FSDC job shadowing scheme nurtures finance talents for the future

Local | 29 Jun 2020 9:32 am

The FSDC Talent Amplifier Programme (TAP) offers tertiary students an invaluable opportunity to gain practical experiences and understanding of a specific sector in the financial services industry, under the guidance of senior executives in a real work environment.

Unemployment has reached a record high due to the severe impact of the coronavirus outbreak. With jobs cuts and internship withdrawals, university students face a reduction in professional opportunities to grow amid this challenging time.

This backdrop of unprecedented times coincided with the Financial Services Development Council (FSDC)’s recent launch of a pilot job shadowing scheme aimed at acquainting tertiary students with actual jobs in the finance industry.

In this newly-developed human capital initiative of FSDC, participating students gained a glimpse of the day-to-day challenges facing senior executives, and an appreciation of the culture and working environment of reputable organisations, through shadowing a group of senior executives from a financial institution for a full day in May and June this year. The hosting companies represent a good mix of the industry: asset management, banking, hedge fund and professional services.

Designed to support the financial services industry of Hong Kong in building a sustainable talent pool, the programme is open to undergraduate students of all disciplines coming from a diverse range of background and local tertiary institutions. Taking into account the academic results of the applicants, the selection criteria are also based on a host of their capabilities, including interpersonal and communication skills.

Valuable interaction with senior executives

Four students attended the programme hosted by Value Partners Group Limited, where they shadowed and interacted with Dr King Au, President of Value Partners, and other senior executives, for a day.

“The finance industry looks for people who excel in a dynamic environment as we encounter challenging market conditions and interact with diverse clients every day,” said Dr Au. “What I want students to take from the TAP is that a successful career in finance requires not only strong analytical and numeracy skills, but also the capability to work both independently and as a team player, not to mention outstanding interpersonal skills.”

Aside from a luncheon dialogue with Dr Au in which he shared his career experience with the students, highlights of the day include the insightful and interactive presentations given by Dr Au and his team, covering everything from industry landscape, market projection to global investment trends.

Tony Lee, who studies LLB at the City University of Hong Kong (CityU), shared his experience: “I’ve gained valuable insights through engaging with industry professionals in the real world that I’d like to share this unique experience with schoolmates back in the campus, and urge them to grab the opportunity when the next TAP comes up.”

Dynamic cross-departmental meetings

Some students partook in the FSDC’s TAP by shadowing senior executives of The Bank of East Asia, Limited (BEA).

Eric Yip, General Manager & Head of China Division at BEA, enlightened participants on developing the right attitude towards work. “Nowadays, school and work life share a commonality in lifelong learning,” Yip said. “You have to acquire new skills and meet new challenges head-on to drive your professional and personal growth.”

Participant Cecilia Chan, who is acquiring a BBA at the University of Hong Kong, got involved in the day-to-day operations of BEA, attending cross-departmental meetings that influence business decision making. She treasured her interactions with current BEA management trainees.

“FSDC’s TAP is a well-planned programme that gives students an overview of what corporate banking does in this day and age, and a chance to observe the daily operations of such a well-established bank as BEA,” said Chan.

Thomas Tsui, General Manager & Head of Corporate Banking Division at BEA, appreciated that Chan possessed an analytical mind and was capable of communicating across different sectors of banking management.

Sharing of career and life journey

Throughout the 1-day programme at CSOP Asset Management Limited, students received on-the-job training by the operation team, and shadowed Ding Chen, Chief Executive Officer of CSOP.

Providing career planning advice to students, Ding said, “You should get prepared for the workplace as soon as possible – that entails looking beyond textbooks and gaining first-hand experience of business operations, through which you can sort out your own interest and map your career path.”

Keith Chan, who studies Accountancy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), said, “I’m especially grateful to the quantitative team at CSOP for introducing me to modeling and building customer portfolios.”

Matt Wong, a BBA student at the University of Science and Technology, shared, “The high point of today’s programme is the inspiration we gain from top executives who shared their personal stories with us – how they transit between jobs and pursue their dreams are handy references for us in overcoming hurdles in life.”

Practical job interview tips

For the students who attended the programme hosted by Optimas Capital Limited, they had an early start. Arriving at Optimas’ office at 7:30 am to join the company’s morning brief meeting, they also had lunch and an up-close conversation with Thomas Wong, Founder & Chief Investment Officer of Optimas, regarding job interview skills and career planning.

As the employment market has taken a hard hit due to Covid-19, Wong offered students solid advice on how to weather the storm. “You should maintain a positive mindset. It’s crucial to be flexible and open-minded, and seize every opportunity out there to gain first-hand job experience.”

Asad Ali, a Pakistan student studying BBA at CityU, leveraged the opportunity the TAP provided to see and experience the nuances of how financial service is provided.

“Mr Wong and other professionals at Optimas are friendly and willing to communicate with me in English; I also got along very well with other fellow students,” he said. “The TAP is an inclusive programme that champions diversity, and I’m able to glean a lot of practical knowledge from this well-organized initiative.” 

Phoebe Cheng, who studies Accountancy at CUHK, stresses that the one-day TAP programme was fruitful and delivered values that exceeded her expectation.

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