What factors did you consider when you decided to pursue the CFA® Program?
The factors I considered include the prestige attached to this globally recognised program, the vast opportunity for networking across different chapters, and its commitment to the highest level of business ethics and professionalism.
What got you interested in the risk management function?
I'd completed my undergraduate studies at the height of the Asian Financial Crisis and became intrigued by the volatility across various types of markets and how that affected the eventual profitability of financial institutions. Risk management was something virtually unheard of at that time; hence it was exciting to be part of the evolution and market developments.
What skill-set does the CFA Program equip a charterholder to excel in the risk management industry?
The extensive curriculum of the CFA Program covers technical knowledge across all asset groups — fixed income, equity, corporate finance, and derivatives, to name a few. This is imperative given that an effective risk manager needs to be able to fully understand the products and markets to accurately assess corresponding risks. The program equips a risk manager with expertise in the business side of markets; without this a risk manager would be a theorist and not a practitioner.
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How relevant is the CFA Program to those working in risk management industry? How does your company/department recognize the CFA® designation?
The CFA Program is extremely relevant in that it gives one insights into the investment world, without which a risk manager would not have the know-how to even begin identifying the risks, let alone measure and manage them. My company strongly encourages continual learning and personal development, and the CFA Program is at the top of the list. Students are given days off to study and attend classes while annual fees are also finally supported.
What changes do you see in the industry, globally, in the next three to five years?
The traditional brick-and-mortar banking scene is quickly metamorphosing into a digital animal utilising big data for decision making. The move from backwards-looking risk reporting to intraday positions forecasting has already begun and is gaining momentum by the day. As markets are moving faster than before, an effective risk manager's role would be to foresee the speed bumps ahead and start executing action plans prior to hitting them.
What were some of the challenges in your role and how did you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges is the ability to sieve out relevant data from the deluge of information available, and then to dissect them into useful outputs which can bring value to business decision making. Using the quantitative and financial analysis skills leant from the CFA Program, I am able to recognise the important touchpoints, analyse the data in a cohesive manner, and present an appropriate call to action.
What was the most confounding ethical situation you encountered in your career; how did being a CFA® charterholder help you to navigate that?
Being a risk manager, there is often a very fine balance between the organisation's profitability and the risk undertaken. The CFA Program has instilled in me the highest level of ethics in order to ensure that this balance is maintained and that personal integrity is never compromised.
What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership role in finance, particularly in terms of keeping a work-life balance?
Don't stop learning — make time to invest in your own personal development especially when you are just starting out on your career. Learning does not mean just studying for the CFA Program but continuous education to keep yourself abreast of current market developments.
Disclaimer: The content was written in July 2021 and the video was taken in April 2021. 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.