Forum tackles finance sector challenges

Mirror Fung

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Developing financial professionals to meet the challenges arising from rapid economic integration with the mainland was the focus of a forum at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) on 1 November.

The forum was titled “Increasing economic integration between Hong Kong and mainland China: Opportunities and challenges for Hong Kong finance professionals”, and it was organised by the Advisory Committee on Human Resources Development in the Financial Services Sector (FinMan Committee), HKSAR, and the College of Business, CityU.

In his opening address, Professor Paul Lam Kwan-sing, Vice-President (Student Affairs) of CityU, said it is very important for Hong Kong to maintain its unique features and characteristics and remain useful to China.

Mr Edward Kwan Pak-chung, Chairman of the FinMan Committee, said the forum aimed to bring together industry practitioners and academia to share their insights on how to enrich the talent pool of our financial sector.

“Human capital is the key to the development of Hong Kong as the international financial centre and capital formation centre for China,” he said.

Keynote speaker Professor K C Chan, Secretary of Financial Services and the Treasury of the HKSAR, shared his views on how we should “regulate the industry in the wake of the global financial crisis”.

Most people agreed that poor financial regulation in Western countries had led to the global financial crisis in 2008, he said, but it was important to set priorities and not to overreact.

“We need a structural fix in Western economies and an adoption of pro-growth fiscal policies that can help restore public trust,” Professor Chan said. “In the last couple of years, political dialogue has become more protectionist in tone. We should ensure that voices defending the free market continue to be heard because economic development will provide opportunities for more people.”

Addressing a question which has a direct bearing on Hong Kong: “are we too dependent on the financial sector at the expense of other sectors”, Professor Chan said “there are currently over 220,000 people in Hong Kong working in the financial industry in around 10,000 companies.”

“The financial industry employs about 6.2 per cent of the work force and contributes more than 15 per cent of our GDP.”

“Its importance goes beyond numbers and figures about employment or GDP contribution.” Professor Chan said.

“It has the potential to raise the overall competitiveness of our economy and contributes to integration between Hong Kong and the mainland, which helps provide opportunities for all sectors in Hong Kong,” he said.

Following the keynote speech was a panel discussion moderated by Mr Andrew Tsui Pui-yan, Chairman (Hong Kong and Southern China), Korn/Ferry International.

Panel speakers included Professor Richard Ho Yan-ki, Chair Professor of Finance, Department of Economics and Finance, CityU, Mr David Lui Yin-tat, Vice Chairman, Bank of Communications Schroder Fund Management Company Limited, Mrs Dorothy Sit Yin-ping, Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive, Hang Seng Bank (China) Limited, Mr Philip Tsai Wing-chung, Audit Partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, and Dr Philip Zhai Pu, Managing Director, Investment Banking, China, J.P. Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Limited.

All participants agreed there is a greater need for talented personnel in the financial sector, especially in risk management and corporate governance, but they reminded students wanting to take up a career in the financial sector that competition is keen, and besides solid knowledge, they must possess a high EQ (emotional quotient). In addition, as the bond between Hong Kong and the mainland grows stronger, they should learn to appreciate different cultures.

Around 200 academics and students, including Professor Wei Kwok-kee, Dean of College of Business, attended the forum, the seventh event held under the Industry/Academia Collaboration on Nurturing Financial Talent Series.


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