As the financial services industry continues to expand and create work opportunities, job-seekers could well secure themselves an edge over the competition with a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification.
"If someone is working on the CFA, it shows that they have a drive and a desire for success," says Richard Mak, CFA, a board member of the Hong Kong Society of Financial Analysts (HKSFA).
"It shows that they are hungry and eager to learn," adds Mak, who is also managing director and regional head of advisory at BNP Paribas Wealth Management (Asia), and one of the speakers at the October 12 seminar "How to succeed in the rewarding but competitive finance and investment industry".
Widely recognised as the global passport to the financial services industry, the CFA is an indication of the holder's experience level and knowledge base. However, according to Mak, the key issue is the application of that knowledge to one's profession.
"The CFA provides a broad base of knowledge that can help the holder progress in his career, not just in the immediate term, but also in the long-term. It is not a specialist programme, it is a generalist programme," he says.
While employers generally prefer experienced candidates who can get to work straight away without requiring any training, there is a limited supply of these people.
"The industry is expanding and there is a need to find new talent," Mak says.
He adds that they are likely to come from either the ranks of the fresh graduates or those looking for a mid-career change. In both cases, the CFA would be a plus point.
In addition to the analytical skills provided by the CFA, Mak advises job-seekers to hone their soft skills, including presentation and communication skills, emotional quotient and the ability to handle clients.
Hong Kong's wealth management industry is booming, with many private banking operations hiring strongly to fulfil their ambitious expansion plans.
According to Mak, while the traditional asset management and banking industries are still growing, they are not as labour intensive as wealth management, which needs more staff.
However, he warned that working in finance is not everyone's cup of tea. "Is it something that you like to do? If you just come into the office, do the work and go home, you will be frustrated after five years."
"Don't rush to take the CFA. Learn more about the industry first. Is it something that you really want to do? Why are you keen? What makes you excited? What drives you? It cannot just be about the money," Mak says.