The Star Malaysia - Star2
The finance degree option
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.ucsiuniversity.edu.my/ onlineenquiry
You can also contact the Enrolment Call Centre at 03-9101 8882 or e-mail www.ucsiuniversity. edu.my/onlineenquiry
Alternatively, visit the faculty’s website at http://www.ucsiuniversity. edu.my/fobis/