Lifelong learning the key to success
A successful career in the finance industry is more likely to be achieved because of careful preparation. According to Lee Yin-toa, Ernst & Young's partner and financial advisory leader (Far East), financial professionals need to be open-minded, embrace new ideas and commit to being lifetime students.
Lee offered advice to attendees at the "How to Succeed in the Rewarding but Competitive Finance and Investment Industry" seminar co-organised by the CFA Institute and Classified Post. He said: "There are many opportunities to build a successful career in finance. You don't necessarily need to spend 20 or 30 years to become a product expert or a specialist in a particular area."
Lee said preparation is a process that requires constantly searching for new ideas and taking initiatives that introduce concepts that benefit clients and the finance industry.
"Because of competition and high expectations within the finance industry to succeed, it is extremely important to equip yourself with knowledge that is necessary to stay up-to-date," said Lee, who is also a CFA charter holder. "Qualifying for a CFA charter is not the end of a process - it is the beginning of a life-long commitment to constantly learn more and keep on improving."
He said the changing dynamics of the finance industry is creating room for professionals to develop specialised skills based on clients and the holistic impact of tax, accounting and regulatory changes. There is also the potential to develop sophisticated investment products designed for the Asian market, he said.
"Rather than work for a large global investment bank, there is the opportunity to innovate tailor-made products relevant to the local market," Lee said.
Financial innovation has been perceived as a non-Asian concept, but as a major financial centre, Hong Kong could take the lead in this area, he said. The city could play a leading role in developing yuan products. Other opportunities are cropping up, as financial institutions strengthen their products and services to cater to demand from the rising affluent middle-class and high-net-worth individuals. "Doing the right thing for your clients is vital and also promotes the overall benefits the industry can offer," Lee said.
Individuals should examine themselves closely and question their motivation before joining the finance industry, Lee said. "If the main driver is short-term financial gain rather than a passion to succeed professionally and personally, the finance industry many not be the best career choice," he said.