Key to effective learning are peers support and healthy competition among students. These also help internalise knowledge and optimise learning results. According to Mr Chan, the majority of applicants for the new programme hail from a economic or business background, while some of them possess an MBA or PhD qualification. "They all share a common interest in the financial field," he says, adding that 25 to 30 students will be admitted this year but the student population will grow to around 70 for each preceding academic year.
ABRS' overseas programmes deliver face-to-face teaching where students can form study groups for mutual support. An alumni association was also formed to facilitate networking between current students and graduates from ABRS and the University of Greenwich. "Since our students and graduates are high level professionals in the global financial field, fellow students can take the opportunity to develop a constructive social network," notes Mr Chan.