Stoyan Stoyanov, PhD, professor of finance at EDHEC Business School, talks to eFinancialCareers about the growing hiring appetite for professionals in risk and investment management in Asia.
Here’s where the action is
We have been seeing demand in Asia across all risk functions – including credit, operations and market. The need for such professionals is due to the current global economic turmoil. Before the financial crisis, risk was seen as passive and less important, but financial institutions are now realising its significance. The economy is so integrated that problems can propagate; this makes risk roles even more important and interesting because of the globalisation of markets.
Asia is developing and growing. As its markets mature, firms are increasingly offering more complex and sophisticated solutions, which will necessitate the need for improved skills. I expect to see continued growth in wealth management and investment management as a result.
Correspondingly, we’ve seen an increase in the initial number of applications for our MSc in risk and investment management, even though we just set up our Singapore campus last year. So far we have about 80 applicants, even though our target cohort is between 15 to 25 students. Applicants come from Asia as well as from the West. Most of them come from the banking sector. Some are already in risk management; others are in investment banking, credit and wealth management.
We do see a number of applicants who want to move from back office to front office. Then there are others who want to switch from banking into hedge funds. The course in risk management looks at alternative investments, portfolio construction, risk budgets, and asset liability management. It basically gets people to look at things from both the top down and the bottom up, which can help facilitate such moves.
While our first intake is still in class, I think the financial industry on the whole is quite dynamic and there are opportunities to switch sectors, especially in Asia, which is a very promising environment.
So far there haven’t been many applicants from outside the financial sector. We do have one from an engineering background who wants to learn more about financial markets. We’ve also had professionals with a consulting or accounting background, but those jobs aren’t completely alien to finance.
Career lessons of my own
Before EDHEC, I was working as the head of research at a software company, FinAnalytica, which specialises in portfolio construction in risk management. I had the opportunity to work with many institutions, including banks, hedge funds and asset managers. I think what helps in career development is building a very broad base of knowledge. So that means being open minded and being willing to try new techniques and solutions.
My advice for individuals who want to do well in the industry would be to grow your skills and stay informed. I think in finance it’s easy for people to be very focussed in one area, so there can be a tendency to take it easy. That’s not a good idea since the sector is very dynamic; you can get left behind if you don’t stay competitive.