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The calm before the approaching storm?
Nick Walker
update on Saturday, October 22, 2011
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Are looming troubled times driving more people to become qualified fund managers and intermediaries? Apparently not, experts say.

"So far we have not seen any major change in the enrolment figures for our licensing examinations," says SF Wong, chief executive of the Hong Kong Securities Institute (HKSI), an independent professional organisation appointed by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) to develop and administer licensing examinations for the financial industry.

All licensed persons - representatives and responsible officers - carrying out so-called regulated activities (RA) are required to pass the relevant examinations and fulfil other requirements as stipulated by the SFC for licensing purposes.

Despite the static enrolment figures at HKSI, such qualifications are certainly an option for job-hunters, assuming that they have the appropriate skill-sets and professional interests.

"Usually, a fund manager is required to hold an RA9 licence, qualifying that individual to work in asset management. Depending on corporate structure, management process and actual involvement, the individual may need to hold other licences, such as an RA1 for dealing in securities, and an RA4 for advising on securities," says Wong.

"In June, the SFC introduced the new RA10 licence for providing credit rating services - specifically, for credit rating analysts working in credit rating agencies [here]."

The SFC is feeling the chilly winds of uncertain times. Speaking in Singapore at the end of September, the chairman of Hong Kong's SFC, Dr Eddy Fong, said that Asian nations should take a pragmatic approach in adopting the package of global financial regulatory reforms aimed at addressing shortcomings exposed by economic woes in the West.

"This pragmatic, sensible and proven approach has served Asian countries, including Hong Kong, well over the years," he said. "Likewise, in considering financial reforms, Asian nations would do well to adopt and adapt international regulatory reform initiatives, as appropriate, and in initiating their own reforms to address specific local regulatory issues," he added.

Equally important, Fong stressed the need for Asia to have a voice in shaping global regulatory reforms.

"Asian nations must continue to actively engage their counterparts in the West through participation in various standard-setting bodies and international organisations, such as the Financial Stability Board," the head of Hong Kong's financial market watchdog said.

"This would enable Asian nations to better understand the functioning of global financial markets and new regulatory concerns, such as systemic risks associated with shadow banking and [over-the-counter] derivatives market, as well as to avoid making the same mistakes in the future," he suggested.

Apparently, the SFC is bracing itself for a period of ambiguity. In such times, securing marketable qualifications is more important than ever, as steady enrolment in HKSI's courses shows. Figures are likely to rise in the future.

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