Recent government figures indicated that 475,932 people were employed in finance-related industries in the second quarter of 2006, representing an increase of 4.1 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Clearly various factors have influenced this, including listings on the local stock market, steady merger and acquisition activity, and the continuing expansion of the financial planning industry. In order to help meet the general demand for professionals with recognised qualifications, the School of Continuing Education (SCE) at Hong Kong Baptist University has launched a programme to equip people with the basic skills to break into the sector.
As academic adviser Keith Lai explains, the law now requires everyone aiming to work as a securities and futures intermediary to satisfy the basic requirement of the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) by passing the licensing exam. The SCE's preparatory programme therefore provides students with a solid understanding of local financial markets, as well as systematic training to get through the examination.
"We basically focus on papers one, seven and eight," Mr Lai says. "The first is an overview of the legal and regulatory framework for the securities and futures industry in Hong Kong, while the other two provide comprehensive coverage of the local securities and financial markets." Most of the teaching is done in lectures, but students can also contact the faculty or individual teachers by email if they have any particular questions.
He points out that the programme is especially useful for recent graduates or people looking to change jobs or career direction. The right qualifications ensure a competitive edge when approaching potential employers. "We believe the course is especially beneficial for back-office staff interested in a frontline position, or people looking to perform more effectively in their current role," Mr Lai says.