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The fi­nance de­gree op­tion

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iN­TER­NA­TIONAL Mon­e­tary Fund man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Chris­tine La­garde said last Novem­ber: “More re­cently, dur­ing the dark days of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis, it was Asia that kept the flame alive, ac­count­ing for about two-thirds of global growth. Clearly, the mo­men­tum is here, the dy­namism is here, and the fu­ture starts here. Malaysia is a big part of this story.”

Th­ese words en­cap­su­late Malaysia’s ro­bust eco­nomic growth.

The fi­nan­cial ser­vices sec­tor is a key driver of this growth. By 2020, the sec­tor is tar­geted to raise Malaysia’s Gross Na­tional In­come (GNI) by a stag­ger­ing RM121.5bil.

Seiz­ing the fi­nance po­ten­tial

With the fore­sight that has made it a re­spected leader in pri­vate ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion, UCSI Univer­sity has seen the ca­reer po­ten­tial the fi­nan­cial sec­tor has for the new gen­er­a­tion.

Its Fac­ulty of Busi­ness and In­for­ma­tion Sci­ence has care­fully de­signed a range of pro­grammes that com­bines fi­nance with tra­di­tional in-de­mand de­gree of­fer­ings.

UCSI’s com­bi­na­tion of ac­tu­ar­ial and fi­nance-re­lated sub­jects is unique among pri­vate univer­si­ties. Its pro­grammes are the BSc (Hons) Ac­tu­ar­ial Sci­ence and Fi­nance, BSc (Hons) Fi­nance and In­vest­ment, BBA (Hons) Is­lamic Bank­ing and Fi­nance, and the BA (Hons) Ac­count­ing and Fi­nance.

“We hope to give our stu­dents an edge when they en­ter the work­ing world as they will have knowl­edge of fi­nance on top of the knowl­edge pro­vided by the tra­di­tional de­gree,” ex­plains Fac­ulty of Busi­ness and In­for­ma­tion Sci­ence dean Dr Toh Kian Kok.

This added ad­van­tage is timely. Ac­cord­ing to the Eco­nomic Trans­for­ma­tion Pro­gramme An­nual Report 2011, the fi­nan­cial ser­vices sec­tor is ex­pected to gen­er­ate 275,400 jobs by 2020.

“Our ad­di­tional ma­jor in fi­nance will also give our stu­dents the mo­bil­ity if they de­cide, upon en­ter­ing the work­ing world and see­ing the prospects, that they want to spe­cialise in fi­nance,” adds Dr Toh.

Ac­tu­ar­ial Sci­ence and Fi­nance

One of the most pop­u­lar de­grees of­fered by UCSI is the BSc (Hons) Ac­tu­ar­ial Sci­ence.

This makes sense as ca­reer prospects for ac­tu­ar­ies are ex­pected to in­crease by 27% from 2010 to 2020 – the high­est growth rate across all oc­cu­pa­tions – ac­cord­ing to the US Bureau of Labour Statis­tics.

Do­mes­ti­cally, the prospects are even greater given Malaysia’s short­age of ac­tu­ar­ies.

This is one of the main rea­sons Chan Min Zhuo de­cided to en­rol for UCSI’s BSc (Hons) Ac­tu­ar­ial Sci­ence pro­gramme.

Cur­rently in the first se­mes­ter of his third year, Chan un­der­stood on the out­set that the path to be­come an ac­tu­ary is not easy. In ad­di­tion to a de­gree, one must pass pro­fes­sional ex­am­i­na­tions and var­i­ous on-the-job as­sess­ments.

The jour­ney to be­come a qual­i­fied ac­tu­ary as out­lined by the So­ci­ety of Ac­tu­ar­ies (SOA), one of the most prom­i­nent pro­fes­sional or­gan­i­sa­tions for ac­tu­ar­ies in the world, is di­vided into stages.

The first is the Val­i­dated by Ed­u­ca­tional Ex­pe­ri­ence stage where stu­dents who re­ceive grades of 70% and above for sub­jects in eco­nom­ics, cor­po­rate fi­nance and ap­plied statis­tics will re­ceive credit for th­ese pro­fes­sional pa­pers.

The sec­ond stage in­volves five pre­lim­i­nary ex­ams that can­di­dates must pass be­fore pro­ceed­ing to the penul­ti­mate stage, namely, the Fun­da­men­tals of Ac­tu­ar­ial Prac­tices course and the As­so­ci­ate­ship Pro­fes­sion­al­ism Course (APC).

This will qual­ify them as an As­so­ciate of the So­ci­ety of Ac­tu­ar­ies (ASA).

The fi­nal hur­dle is to qual­ify as a Fel­low of the So­ci­ety of Ac­tu­ar­ies (FSA).

A re­cip­i­ent of the UCSI Trust Schol­ar­ships, he was one of the few lo­cal stu­dents who passed two of the five pre­lim­i­nary ex­ams re­quired when he was only in the first se­mes­ter of his sec­ond year.

“A stu­dent must have an in­ter­est in ac­tu­ar­ial sci­ence, oth­er­wise he or she will really suf­fer,” he says, de­tail­ing the fac­tors con­tribut­ing to his ex­cel­lent aca­demic per­for­mance.

“One must also be dis­ci­plined. I set my­self tar­gets of how much study­ing I needed to com­plete daily and I made sure I met those tar­gets.”

He notes, how­ever, that the guid­ance a stu­dent re­ceives from a lec­turer is an­other in­te­gral fac­tor which can make or break a stu­dent’s chance at cop­ing with the re­quire­ments of the course.

“I’m lucky, at UCSI, the batch of ac­tu­ar­ial sci­ence stu­dents is small. It is eas­ier to con­cen­trate in class and lec­tur­ers can give more per­sonal at­ten­tion in help­ing us through our in­di­vid­ual chal­lenges,” he con­tin­ues.

He quips that the small classes and help­ful lec­tur­ers made it eas­ier for stu­dents to “bom­bard them with ques­tions”.

He also cred­its the qual­ity study ma­te­ri­als in the univer­sity li­brary in help­ing him pre­pare for his ex­am­i­na­tions.

The pos­i­tive feed­back from Chan and his batch mates have en­cour- aged the univer­sity to launch the BSc (Hons) Ac­tu­ar­ial Sci­ence and Fi­nance de­gree.

The pro­gramme aims to pro­duce grad­u­ates with knowl­edge of risk man­age­ment in the fi­nan­cial sec­tors and mar­kets.

It also of­fers the sec­ond op­tion of a fi­nan­cial anal­y­sis-re­lated ca­reer devel­op­ment which is par­al­lel to the ad­vance­ment of pro­fes­sional stud­ies in the ac­tu­ar­ial field.

“The in­sight that fi­nance and ac­tu­ar­ial sci­ence would com­ple­ment each other came from our unique ar­range­ment of hav­ing the ac­tu­ar­ial sci­ence, fi­nance and busi­ness de­part­ments housed within the Fac­ulty of Busi­ness and In­for­ma­tion Sci­ence,” says Dr Toh.

His sen­ti­ments are elab­o­rated by Ac­tu­ar­ial Sci­ence and Ap­plied Statis­tics De­part­ment head Dr Ngerng Miang Hong.

“As a math­e­ma­ti­cian, I know that it will not do to fo­cus too nar­rowly on pure math­e­mat­ics. Through feed­back from my busi­ness and fi­nance col­leagues, we have de­signed a course which bet­ter meets in­dus­try needs while main­tain­ing our high aca­demic stan­dards,” Dr Ngerng says.

Dr Toh sums it up: “The global econ­omy is chang­ing. The field of fi­nance has never been more im­por­tant and our new of­fer­ings are de­signed to pro­vide stu­dents with a pro­fes­sional and per­sonal trans­for­ma­tion to help them excel.”

To find out more about UCSI Univer­sity’s fi­nance-re­lated de­grees, visit the Fac­ulty of Busi­ness and In­for­ma­tion Sci­ence from Mon­day to Satur­day (9am-5pm) for course coun­selling.

You may also con­tact the coun­sel­lors at 03-9101 8880 or e-mail www.uc­si­u­ni­ver­ on­li­neen­quiry

You can also con­tact the En­rol­ment Call Cen­tre at 03-9101 8882 or e-mail www.uc­si­u­ni­ver­sity.­li­neen­quiry

Al­ter­na­tively, visit the fac­ulty’s web­site at http://www.uc­si­u­ni­ver­sity.

 ??  ?? Dr Toh Kian Kok de­scribes the re­cently launched fi­nance-re­lated de­gree pro­grammes as ‘added fi­nan­cial knowl­edge on top of a trusted tra­di­tional de­gree’.
Dr Toh Kian Kok de­scribes the re­cently launched fi­nance-re­lated de­gree pro­grammes as ‘added fi­nan­cial knowl­edge on top of a trusted tra­di­tional de­gree’.

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