Why did you decide to pursue CFA® Program even after obtaining ACCA?
During my ACCA, I chose financial management as one of my optional papers with the intention of paving the way for CFA Program, if I ever decided I was up for another professional qualification.
I did the CFA Program because I recognised that there was much to learn from the qualification and that the knowledge would help me in my career. I think this coupled with the prestige of getting the CFA® charter prompted me to take it up.
How did it feel when you obtained your CFA charter?
I think it was with mixed feelings that I received the CFA charter. It marked the end of a journey and yet the beginning of a new one. While I do sincerely believe that education is a never-ending journey, I also felt that it was time for a break from the exams after a good 20-odd years of toiling, to allow for more focus on my career and self-directed learning along the way.
In your experience, how challenging was it to earn the CFA charter?
I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my grades and exams, and of course with this hard-to-die habit, I bring a lot of unnecessary stress onto myself. So the three years I spent completing my CFA exams were in fact quite stressful. There was a lot of study material and past year mock exams that I found myself burying my head in. They took up a fair amount of time and work, but thankfully I managed to get through all three levels.
There is a saying that challenges are meant to rouse and not to discourage. It also makes the success that comes after all the more valuable.
What competitive advantages does the CFA charter offer you?
Taking up CFA Program has in some ways changed the trajectory of my career path. When I first started work, it was a coincidence that my employer at that time decided to set up a Financial Services practice specializing in quantitative valuation; and because of my background in CFA Program, I managed to secure a spot in that team. Looking back, I think if I had not been doing CFA Program at that time, my career would have gone an entirely different route.
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What is your current role like? What makes you want to get up in the morning?
I'm currently in Deloitte Risk Advisory. Most of the work that I do is centered on Basel II/III, recovery and resolution planning and more recently digital banking.
The first reason would be my colleagues. I have a team that I really enjoy working with. They are fun, supportive, intelligent people who make my work a lot more rewarding. The second reason would be the nature of the work. It is fast-paced and more often than not requires critical thinking and problem solving, and sometimes I'm just jolted awake because of a sudden thought on how to go about a complex issue and other times because there is just so much to do!
What opportunities do you foresee for young aspirants in the investment industry in Malaysia?
The investment industry is constantly evolving, and this undoubtedly means many more interesting opportunities for young aspirants. For example, we see the rapid expansion of digital ecosystems, marked by the introduction of the blockchain technology. Product innovation not only revolutionises traditional banking, but also brings with it new ways of running businesses.
What is your opinion on the importance of social profiling (i.e., LinkedIn)?
I think LinkedIn is an important platform to build your personal brand, to create your growth stories, and to keep in touch with your network.
As a consultant being one step ahead of our clients is extremely important. Personally, LinkedIn has made it a lot easier for me to stay on top of industry trends thanks to the sharing of content by people in my network.
What is your suggestion to increase visibility of network?
There are many ways to increase visibility, and LinkedIn is a good platform to start. It allows users to share and post content and anecdotes in the chosen areas of expertise. The content that you share eventually helps people shape their opinion of your skillsets and expertise, which may eventually materialise into invites to speak at webinars and conferences or even job interviews.
What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership roles in finance?
In recent years, we have seen a lot more women rising to take on bigger roles in the workplace. I'm a firm believer that women can do as much as men, if not more.
It is useful to identify a female mentor in your workplace whom you can speak to openly on the difficulties and challenges experienced, and to learn from their past experiences on how they have empowered themselves in a male-dominated workplace.
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.