Money Moves

Securities sector requires versatility

By Priscilla Chong

This is a fortnightly series of articles focusing on the banking and financial industries

Louie Shum, managing director, Sincere Securities Ltd
Photo: Edde Ngan

With retail banks looking to expand aggressively by providing clients with a diverse range of investment services, specialist securities firms have felt the need to point out a few things. The frontline staff in banks don't call clients with the very latest financial news or provide them with timely market advice backed up by detailed research and analysis. Nor do they conduct in-depth reviews of portfolio performance for individual investors

Louie Shum, managing director of Sincere Securities Ltd, draws attention to these factors when explaining that, despite fierce competition and the effects of the economic cycle, the securities industry is still strong and offers great attractions in both financial and career terms.

As in any profession, the first few months for a new broker can be tough, but a person who possesses diligence, an analytical mind and communication skills has the main attributes needed to do well. To make the correct "buy or sell" decisions requires understanding of industry sectors and individual companies, the ability to interpret corporate results and accounting practices, and knowledge of how news events and management strategies can affect the overall prospects of a business.

These skills must be applied not just to the bigger multinationals, which publicise their results and plans well, but potentially to any company with a board listing, whether it is in cosmetics or industrial paint. It takes time to develop the necessary range of knowledge, but brokers are expected to have relevant information at their fingertips whenever a client phones. They must therefore be adept at decoding statistics, graphs and market signals and able to spot trends which can used as the basis for investment advice.

As Mr Shum notes, versatility is important. "Nearly one-third of our brokers are able to handle dealings in all three of our major product areas – securities, foreign exchange and gold transactions," he says. This policy has helped the company to provide steady income for brokers in times when market volumes in one sector have fallen.

Every new recruit is given training conducted by a group leader, who introduces them to relevant industry practices and regulations and teaches the skills needed to analyse market data.

For brokers working in the securities and foreign exchange markets, the Securities and Futures Commission requires all practitioners handling transactions to pass licensing examinations. Those dealing in the gold market can start as Form Five graduates, provided they have passes in Chinese, English and mathematics.

Mr Shum points out that the company plans to reinforce its team in order to keep pace with the expected growth of the economy and says that they are also considering expansion into the mainland market. There are ongoing recruitment programmes to attract the best talent and major training programmes for new staff.

"A strong workforce is inevitably the most important capital for the future development of the company as well as the industry," Mr Shum concludes.

Taken from Career Times 22 April 2005, p. 18
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