It used to be said that a respectable golf handicap was the main qualification for a job in private banking, but those days are long gone.
Now, anyone looking to forge a career in the sector must have an in-depth understanding of complex financial products and continue to acquire the professional credentials to prove it.
That is especially important in a city like Hong Kong, where ambitions to expand as a global financial centre depend on maintaining the highest standards and developing the right kind of talent.
With those goals in mind, the Hong Kong Securities Institute (HKSI) has just introduced a new professional qualification with a strong practical focus.
The certified international wealth manager (CIWM) diploma is global in terms of curriculum, teaching and outlook.
It is designed for experienced financial, legal and other professionals who already work in the sector, such as private bankers, asset managers, compliance officers and financial planners.
"The programme was developed by highly qualified academics and practitioners appointed by the Swiss-based [Association of International Wealth Management]," says SF Wong, chief executive of HKSI.
"The course combines theory and practice, and offers candidates the tools and techniques to help them succeed in the world of private wealth management," Wong adds.
Launched locally in May with a series of information sessions, the course covers subjects such as behavioural finance, real estate valuation and analysis, relationship management, and international and domestic wealth planning.
The next series of information session will be on July 14.
According to Wong, the various modules integrate results of the most recent research and interpretation of the latest economic events.
"All the courses are taught by seasoned instructors with practical experience or who are recognised as specialists and experts in their chosen field," he says.
"Thorough coverage of the curriculum material and dedicated support from the HKSI faculty will ensure comprehensive preparation for the final examination."
Applicants should have at least three years' work experience and hold a finance- or investment-related degree from a recognised university.
Exceptions are considered on a case-to-case basis.
Once enrolled, candidates receive recommended reading lists, and software that simulates portfolio management. They also get access to a database of case studies dealing with legal, tax and wealth planning issues.
The various course modules entail 24 study sessions with a total of 84 lecture hours, though a "self-study" option is also available.
"We hope this new initiative will help enhance Hong Kong's position as a leading international wealth management centre," Wong says.
"This is one of the fastest growing sectors in the financial industry in Hong Kong and around the world. We plan to introduce more related courses in the near future," he adds.