CFA pro­gram helps na­tion’s fi­nan­cial in­dus­try achieve sus­tain­able growth

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By ZHOU LANXU [email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

An in­creas­ing num­ber of qual­i­fied fi­nan­cial pro­fes­sion­als in China, sup­ported by the CFA Pro­gram, are help­ing the in­dus­try to achieve sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment, said Bjorn For­fang, deputy CEO of the CFA In­sti­tute, the global as­so­ci­a­tion of in­vest­ment man­age­ment pro­fes­sion­als.

“Get­ting CFA des­ig­na­tion is not just good for your ca­reer, but helps build a more sus­tain­able fi­nan­cial busi­ness in China,” For­fang told China Daily.

The CFA In­sti­tute is known for its CFA Pro­gram, which grants the CFA char­ter, a des­ig­na­tion glob­ally rec­og­nized as the gold stan­dard in in­vest­ment man­age­ment. To be­come CFA char­ter­hold­ers, can­di­dates must sat­isfy a series of re­quire­ments, in­clud­ing pass­ing three lev­els of ex­ams and ob­tain­ing four years of rel­e­vant work ex­pe­ri­ence.

China is the fastest-grow­ing mar­ket for the CFA Pro­gram, with the num­ber of Chi­nese can­di­dates ris­ing 20-30 per­cent an­nu­ally. In June 2018, more than 50,000 can­di­dates in the main­land and Hong Kong took one of the three ex­ams, ac­count­ing for around 30 per­cent of global can­di­dates.

The in­creas­ing pres­ence of the CFA Pro­gram in China, For­fang said, can pro­vide fi­nan­cial pro­fes­sion­als not only with high tech­ni­cal skills, but also a strong com­mit­ment to eth­i­cal be­hav­iors and pro­fes­sional stan­dards, “the key to long-term sus­tain­able busi­ness”.

For in­stance, by plac­ing clients’ in­ter­ests above all oth­ers, CFA char­ter­hold­ers could pave the way for the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of China’s fast-grow­ing but con­tro­ver­sial fin­tech sec­tor, he said.

The flour­ish­ing fin­tech sec­tor has spawned in­no­va­tions that pro­vide a wider range of Chi­nese cus­tomers with fi­nan­cial ser­vices. Some of the sec­tor’s bright prospects, how­ever, are clouded by the com­plex­i­ties of fi­nan­cial prod­ucts and vi­o­la­tions of cus­tomers’ in­ter­ests.

A big prob­lem in the global fi­nance in­dus­try, For­fang said, is some fi­nan­cial pro­fes­sion­als con­sider the in­ter­ests of their com­pa­nies — in­stead of clients — their most im­por­tant ob­jec­tive, and hence cause in­ap­pro­pri­ate com­plex­i­ties, mis-sell­ing and hid­den fees.

“We be­lieve the more CFA char­ter­hold­ers you have, the fewer of these is­sues (of dent­ing clients’ in­ter­ests) you have,” he said, cit­ing that ethics is the core of the CFA cur­ricu­lum, and CFA char­ter­hold­ers sign off an­nu­ally that they fol­low the Stan­dards of Pro­fes­sional Con­duct, which re­quires they put clients’ in­ter­ests first.

As a gold stan­dard rec­og­nized world­wide, the CFA Pro­gram could fa­cil­i­tate China’s fi­nan­cial open­ing-up, For­fang added. “As China is open­ing up and be­com­ing more of an in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial mar­ket­place, I think the need for pro­fes­sion­als who are con­nected to the larger world is huge.”

Speak­ing of Chi­nese can­di­dates’ fea­tures, For­fang high­lighted a bet­ter gen­der bal­ance: about half of them are fe­male, sig­nif­i­cantly higher than the global av­er­age of 30 per­cent.

The di­ver­gence is sure to help China’s fi­nance in­dus­try to achieve higher di­ver­sity to op­ti­mize in­vest­ments and more trust be­tween ad­vis­ers and clients, the ma­jor­ity of whom are fe­male, he said.

“Ob­tain­ing the CFA des­ig­na­tion en­abled my key ca­reer tran­si­tion of be­com­ing a trader,” Zhai Chenxi, CFA, vice-pres­i­dent of Hubei-based TF Se­cu­ri­ties, said at a fo­rum.

Chi­nese can­di­dates can grasp the uni­ver­sal knowl­edge sys­tem of fi­nance through the CFA Pro­gram, Zhai said, but fur­ther work is needed to com­bine the knowl­edge with the lat­est de­vel­op­ments in China’s fi­nan­cial mar­kets.

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