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Eric H.Y. Koh, CFA

Senior Lecturer

University of Malaya

Eric is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Finance and Banking, Faculty of Business and Accountancy, at the University of Malaya. He has earned a PhD and the CFA® charter, and is a Fellow of the accounting body CPA Australia. He offers a unique blend of practical experience and academic credentials, having had senior management experience in the banking industry. Eric’s passion for education has seen him guide the University’s CFA Institute Research Challenge team, facilitate various academic and professional courses, and publish in international peer-reviewed journals.

“I believe everyone has unique strengths and gifts that are waiting to be discovered and nurtured.”


How would you describe yourself?

I am passionate about helping people learn and develop their true potential. I try my best to blend industry insights with academic foundations so as to pursue and facilitate effective, holistic, and meaningful learning. I believe everyone has unique strengths and gifts that are waiting to be discovered and nurtured. Hence, we should learn to appreciate each person as a unique and wonderfully-made creation. We should leverage his or her strengths and endeavor to engage and encourage people to learn to the best of their abilities. I also believe that multifaceted approaches are often applicable because in many cases, no one single angle or study area can address all the pertinent aspects. We should not be too quick to dismiss ideas but should instead encourage people to share their thoughts.


Why did you pursue a career in academia?

I am very grateful to my parents, and the many teachers and lecturers who have taught, advised, and guided me. They have touched, motivated, and inspired me in various ways. Hence, I would like to help motivate people to discover the joy of learning and to do my bit in their competency development journeys. Prior to joining academia, I took on roles in external audit, banking, and professional development. I hope my prior industry experience helps me impart knowledge to students in a more meaningful and effective way.


What were your reasons for undertaking the CFA® Program?

I wanted to pursue a postgraduate study program. Some friends recommended the CFA Program because it is of high quality, rigorous, and practical. The curriculum equips me with a broader and more contemporary perspective of finance matters. It was a very challenging journey because the CFA Program curriculum coverage was very wide, rigorous, and technically complex. Balancing the study requirements and long working hours was challenging and at times, draining. I think it is important to be disciplined and to study regularly rather than cramming over a short period of time. It takes time to truly digest and understand most of the materials. One needs to go beyond memorization; instead, one should aim to understand the key concepts and connect the various components of the curriculum to the bigger picture.


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What is your involvement with CFA Society Malaysia to date?

I have served as my University team’s Faculty Advisor for several years. This helps me bond with young people who are serious to make an impact in their profession and the society. It is both enriching and joyful to help them connect the dots from their undergraduate studies, link this knowledge with real-world matters, develop their characters, and maximize their true potential. It is both challenging and enriching to help students through the steep learning curve, which encompasses a myriad of technical and soft skills. The relationship I develop with these students gets much more personal and meaningful, over and above what is experienced in big class settings. And these relationships grow over the years.

Besides, I am also fortunate to have developed cordial ties with some of the Society’s passionate members who willingly and generously share their industry knowledge with my students, be it in connection with the CFA Institute Research Challenge or even during guest speaker series in classes.


What is your work or life motto?

To add value to the extent that I can. Sure, society is made up of many different people with many different needs all the time. I cannot possibly be everything for everyone. But during my limited lifespan or working years, I strive to do the best I can to help people learn effectively, holistically, joyfully, and meaningfully.


Which book has influenced you most, especially in relation to investing?

Probably Robert C. Higgins on analysis for financial management and Frank K. Reilly on investments. They provide very clear and incisive thoughts on key financial and investment management concepts in a meaningful manner.


What is the favorite part of your job? What is the most challenging?

I love to interact with students who come from different backgrounds and who are at different stages of their lives. I have opportunities to help contribute towards making their learning journeys more effective and meaningful. I believe that I have an opportunity to help them maximize their full potential despite whatever personal and environmental inadequacies they may have.

But understanding and dealing with the various backgrounds and issues is a huge challenge. At times, I get frustrated and tired when I do not get responses or when I sense lackadaisical attitudes. Sometimes, my good intentions may be misunderstood or unappreciated perhaps because the execution could have been done better. Nonetheless, I try to remind myself to be energized by the broader goal of helping students learn. And to do that, I need to continuously understand myself and the students better, and seek ways to maximize their learning experience. Besides, we have many other time-consuming responsibilities which many may not be aware of, such as research, publishing, and administrative matters.


Having been a lecturer for so many years, how has the landscape of tertiary education changed over the years? Has technology changed the way we learn and consume knowledge?

I am still fairly new in academia, having previously been mainly in the banking industry. Nonetheless, I see some key developments as follows. Research-based study programs are getting more rigorous as more complex studies and methodologies emerge. The taught programs have to be more engaging as the learners are overwhelmed and often distracted by both the high volumes of knowledge and competing noises demanding their attention.

There is much greater use of technology (both in intensity and variety) to facilitate knowledge acquisition and sharing. Technology, if used positively, enhances the learning process. But at the same time, if used wrongly, it may distract people and make the learning process more passive and shallower.


Tell us your proudest moment to date.

I beam with joy when some students tell me I helped raise their awareness of real-life matters, spur them towards realizing their true potential, and integrate or enhance their learning journeys. Sometimes, a rough day is drastically turned to bountiful joy when a student tells me how I have positively changed his or her mindset, attitude or character beyond imagination.


What are your hopes for our next generation of talents?

I hope they will view learning beyond a passive, short-term, and superficial lens. I hope they will instead find their learning journeys so joyful and meaningful that they truly learn (both individually and collaboratively) in a continuous manner and contribute to society in enduring ways.


Disclaimer: The content was written in March 2019. Information, views, opinions, and recommendations expressed belong to the interviewees thereof. They do not necessarily reflect the views of CFA Society Malaysia. In no event shall CFA Society Malaysia be liable for any damages resulting from their opinions.

Be inspired by CFA® charterholders and learn how their achievements can guide your career path.


Be inspired by CFA® charterholders and learn how their achievements can guide your career path.