Ethical standards are becoming just as important to employers in the investment sector as competency in key areas. "In order to stay competitive, investment professionals have to uphold ethical and professional standards, and provide clients with relevant, professional and credible advice," says Ashvin Vibhakar, managing director of Asia-Pacific operations at the Chartered Financial Analyst CFA) Institute.
"They need to [constantly communicate] in order to build trust; possess consummate job knowledge and skills; and be committed to lifelong learning, such as examining the latest investment products and tools."
Vibhakar, who holds a CFA qualification, says ethics and professional standards are at the core of the CFA charter.
Holders of the charter are required to place clients' interests above their own and this attention to ethics is raising employers' competitive advantage and contributing to the long-term health of the investment sector.
Vibhakar will be speaking at the "How to succeed in the rewarding but competitive finance and investment industry" seminar on October 12 at the Prince Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. It is organised by the CFA Institute and Classified Post, with support from the Hong Kong Society of Financial Analysts.
Four other speakers will be featured: Richard Mak, CFA, managing director and regional head of advisory at BNP Paribas Wealth Management (Asia); Lee Yin-toa, CFA, partner and financial accounting advisory leader of Ernst & Young, financial services (Far East Asia); James Hong, CFA, CEO, Credit Suisse Hong Kong Branch; and Andrew Tsui, chairman of Korn/Ferry International Hong Kong.
They will explain the complexities of the modern financial services sector. "The competitive nature of the industry, especially following the financial crisis, makes it even more vital that practitioners secure competitive advantage in terms of professional credentials and competency for a successful and rewarding career," Vibhakar says.
"Governments and regulatory bodies are emphasising investor protection, corporate governance, as well as financial market integrity and transparency.
"At the same time, financial institutions are rebuilding their brands and reputation, focusing on being trustworthy and responsible to investors."
The seminar comes at an appropriate time for job candidates and is targeted at those passionate about the finance and investment industry, and determined to succeed in it. Attendees will learn how to increase their value to employers, learn how the CFA programme can advance their career aspirations, and have the opportunity to speak to senior industry practitioners who are CFA charter holders.
The CFA programme is regarded as the most rigorous credential in the industry. It provides candidates with professional knowledge, and its charter is globally recognised.
The institute has witnessed strong growth in exam registrations in the Asia-Pacific region, with 83,012 applicants from the area for the exams held in December last year and June of this year. The number accounts for 41.1 per cent of total registrations worldwide.
The mainland made up 27 per cent of the Asia-Pacific total, while Hong Kong contributed 12.1 per cent.
There is also a growing number of CFA charter holders in the region - up from 2,319 in 2000 to 14,059, as of August 31 this year.
This increase is in line with the growth of Asia's financial markets, with the mainland and India leading the way.
"As the marketplace becomes more competitive, employers recognise the CFA charter as a reliable way to differentiate the most qualified, up-to-date, and determined job applicants," Vibhakar says.
The CFA programme is a graduate-level self-study programme which combines a broad-based curriculum of investment principles with professional conduct requirements.
It is designed to prepare individuals for a wide range of investment specialties that apply in financial markets worldwide.
In order to become a CFA charter holder, candidates are required to pass three levels of exams sequentially; meet the professional and ethical requirements; accumulate four years of relevant work experience; and become a regular member of the CFA Institute.