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Speech by SFST at Welcoming Ceremony of Financial Services Career Exhibition (English only) (with photo)

    Following is a speech by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Frederick Ma, at the Welcoming Ceremony of the Forum of Industry/Academia Collaboration on Nurturing Financial Talent Series III: Financial Services Career Exhibition today (October 27):(English only)

Professor Demokan, TC, Professor Davis, distinguished guests, fellow students, ladies and gentlemen,

     It gives me great pleasure to join you today at this welcoming ceremony of the Financial Services Career Exhibition, co-organised by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the Advisory Committee on Human Resources Development in the Financial Services Sector (the FinMan Committee).

     I am excited to learn that some 40 organisations are participating in this exhibition. They are all leading companies and renowned professional bodies of Hong Kong's financial services. I am glad to see that all our financial regulators have also joined hands in this worthy cause of nurturing financial talent for Hong Kong. The enthusiastic response from all of you testifies to how well our financial market is doing, and that our various counterparts in the sector are looking for talent to fit into their expansion plans.

     In 2005, 5.3% of our workforce, or about 180,000 people, worked in the financial services sector and the sector contributes to over 12% of our GDP, making it one of the major pillars of Hong Kong's economy. Over the years, local universities have served as an important breeding ground for the sector's "new blood". Nowadays, over 3,000 students graduate from business faculties of different universities in Hong Kong every year. This exhibition serves as a very good platform for the leading companies in the sector to share with students the qualities that they are looking for and demonstrates one of the many facets for the sector to collaborate with academia in nurturing financial talent.

     As the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, I have witnessed various major developments of our financial market in recent years. As many students here are eyeing a career in the financial services sector, it might be useful for you to take note of these developments when you prepare to start your careers in financial services.

     First and foremost, Hong Kong has established itself as the premier capital formation centre and gateway for channelling capital for the Mainland. The financial firms are looking for talent with good knowledge of the Mainland to help them tap the huge business opportunities there. Knowing the ins and outs of the Mainland market and being able to work and communicate with Mainland counterparts effectively will certainly give you a head start.

     Hong Kong is a major asset management centre and the momentum of growth is fuelled by the high domestic savings in the region and the growing number of high-net-worth individuals on the Mainland. A recent survey commissioned by the Securities and Futures Commission reveals that when it comes to choosing investment advisers, 74% of the investors would look at their market knowledge. This highlights the importance of professional knowledge in the financial services sector. Never expect others to entrust you to manage their assets unless you are knowledgeable about the market.

     The Enron and Worldcom sagas remind the international financial community of the importance of good Corporate Governance (CG). We are also striving to enhance our CG regime and we rely on professionals such as accountants, auditors and company secretaries as gate-keepers to ensure a sound CG standards in Hong Kong. The community has high expectations of the professionals in terms of integrity and accountability. Students who aspire to enter such professions should be prepared to live up to these expectations and uphold the professional ethnics.

     Hong Kong is a highly globalised financial market. According to another survey conducted by the Securities and Futures Commission in 2005, 63% of the assets in the fund management business originated from overseas investors. In the stock market, overseas investors also account for about 36% of the turnover. A globalised market like Hong Kong requires talents who are acquainted with the development of international financial markets, and are able to respond swiftly to the fast-changing global financial landscape. International vision and adaptability are therefore key to a successful career. Needless to say, good communication skills, in particular in English and Putonghua, are essential.

     The continued success of Hong Kong as an international financial centre is in the hands of aspiring young people. The qualities I outlined above are only part of the core attributes that might win you an admission ticket to the financial world and I am sure you will find out more at this exhibition. I would like to thank Poly U and the FinMan Committee, under the leadership of TC, for their efforts in organising this meaningful event. I also wish all of you every success in your pursuit of careers in the financial services sector, which I can tell you from my personal experience is a most rewarding one.

     Thank you.

Ends/Friday, October 27, 2006
Issued at HKT 16:50