s

The following updates are examinable from 23 November 2020

 

TOPIC 1 – REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
  • Terminology updates

 

TOPIC 2 – LICENSING AND REGISTRATION
  • No updates

 

TOPIC 3 – CLIENT SECURITIES AND MONEY
  • No updates

 

TOPIC 4 – CONDUCT OF BUSINESS
  • No updates

 

 TOPIC 5 – RECORD KEEPING AND CONTRACTS LIMITS AND REPORTING
  • No updates

 

TOPIC 6 –FUTURES TRADING AND SETTLEMENT
  • No updates

 

TOPIC 7 –OVER-THE-COUNTER (OTC) DERIVATIVES TRADING, REPORTING AND CLEARING

Material added relating to margin requirements for non-centrally cleared OTCD transactions:

Introduction

  • As part of the post-2008 financial crisis reforms to the OTC derivative market, minimum standards for margin requirements for NCC OTCDs have been established jointly by the Bank of International Settlements and IOSCO
  • Objectives of the requirements are to reduce systemic risk and promote central clearing
  • The Code of Conduct provides for the collection of initial margin (IM) and variation margin (VM)
  • IM and VM refer to collateral that has to be posted by one party to the other to protect the receiving party from the giving party defaulting
  • IM reflects the potential future exposure at the time of entering into the OTCD transaction, whereas VM reflects the current exposure incurred as the mark-to-market value changes over time
  • IM and VM are normally posted and collected by both parties, protecting each party from the possibility of default

Scope of Application

Persons subject to the requirements

  • The requirements apply to any licensed person who is a contracting party to an NCC OTCD transaction with a “covered entity”. They do NOT apply to registered institutions
  • “Covered entity” refers to entities that, during the 12-month period from 1 September to 31 August the following year, is either:
    • A financial counterparty (itself or with its group companies) with an average aggregate notional amount of NCC OTCD exceeding HK$15 billion; or
    • A significant non-financial counterparty (itself or with its group companies) with an average aggregate notional amount of NCC OTCD exceeding HK$60 billion
  • The following are specifically excluded from the definition of covered entity:
    • Governments
    • Central banks
    • Non-commercial government agencies
    • Multilateral development banks specified by the HKMA
    • Bank of International Settlements

Instruments subject to the requirements

  • IM/VM requirements apply to all NCC OTCD transactions, however they do not apply for certain physically settled FX transactions, certain commodity forward transactions and certain currency contracts

Exceptions to the margin requirements

  • The margin requirements may not apply in three circumstances:
  1. Where there is reasonable doubt about the enforceability of a netting agreement in respect of IM or VM or collateral protection arrangements
  2. Intragroup transactions where risk is managed on a consolidated basis
  3. The licensed person has notified the SFC that it will perform substituted compliance – licensed person will adhere to margin requirements of another jurisdiction

 

Initial Margin Requirements

  • IM must be exchanged where both the licensed person and the counterparty have an average aggregate notional amount of NCC OTCDs in excess of HK$375 billion (this will go down to HK$60 billion from 1 September 2022)
  • IM does not need to be exchanged where the licensed person has no counterparty risk or where the counterparty is a significant non-financial counterparty using NCC OTCDs for hedging purposes
  • IM does not need to be collected where the amount due is HK$375 million or less
  • IM received by a licensed person should be protected by using a third-party custodian and should be treated as client assets
  • IM requirements will start from 1 September 2021; VM requirements took effect from 1 September 2020

Variation Margin Requirements

  • Where the licensed person has an average aggregate notional amount of NCC OTCDs in excess of HK$15 billion, VM must be exchanged for a 12-month period commencing 1 September
  • For certain FX contracts, the threshold is HK$60 billion
  • The calculation of VM should be subject to a single, legally enforceable netting arrangement
  • The licensed person may elect not to exchange VM with a significant non-financial counterparty using NCC OTCDs for hedging purposes
  • VM does not need to be collected where the amount due since the last exchange is equal to or less than HK$3.75m. Where the amount is more than HK$3.75m, the full amount needs to be exchangedVM should be calculated at least on a daily basis

Assets Eligible as IM and VM

    • Assets accepted as collateral: cash, marketable debt securities, gold and listed share
    • Assets not acceptable as collateral:
      • Securities issued by a company in the same consolidated group as the licensed person
      • Securities significantly correlated with the counterparty’s creditworthiness or the OTCD’s value
      • Securities that are not of investment grade

 

TOPIC 8 –OVERVIEW OF MAJOR OVERSEAS FUTURES EXCHANGES AND CLEARING HOUSES
  • No updates

The following updates are examinable from 7 November 2020

 

TOPIC 1 – REGULATORY OVERVIEW OF THE HONG KONG FINANCIAL INDUSTRY
  • No updates

 

TOPIC 2 – PRINCIPLES OF RELEVANT HONG KONG LAW AND THE COMPANIES ORDINANCE
  • No updates

 

TOPIC 3 – SECURITIES AND FUTURES ORDINANCE
  • No updates

 

TOPIC 4 – LICENSING AND REGISTRATION, AND SUBSIDIARY LEGISLATION
  • No updates

 

 TOPIC 5 – BUSINESS CONDUCT AND CLIENT RELATIONS

Material added relating to margin requirements for non-centrally cleared OTCD transactions:

  • As part of the post-2008 financial crisis reforms to the OTC derivative market, minimum standards for margin requirements for NCC OTCDs has been established
  • Objectives of the requirements are to reduce systemic risk and promote central clearing
  • The Code of Conduct provides for the collection of initial margin (IM) and variation margin (VM)
  • IM and VM refer to collateral that has to be posted by one party to the other to protect the receiving party from the giving party defaulting
  • IM reflects the potential future exposure at the time of entering into the OTCD transaction, whereas VM reflects the current exposure incurred as the mark-to-market value changes over time
  • IM and VM are normally posted and collected by both parties, protecting each party from the possibility of default
  • The requirements apply to any licensed person who is a contracting party to an OTCD transactions. The do NOT apply to registered institutions
  • The margin requirements may not apply in three circumstances:
  1. Where there is reasonable doubt about the enforceability of a netting agreement in respect of IM or VM or collateral protection arrangements
  2. Intragroup transactions where risk is managed on a consolidated basis
  3. The licensed person has notified the SFC that it will perform substituted compliance – licensed person will adhere to margin requirements of another jurisdiction
  • IM and VM must be exchanged where the average aggregate notional amount of NCC OTCDs exceeds the relevant threshold
  • IM does not need to be exchanged where the licensed person has no counterparty risk
  • IM received by a licensed person should be protected by using a third party custodian should be treated as client assets
  • IM requirements will start from 1 September 2021; VM requirements took effect from 1 September 2020
  • Assets accepted as collateral: cash, marketable debt securities, gold and listed share
  • Assets not acceptable as collateral:
    • Securities issued by a company in the same consolidated group as the licensed person
    • Securities significantly correlated with the counterparty’s creditworthiness or the OTCD’s value
    • Securities that are not of investment grade

 

TOPIC 6 –BUSINESS OPERATIONS AND PRACTICES
  • No updates

 

TOPIC 7 –PARTICIPATING IN THE HONG KONG EXCHANGES
  • Material updated relating to the Volatility Control Mechanism

 

TOPIC 8 –ACCESSING PUBLIC CAPITAL
  • Material updated relating to listing of debt securities

 

TOPIC 9 –MARKET MISCONDUCT AND IMPROPER TRADINGPRACTICES
  • No updates

The following updates are examinable from 1 November 2020

 

TOPIC 1 – OVERVIEW OF SECURITIES INVESTMENTS
  • Dates and data updated for the Main Board, GEM, the debt market, global securities market and Hong Kong market indices
  • Material added relating to government initiatives and measures, including:
    • Qualified Domestic Institutional Investors (QDIIs) and Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors (QFIIs) introduced in China in 2002
      • QDIIs are local institutional investors (fund houses, banks, insurance companies and securities brokerages) in Mainland China who have been granted permission to invest in overseas financial markets
      • QFIIs are foreign institutional investors who are allowed to invest in China A shares
    • Investment by QFIIs and Northbound trading have a positive impact on the flow of funds into China
    • In June 2020, the HKMA, the People’s Bank of China and the Monetary Authority of Macao jointly announced the launch of a cross-boundary wealth management connect pilot scheme (Wealth Management Connect) in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA)
 
TOPIC 2 – THE STOCK EXCHANGE OF HONG KONG: PRIMARY AND SECONDARY MARKETS
  • Data updated relating to initial public offerings and prospectus publication

 

TOPIC 3 – PARTICIPANTS IN THE MARKETS
  •  Dates and data updated for the number of Exchange Participants in Hong Kong – 646 at 30 June 2020

 

TOPIC 4 – TYPES OF SECURITIES
  • Dates and data updated for REITs, the Government Bond Programme and the Government Green Bond Programme
  • New material relating to special features in the Hong Kong securities markets, including:
    • Blue chips is a term used internationally to refer to the strongest, largest and most prestigious listed companies. Constituent stocks of the Hang Seng Index are considered as blue chips
    • Red chips refer to companies incorporated outside the PRC, listed in Hong Kong with significant operations in the PRC (China Mobile, China Resources and Shanghai Industrial)
    • H shares are shares of PRC incorporated companies listed on the SEHK (Sinopec, Bank of Communications, China Telecom and Tsingtao Brewery)
    • US securities traded on SEHK: In 2000, a pilot programme for trading US securities was introduced to the Hong Kong stock market. The main characteristics of the securities in the pilot programme are:
      • Listed on NASDAQ or NYSE Amex
      • May include a number of exchange traded funds (ETFs)
      • No Hong Kong public offering
      • Not regulated as listings on SEHK’s Main Board or GEM
      • Admitted on SEHK for trading only
      • Traded under Hong Kong laws and SEHK rules
    • Examples of pilot programme shares are: Cisco/Intel/Microsoft/Starbucks

 

 TOPIC 5 – STOCK MARKET ADMINISTRATION
  • Material updated relating to the Volatility Control Mechanism
 
TOPIC 6 –SECURITIES ANALYSIS
  • No updates

The following updates are examinable from 1 November 2020

 

TOPIC 1 – THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL SYSTEM
  • Dates and data updated for the OECD, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Bank for International Settlements, highly leveraged institutions and OTC derivative positions
  • None of these changes are likely to be reflected in future exam questions

 

TOPIC 2 – FINANCIAL SYSTEM IN HONG KONG
  • Dates and data updated for the Exchange Fund, the Government’s fund accounts, Mandatory Provident Fund schemes, Authorised Institutions, government budget surpluses and trade figures
  • Material added relating to retirement planning developments from the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation covering:
    • Reverse Mortgage Programme launched in 2011 for people aged 55 or above to use their residential properties in Hong Kong as security to obtain reverse mortgage loans
    • Policy Reverse Mortgage Programme launched in 2019 for people aged 60 or above to use their life insurance policies as collateral to borrow from a lender
  • Development of Insuretech in Hong Kong by the Insurance Authority through the encouragement of the use of digital distribution channels

 

TOPIC 3 – THE EQUITY MARKET
  •  Dates and data updated for main board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong and real estate investment trusts
  • Material deleted relating to a Pilot Programme listing a number of US securities on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong

 

TOPIC 4 – THE DEBT MARKET
  •  Dates and data updated for the listing of exchange fund notes
  • Introduction of perpetual bonds which pay coupons in perpetuity with no requirement for principal redemption
  • New material relating to the Government Green Bond Programme

 

 TOPIC 5 – THE FOREIGN EXCHANGE AND DERIVATIVES MARKETS
  • Dates and data updated for Hong Kong exchange traded contracts
  • New material covering more than 30 MSCI Equity Indexes futures and options contracts launched by Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing
  • Material updated regarding OTC structured products (formerly known as Exotic Derivatives)

 

TOPIC 6 – FINANCIAL RISK MANAGEMENT
  • No updates

 

TOPIC 7 – APPLICATIONS IN THE FINANCIAL SECTOR
  •  No updates

 

Overview

Based on monthly average pass rates reported for the year-to-date, the most challenging papers continue to be Papers 1 (Fundamentals of Securities and Futures Regulation: 52.9%) and 9 (Derivatives: 54.6%), however Paper 2 (Regulation of Securities) and Paper 6 (Regulation of Asset Management) cannot be taken for granted.

The Paper 1 pass rate remained above 50% for the first three months of 2020, having been below 50% for two months in 2019.  While the Paper 6 pass rate for August 2019 fell to 51% – the lowest pass rate for many years – it rose to 58% in March 2020, the highest rate this year so far.  The pass rate for Paper 2 fell to 65% in March, while the pass rate for Paper 3 rose to 93% in February.  The pass rates for Paper 5 for the first three months of 2020 were all well above 70%, with the March rate reaching 81%.

The pass rates for the practical papers in February and March revolved around the year-to-date averages:

HKSI Paper

February

Year-to-date

Average

March

764.4%65.9%69.4%
856.4%60.6%61.1%
946.7%54.6%57.1%
1255.2%55.8%66.7%

Let’s have a look at some of the individual papers.

Paper 1 – Fundamentals of Securities and Futures Regulation
Average monthly pass rate52.9%
Standard deviation of monthly averages1.4%
Range of monthly pass rates51.6% to 54.4%

All figures year-to-date

The range of monthly pass rates has narrowed compared to 2019 (48.5% to 58.5%) with the monthly mean pass rate rising by less than 1%.  The general trend for the Paper 1 pass rate in early 2020 has been stabilisation in the low 50s.  As ever, Paper 1 cannot be taken for granted.

Paper 2 – Regulation of Securities
Average monthly pass rate68.9%
Standard deviation of monthly averages4.5%
Range of monthly pass rates64.7% to 73.6%

All figures year-to-date

While the Paper 2 monthly pass rate has hovered around 70% for the past few years, the March rate of 64.7% was well below this average.  Indeed, the March pass rate is the second lowest for many years (September 2019: 62.7%).  Paper 2 questions continue to challenge.

Paper 3 – Regulation of Derivatives
Average monthly pass rate84.7%
Standard deviation of monthly averages9.2%
Range of monthly pass rates75.0% to 93.3%

All figures year-to-date

Paper 3 is notable for the wide range of monthly pass rates (almost 20%), which continues to reflect a small sample rather than exam difficulty.  However, the monthly average pass rate is relatively high.  The Paper 3 exam traditionally occurs once a month.

Paper 5 – Regulation of Corporate Finance
Average monthly pass rate77.2%
Standard deviation of monthly averages3.7%
Range of monthly pass rates74.0% to 81.3%

All figures year-to-date

The Paper 5 2020 monthly average pass rate is similar to 2018, and markedly greater than 2019 (73.6%).  The current range of monthly pass rates is relatively narrow and is likely to widen as the months pass.  As the exam is traditionally run once a month, small sample sizes give rise to high variability in average scores.

Paper 6 – Regulation of Asset Management
Average monthly pass rate56.5%
Standard deviation of monthly averages1.6%
Range of monthly pass rates55.0% to 58.2%

All figures year-to-date

The Paper 6 average monthly pass rate has fallen consistently year-on-year since 2017, when the average was 75.7%.  As shown above, it is now 56.5%.  The number of candidates sitting Paper 6 each month is normally greater than 30, which suggests that, statistically, the exam is becoming more difficult.  Candidates should make sure that they are well-prepared.

Paper 7 – Financial Markets
Average monthly pass rate65.8%
Standard deviation of monthly averages3.1%
Range of monthly pass rates63.8% to 69.4%

All figures year-to-date

All Paper 7 average monthly pass rates exceeded 60% in 2020, as was the case for most of 2019.  While the range and standard deviation of the monthly averages reflect large sample sizes, with the exam being run eight times per month, March’s pass rate of 69.4% is the highest since mid-2016.

Paper 8 – Securities
Average monthly pass rate60.6%
Standard deviation of monthly averages4.0%
Range of monthly pass rates56.4% to 64.4%

All figures year-to-date

Paper 8, which is often taken in conjunction with Paper 7, has a wider range, higher standard deviation but a lower average pass rate than Paper 7.  Interestingly, the average monthly pass rate has remained at 60% since 2016.  As with Paper 7, it is run eight times per month, which suggests that candidates continue to find Paper 8 more difficult than Paper 7.

Paper 9 – Derivatives
Average monthly pass rate54.6%
Standard deviation of monthly averages7.0%
Range of monthly pass rates46.7% to 60.0%

All figures year-to-date

Paper 9 has always been the most difficult SFC licensing exam to pass, however 2020 has started relatively well, although February’s pass rate fell to 46.7%.  The average monthly pass rate has not exceeded 50% for a number of years and it remains to seen, if 2020 will be the same.  In 2019, there were two monthly pass rates below 30% – dispiriting for many a Paper 9 candidate.

Paper 12 – Asset Management
Average monthly pass rate55.8%
Standard deviation of monthly averages10.6%
Range of monthly pass rates45.5% to 66.7%

All figures year-to-date

Paper 12 is traditionally run twice a month, giving a relatively small sample size, which goes some way to explain the wide range of monthly pass rates and the relatively high standard deviation of 10.6%.  It is worth noting that the monthly average pass rate of this technical paper did not fall below 50% in 2019, whereas we have already seen 45.5% recorded in January 2020.

What Does HKSI Paper 7 on Financial Markets Actually Cover?

HKSI Paper 7 aims to develop basic financial markets knowledge, with descriptions and explanations of markets, products, participants and factors that affect financial markets.  There are 60 questions, 42 or more of which must be answered correctly to pass.  Around 15% of the questions will be numerical, at times requiring the use of a calculator.  Read on to learn of the material covered.

The Global Financial System is outlined in the first topic by considering:
  • Introductory micro and macro economics
  • Participants in the global financial system (IMF, World Bank, WTO etc)
  • Role of central banks
  • Types of financial markets
  • Economic influences on financial markets
  • Lessons from:
  • 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis
  • 2008 Global Financial Crisis
The second topic focuses on the Hong Kong financial system by looking at:
  • Major Hong Kong regulatory bodies, including the SFC and the HKMA
  • Participants in the Hong Kong financial system, including banks, fund houses, brokerage houses and investment banks
  • Ways in which the Hong Kong government influences financial markets
  • The impact of technology
The Equity Market is covered in the third topic, with the following areas addressed:
  • Different methods of raising equity finance
  • Initial public offerings
  • Calculations behind a share rights issue and a bonus share issue
  • Organisation and measurements of the Hong Kong stock market
  • Privatization of government-owned companies
  • Different types of equity securities
  • Trading and settlement systems
The fourth topic explains major factors behind the Debt Market, including:
  • Characteristics and advantages of debt
  • Simples versus compound interest
  • Different categories of bonds
  • Pricing of debt securities
  • Role of the yield curve
  • Structure of the Hong Kong debt market
  • Debt market participants
The Foreign Exchange and Derivative Markets are outlined in the fifth topic with attention paid to:
  • The history of exchange rates and the different exchange rate regimes
  • Hong Kong’s linked exchange rate
  • Calculating forward currency rates
  • Classifications and functions of different types of derivatives, including options, futures, forwards and swaps
  • The mechanics of interest-rate swaps
The sixth topic focuses on Financial Risk Management by looking at:
  • Risk versus expected return
  • Risk management techniques
  • Different types of risk including: credit, market, liquidity and operational
  • Measuring risk by calculating variance and standard deviation
  • Lessons from:
    • The Barings Case
    • The Enron Case
    • The Metallgesellsschaft
    • The Lehman Brothers Case
    • The Madoff Case
Finally, the seventh topic wraps things up outlining Different Applications in the Financial Sector focusing on:
  • Corporate Finance
  • Asset Management
  • Financial Advising
TOPIC 1 – THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL SYSTEM

 

1. Participants in the Global Financial System
  • As well as a variety of commercial participants, the global financial system includes the following supranational organizations and multilateral agencies playing a critical role:
    • International Monetary Fund (IMF): headquartered in Washington DC, the IMF provides the global public good of financial stability, helping growth of international trade, exchange rate stability and an open system of international payments. The IMF lends foreign exchange on a temporary basis to countries, when needed
    • Bank for International Settlements (BIS): promotes international cooperation among central banks, acting as a prime counterparty in their financial transactions. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland with representative offices in Hong Kong and Mexico City. Perceived as bank for central banks
    • The World Bank: founded in 1944, is the world’s largest source of development assistance. It works in more than 100 developing economies providing finance and ideas to improve living standards and eliminate the worst forms of poverty
    • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): helps governments tackle the economic, social and governance challenges of a global economy. Its work covers macroeconomics, trade, education, development, science and innovation
    • World Trade Organization (WTO): is an international body dealing with the global rules of trade between nations. As of July 2019, there were 164 members, with Hong Kong joining in 1995 and China in 2001
    • Asian Development Bank: established in 1966 as a regional development bank focusing on Asian emerging economies. Aims to reduce poverty in Asia Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration.  Japan and the US have the strongest influence
    • Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: proposed by China in 2013, the AIIB is headquartered in Beijing and supports infrastructure development in the Asia Pacific region. As of 2019, AIIB has 70 members as well as 27 prospective members from around the world.  It aims to cooperate with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to strengthen economic connection among BRI countries

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

2. Money and the Banking System
  • Money acts as a:
    • Means of storing wealth
    • Medium of exchange
    • Unit against which to value other goods and services
  • Money needs to be durable, storable and portable
  • There are 3 classifications to describe the quantity of money in an economy:
    • M1: all notes and coins in circulation, plus customers’ demand deposits placed with licensed banks (narrow money)
    • M2: M1 plus savings and term deposits with licensed banks
    • M3: M2 plus deposits in other financial institutions (broad money)
  • Banks are financial intermediaries facilitating the flow of funds in the banking system by carrying out the following functions:
    • Mobilization of funds: both wholesale and retails funds
    • Investment opportunities: allow investors to save money and manage their investment portfolios
    • Implementation of monetary policy: most governments implement monetary policy through the banking system

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

3. Economic Cycles
  • Economies go through periods of boom and bust, involving four stages:
    • Peak to contraction: there is a decrease in economic growth, driven by falling investment and industrial production
    • Contraction to trough: a fall in inflation and private consumption expenditure is accompanied by an increase in unemployment
    • Trough to expansion: economic recovery occurs with a fall in interest rates and an increase in investment activity
    • Expansion to peak: continued economic growth leads to increases in household and business spending, with higher inflation and low unemployment

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

4. Globalization and Technology
  • Development of the global economy has been helped by sophisticated modern technology, enabling efficient and speedy mobilization of funds across borders
  • A disadvantage of these developments is the encouragement of speculative capital inflows and outflows leading to economic and financial instability
  • An example of this disadvantage was the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 brought about by massive short-term speculative capital flows
  • A growing and diverse number of participants can gain access to up-to-date financial news and information from around the world
  • Increased accessibility to global financial markets has influenced the nature and function of financial regulation and has led to the development of new niche markets and products to provide opportunities for higher returns, given the reduction in arbitrage opportunities

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

TOPIC 2 – FINANCIAL SYSTEM IN HONG KONG

 

5. Currency Board System and the Exchange Fund
  • The Financial Secretary sets monetary policy objectives, while the HKMA is responsible for achieving those objectives
  • Currently, Hong Kong’s monetary policy objective is currency stability, defined as:

A stable external exchange value of the currency against the US dollar, at around HKD7.8 to USD1, through monetary structure characterized by Currency Board arrangements, requiring the Hong Kong dollar Monetary Base to be at least 100 per cent backed, and changes in it to be 100 per cent matched, by corresponding changes in the US dollar reserves held in the Exchange Fund at the fixed exchange rate of HKD7.8 to USD1

  • Exchange rate stability is maintained via a market-induced interest rate adjustment mechanism
  • The linked exchange rate means that Hong Kong interest rates need to follow US interest rates to maintain the peg, thereby giving the HKMA little scope to influence interest rates

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 6. Central Bank and Liquidity Management
  • The HKMA acts as the lender of last resort and, therefore, can be considered an intermediary in the financial system
  • The HKMA provides liquidity to banks (referred to as AIs in the Banking Ordinance and AFIs in the Securities and Futures Ordinance)
  • There are three tiers of AIs in Hong Kong:
    • Licensed banks: min paid-up capital of HK$300 million; can take all types of deposits without restriction
    • Restricted license banks: min paid-up capital of HK$100 million; can only take time deposits of HKD500,000 or more without restriction on term to maturity
    • Deposit taking companies: min paid-up capital of HK$25 million; can only take time deposits of HKD100,000 or more with original term to maturity not less than three months
  • HKMA operates a discount window whereby fully licensed banks and restricted licensed banks can obtain overnight liquidity to cover shortfalls by entering into repurchase agreements (repos)
  • Under repo arrangements, banks can sell high quality assets, such as Exchange Fund Notes (EFNs), to the HKMA, promising to buy them back at an agreed price at a future date
  • The HKMA’s provision of short-term liquidity is vital to the stability and credibility of the financial system

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

7. Payment Systems
  • HKMA oversees the banking sector payment systems
  • The Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) settles all gross positions of banks in the financial system. Both licensed and restricted license banks are included in the RTGS
  • AIs maintain settlement accounts with the HKMA and payment obligations are cleared on a continuous, deal by deal basis
  • HKMA operates the Central Moneymarkets Unit (CMU) which is the electronic clearing and settlement system for Exchange Fund Bills and Notes and other debt securities
  • An interface between the RTGS and the CMU allows repurchase agreements to be electronically transacted

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

8. Securities and Futures Commission (SFC)
  • The SFC was established in 1989, with the role to administer the laws governing the securities and futures markets in Hong Kong, and to facilitate and encourage the development of these markets
  • The SFC’s objectives, as stated in the Securities and Future Ordinance, are to:
    • Maintain and promote the fairness, efficiency, competitiveness, transparency and orderliness of the industry;
    • Promote understanding by the public of financial services, including the operation and functioning of the industry;
    • Provide protection to the investing public; minimize crime and misconduct in the industry; and reduce systemic risks in the industry; and
    • Assist the Financial Secretary in maintaining the financial stability of Hong Kong by taking appropriate steps in relation to the industry

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

9. Authorized Institutions

Licensed Banks

  • Need to have paid-up capital of HKD300 million. Banking services provided include:
  • Current and savings accounts
  • Time deposits
  • Loans and overdrafts
  • Syndicated lending
  • Leasing
  • Mortgages
  • Trade finance
  • Securities and commodities dealing
  • Securities margin financing
  • Leveraged foreign exchange trading
  • Money market operations
  • Investment products for private banking clients (eg equity-linked notes)

Restricted Licensed Banks

  • Need to have paid-up capital of HKD100 million, generally branches or subsidiaries of foreign banks and authorized to accept minimum deposits of HKD500,000. Activities, which are mainly investment banking, include:
  • Securities and futures dealing
  • Securities margin financing
  • Leveraged foreign exchange trading
  • Syndicated lending/corporate financing
  • Money and debt market trading

Deposit-Taking Companies

  • Need to have paid-up capital of HKD25 million and usually wholly owned by licensed banks. Can take minimum deposits of HKD100,000.  Specialized services provided include:
  • Mortgage and commercial loans
  • Trade finance
  • Credit cards
  • Insurance
  • Trustee services
  • Investment and treasury operations

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

10. Government Policies

Monetary Policy

  • Involves government actions to influence the supply and cost of money
  • Tight monetary policy usually involves higher interest rates reducing the supply of money, whereas loose monetary policy is the reverse
  • Usually carried out by a separate institution – in Hong Kong it is the HKMA
  • Hong Kong’s monetary policy is limited due to the linked exchange rate system
  • Two approaches to implementing monetary policy:
    • Direct approach: controlling interest rates; limiting lending; and establishing reserve deposit requirements – used in developing economies
    • Market-based approach: use of open market operations (eg quantitative easing) – used in well-developed, free-enterprise economies

Fiscal Policy

  • Deals with taxation and government expenditure
  • Expansionary fiscal policy is designed to energize a sluggish economy through reduced taxation and/or increased government spending thereby increasing household and business spending
  • Contractionary fiscal policy is designed to dampen an overheating economy through increased taxation and/or reduced government spending thereby reducing household and business spending

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

11.The US Economy
  • As a major trading and investment partner, the US economy has a significant impact on the Hong Kong economy
  • US direct investment to Hong Kong is predominantly concentrated in the finance and insurance industries
  • As previously noted, the HK dollar is directly linked to the US dollar, with any changes in US interest rates being directly reflected in changes to Hong Kong interest rates

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

TOPIC 3 – THE EQUITY MARKET

 

12. Equity Financing
  • Raising equity capital can be for a number of reasons:
    • Start-up capital: funds for starting a new business
    • Expansion capital: funds to expand a current business
    • Recapitalization: funds to restructure a company’s capital, usually involving replacement of debt with equity

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

13. Methods of Raising Equity Finance
  • Methods include:
    • Initial Public Offering (IPO): raising funds from the public with the resulting shares being listed on a stock market
    • Rights issue: additional equity capital is raised from existing shareholders at a fixed price within a specified period of time
    • Private placement: shares are offered to a specific class of investors without a public offering
    • Dividend investment plan: existing shareholders invest their dividends in further shares providing an ongoing source of equity finance
    • Equity warrants: gives holders the right to purchase shares at a specified price within a particular period of time. Sometimes referred to as subscription warrants
    • Retained earnings: business earnings not distributed to shareholders, available to finance expansion
    • Private equity: equity raised from high net worth individuals or private funds where a public IPO is not feasible. Often used by immature high-growth companies
    • Venture capital: a form of private equity used to fund early stage-businesses

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

14. Rights Issues
  • A new share issue that is offered to existing shareholders
  • Renounceable rights issues allow shareholders to sell their entitlement to subscribe to the new issue
  • Non-renounceable rights issues can be exercised or they will lapse if not taken up. There is no right to sell the entitlement
  • The number of rights is pro-rated on the existing number of shares held – e.g. a 1 for 3 rights issue will provide one new share for every three shares currently held
  • A rights issue subscription price will always be set below the current market price, providing existing shareholders with an incentive to subscribe
  • The theoretical price that rights can be sold for is a function of entitlement and subscription, and illustrated by the following example:

Example – theoretical price of rights to a share issue

Charlie holds 200 shares worth HKD2.00 each before a 1 for 4 rights issue is announced, with a subscription price of HKD1.00 per share.  That is, for every four shares held by Charlie, he is entitled to subscribe for one additional share at a price of HKD1.00 per share

Value of shares before issue200 x HKD2.00HKD400
Rights issue entitlement200 shares/450 shares
Cost of rights issue50 shares x HKD1.00HKD50
Value of total shares post issueHKD400 + HKD50HKD450
Theoretical value of shares post issue (ex-rights price)HKD450/250HKD1.80
Theoretical value of rightsEx-rights price – subscription priceHKD1.80 – HKD1.00 = HKD0.80

** See Paper 7 Bits and Bytes for exam tips on answering Rights Issue questions

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

15. Bonus Issues
  • Similar to rights issues, however there are no conditions imposed upon shareholders. That is, the shares are issued “for free”, and illustrated by the following example:

Example – theoretical price per share after bonus issue

Charlie holds 200 shares worth HKD2.00 each immediately before a 1 for 4 bonus issue. The price per share immediately after the bonus issue is shown below.

Number of shares before issue200
Value of shares before issue200 shares x HKD2HKD400
Bonus issue entitlement200 shares/450 shares
Number of shares post issue200 + 50250 shares
Price per share post issueHKD400/250HKD1.60

Net effect is an increase in number of shares held and a proportionate decrease in share price

** See Paper 7 Bits and Bytes for exam tips on answering Bonus Issue questions

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

16. The Stock Exchange
  • The term “stock exchange” refers to the actual infrastructure allowing the trading of stocks. It can be physical and/or electronic
  • For shares to be traded on a stock market, they must first be listed. There are two types of listing:
    • Main board listing: publicly listed companies with proven profitability records and size that justify a listing (Main Board of the SEHK)
    • Secondary board listing: smaller companies that do not qualify for a main board listing (GEM)
  • Advantages of being listed:
    • Potential to increase capital base
    • Access to a liquid secondary market with instant pricing
    • Increased corporate profile
    • Enhanced employee loyalty, with share offerings as part of remuneration
  • Disadvantages of being listed:
    • Spread of ownership
    • Onerous reporting requirements
    • Increased administrative costs

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 17. Privatization of Government-Owned Companies
  • The alteration of the legal and management structure of a government-owned company or statutory body to permit private ownership
  • The resulting shares may be sold to private entities or listed on a stock exchange, in part or in full
  • Government objectives in privatizing companies include:
    • Improving competitiveness and economic efficiency
    • Reducing levels of public debt/increasing public revenue
    • Broadening share ownership
    • Encouraging shareholder scrutiny of management
  • Privatization can benefit an economy by:
    • Improving economic competition and efficiency
    • Guiding idle private sector savings into productive investments
    • Creating new finance sources for companies
    • Moving government assets to the private sector where they can be managed more efficiently
  • Privatization of a government monopoly will involve industry restructuring to make it work
  • Examples of Hong Kong government privatizations are the listing of the MTR Corporation in October 2000 and the Link Real Estate Investment Trust (The Link) in November 2005

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

18. Structure of the Stock Market
  • Since 30 April 2018, SEHK permits pre-profit/revenue companies to list on the Main Board, subject to certain criteria in the MBLR
  • As at August 2019, 2,392 companies were listed on the Main Board with a market capitalization of HKD30 trillion
  • Types of securities listed on the SEHK include:
    • Equity securities (ordinary, preference and equity warrants)
    • Debt securities (government and HKMC)
    • Derivatives (derivative warrants, CBBC)
    • Trusts and funds (ETFs and REITs)
  • HKEx entered into a Pilot Programme in May 2000 whereby a number of securities listed on NASDAQ and the NYSE are also listed on the SEHK
  • Naked short selling is prohibited by the Securities and Futures Ordinance
  • The Hang Seng Index was publicly launched on 24 November 1969 with 100 being set as at 31 July 1964
  • As at July 2019, the HSI comprised 50 stocks which accounted for 56.6% of total market cap
  • The Growth Enterprise Market (GEM) offers small and mid-sized companies an avenue to raise capital. Companies are not required to have a record of profitability, however they must have a positive cash flow of at least HK$30 million in aggregate for the two preceding financial years.  GEM caters for professional and sophisticated investors, operating on the basis of buyer beware
  • Securities margin financing is a common Hong Kong practice whereby finance is provided to purchase securities using existing securities as collateral

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

19. Stock Connect Quotas
  • There are daily quotas for the value of shares traded on both the Northbound and Soutbound links of Stock Connect. The quotas are expected to be expanded as the program evolves.
  • The current Northbound trading link quota is:
    • daily quota of Rmb52 billion; and
  • The current Southbound trading link quota is:
    • daily quota of Rmb42 billion
  • Daily quotas are calculated on a “net buy” basis
    • Sell trades increase the available quota. Investors are always allowed to sell their cross-border securities.  The daily quota is reset to zero at the beginning of each trading day
    • Buy trades are subject to availability in the respective quotas

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

TOPIC4 – THE DEBT MARKET

 

20. Characteristics of Debt
  • Different categories of debt have the following characteristics:
    • Short-term or long-term: debt timeframe is also known as debt maturity. Debt issued with a maturity of one year or less is considered short-term; debt issued with a maturity of more than one year is considered long-term
    • Calculation of interest: calculation depends on: whether the rate is fixed or floating; payment period frequency; and simple vs compound
    • Secured or unsecured: a secured loan will give debt holders access to assets of the borrower if the borrower defaults, whereas an unsecured loan has no security guarantee
    • Repayment structure: principal can amortize over time or be repaid at maturity. Interest can be repaid over the period of the loan or added to the capital and repaid at a later date
    • Currency: may be domestic or foreign. Types of foreign debt issued in domestic currency are known as foreign bonds, including:
      • Yankee bonds: US dollar denominated debt issued by non-US issuers in the US
      • Bulldog bonds: GBP sterling denominated bonds issued by non-UK issuers in the UK
      • Samurai bonds: Japanese denominated bonds issued by non-Japanese issuers in Japan
      • Panda bonds: RMB denominated bonds issued by non-Chinese issuers in mainland China

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

21. Simple Interest
  • Interest is calculated on a constant principal amount throughout period of loan

FormulaInterest earned over a number of periods

= loan principal x interest rate per period x number of periods

Simple Interest Example

Calculate the amount of simple interest and the total amount obtained at maturity on a deposit of HKD500,000 after four years with an interest rate of 3%

Answer

Interest  = 500,000 x 3% x 4 years

= HKD60,000

Deposit at maturity = 500,000 + 60,000

=  HKD560,000

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

22. Compound Interest
  • Interest is calculated assuming all interest income earned is reinvested at the same interest rate and with the principal growing each period
  •  Amount received at maturity = loan principal x [1 + (int rate per period/int payments per period)]periods x payments per period

Compound Interest Example

HKD10,000 is invested for three years at a compound interest rate of 10% per annum.  What will the deposit be worth at the end of the three-year period and how much interest will have been earned?

Answer

FV  = 10,000 x (1 + (0.10/1)3 x 1

= 10,000 x 1.13

= HKD13,310

Interest  = 13,310 – 10,000

= HKD3,310

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

23. Quoting Interest Rates
  • There are three common methods of quoting interests:
    • Nominal interest rates: the most common method where no account is taken of compounding
    • Real interest rates: does not include the inflation element of nominal interest rates

(1 + nominal rate) = (1 + real rate) x (1 + inflation rate)

    • Effective interest rates: includes the effect of compounding. To compare nominal interest rates with different compounding periods, the following formula is used:

Effective interest rate = loan principal x [1 + (nominal int rate/int payments per year)]payments per year

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

24. Categorization of Bonds
  • There are three types of bonds, which are a form of fixed income securities:
    • Fixed rate bonds: the coupon (interest payment) on a fixed rate bond remains constant throughout the life of the bond. Cash flows paid to investors can be predetermined providing a regular income.  Most common type in Hong Kong
    • Floating rate bonds: the coupon is based on a reference rate, such as HIBOR. The bond’s interest rate is reset at regular intervals to reflect changes in the underlying reference rate
    • Zero coupon bonds: no coupons are paid during the life of the bond. These bonds are issued at a discount to face value with the full principal being repaid on maturity

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

25. Pricing of Zero Coupon Debt Securities
  • Zero coupon debt securities are issued at a discount to face value and are redeemed at face value, thereby providing a capital gain. As the name suggests, no coupons are paid
  • The implied interest rate of the security is referred to as the yield
  • A zero-coupon bond with a face value of HK$100, with three years to maturity, providing an annual yield of 5%, will be priced at HK$86.38

PV =  100/(1 + 0.05)3

      = 86.38

To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

26. Pricing of Coupon Debt Securities
  • The price/value of a coupon security is the sum of the present values of all future cash flows
  • Future cash flows comprise of coupon payments and the principal repayment
  • A three-year 10% coupon bond, with a face value of HK$100, providing a yield of 8% will be priced at HK$105.17
YearCash FlowAmount (HK$)Discount FactorPV of Cash Flow
1Coupon100.9269.26
2Coupon100.8578.57
3Coupon100.7947.94
3Principal1000.79479.40
105.17

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

27. Yield versus Price
  • The yield of a security is its effective annual return expressed as a percentage of the current market price and is determined by a number of factors, including:
    • Risk profile: the higher the risk of a security, the higher the risk premium within the yield, resulting in a lower price
    • Term: investors who invest for the longer term, expect a higher return (yield) to compensate for lack of liquidity and opportunity cost
    • Taxation: securities offering tax benefits will trade at lower yield as they are more attractive than similar securities without benefits
  • Remember: The higher the yield, the lower the price, and the lower the yield, the higher the price

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

28. What is the Yield Curve?
  • The yield curve is a line plotting the yields of selected benchmark securities of the same type, with different maturities from short- to long-term
  • Yield curves are considered by country and by market and are used to forecast the future direction of interest rates and inflation
  • Benchmark securities selected are usually highly rated government-issued debt securities, such as US treasury bonds
  • Non-government securities, such as corporate debt, are considered to be higher risk than government securities. Yields will be above those of government debt reflecting a premium that compensates investors for the higher risk

Positive or Normal

Yield increases with an increase in term to maturity.  The longer the term, the greater the uncertainty, the higher the required return.  Consistent with expectations of rising inflation.

Negative or Inverse

Opposite to the positive yield curve where longer term interest rates are expected to be lower than current and short-term interest rates.

Flat

Can reflect expectations of stable interest rates or the transition from a positive to a negative yield curve, or vice versa.

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

29. Repurchase Agreements
  • One party sells securities to another in return for cash, with an agreement to repurchase equivalent securities at an agreed (higher) price, on an agreed future date
  • The repo buyer (who sells the securities) is able to source funds to cover any liquidity shortfall
  • A repo can be thought of as a short-term secured loan with collateral
  • Widely used by central banks and the money market to relieve money market shortages
  • In Hong Kong, banks can obtain temporary liquidity from the HKMA (discount window) by using repos with EFBs and EFNs as collateral

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

30. Structured Finance and Securitized Debt
  • There are three sectors of the structured finance market:
    • Securitization: takes assets, such as individual mortgages, and repackages the underlying the cash flows into relatively liquid securities. The market consists of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and asset-backed securities (ABS). Although the government is keen to develop this market, progress has been slow
    • Collateralized debt obligations (CDOs): a series of underlying loan products repackaged into a number of security tranches with different characteristics
    • Asset-backed commercial paper: a wide variety of debt backs the issuance of commercial paper

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

31. Short-term Debt Securities
  • Interbank placement funds: large amounts of cash move between AIs and the HKMA on a daily basis, with AIs being major participants in the interbank money market. HIBOR, which is set at 11.00am each day, is an average of the quoted yields from 20 selected AIs, and is given for 1-month, 3-month and 6-month tenors
  • Government bills: Exchange Fund Bills issued by the HKMA through the Exchange Fund. Yields for 91-day, 182-day and 364-day bills are considered as Hong Kong’s risk-free rates
  • Negotiable certificates of deposit: AIs issue certificates of deposit (CDs) to certify particular amounts of money deposited with them. As AIs are the issuers, they are considered low-risk instruments.  Holders are entitled to the money on deposit at maturity, which may range from a few days to six months
  • Bankers’ acceptances: or bills of exchange are issued by individuals/corporations and accepted by banks. A bank agrees to pay a bill’s face value to the holder at the bill’s maturity
  • Commercial bills: issued by corporations and accepted by banks. Used to finance working capital or business expansion.  Tend to trade at higher yields than bankers’ acceptances
  • Promissory notes/commercial papers: agreements to repay certain amounts of money at specified future dates (usually less than six months). Only involve two parties: issuers and holders

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

TOPIC 5 – THE FOREIGN EXCHANGE AND DERIVATIVES MARKETS

 

32. The Foreign Exchange Market
  • The foreign exchange market is the world’s largest global financial market
  • Also referred to as the forex or FX market
  • An OTC market which is traded 24 hours a day without any specific geographic location
  • Trades covering currencies at current exchange rates are known as the spot market; currencies traded for delivery at a future date at an agreed rate are known as the forward market
  • Participants in the FX market quoting prices for currencies are known as dealers or traders
  • The majority of currencies in the FX market are quoted against the US dollar
  • When a pair of currencies are quoted against each other without reference to the US dollar, the quote is known as a cross rate
  • If the USD:HKD rate is quoted as 7.80, this means USD1 = HKD7.80

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

33. Exchange Rate Regimes
  • Floating rates: a currency’s value is determined by market supply and demand
  • Fixed rates: a government/monetary authority sets a fixed rate of exchange with another currency and will intervene in the FX markets to ensure that the fixed rate is maintained
  • Linked rates: a type of fixed rate regime where the local currency is linked (or pegged) to a particular foreign currency. Usually, there is a trading range around the target rate, which is monitored by the government/monetary authority.  The HK dollar has a linked exchange rate with the US dollar

The Hong Kong Currency Board System

  • Note issuing banks deposit equivalent amount of US dollars with the HKMA for issuing HK dollar notes
  • Therefore, the Hong Kong monetary base is fully backed by US dollars

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

34. Calculating Currency Forward Exchange Rates
  • Currency forwards are agreements to buy or sell a quantity of currency for delivery at some time in the future, at an exchange rate fixed at the time of the agreement
  • Forward rate = Spot rate x [(1 + interest rate of numerator country)/(1 + interest rate of denominator country)]

Currency Forward Exchange Rate Example

Calculate the forward exchange rate with the following information:

  • GBP/USD spot rate: 1.35
  • UK interest rate: 3% pa
  • US interest rate: 0.75% pa

Answer

F        = 1.35 x (1 + 0.0075)/(1 + 0.03)

= 1.32

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 35. Functions of Derivatives
  • There are four functions of derivatives:
    • Risk management: a “price” can be fixed now protecting (hedging) against future adverse price movements
    • Reduction in borrowing costs: interest rate derivatives are used to reduce borrowing costs
    • Increased flexibility: dealers/traders are able to choose between trading derivatives or the underlying assets, providing trading strategy flexibility
    • Arbitrage: locking in to a risk-free profit, thereby keeping markets accurately priced
  • Derivatives are a zero-sum game where one party will gain and the other will lose

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 36. Exchange-Traded vs Over-The- Counter Derivatives
  • Exchange-traded derivatives are traded on an organized exchange. The oldest commodity exchange in the United States is the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), which trades agricultural commodity futures such as, corn, oats and soybeans, as well as financial derivatives
  • The most common exchange-traded derivative is the future
  • Examples of exchange-traded derivatives are:
    • Index futures and options: value derived from a stock market index
    • Warrants: value usually derived from underlying stocks
    • Stock futures and options: value derived from underlying stocks
    • Treasury bill futures and options: value derived from underlying benchmark treasury bills
    • Treasury bond futures and options: value derived from underlying benchmark treasury bonds
  • As with any exchange-traded transaction, counterparty risk is eliminated as the exchange will act as counterparty to both buyer and seller
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives dominate the derivatives market, with much higher volumes than the exchange-traded market
  • Unlike standardized exchange-traded derivatives, OTC derivatives are tailor-made/customised to the requirements of the counterparties

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 37. Futures
  • An agreement to buy or sell an underlying asset at a specified price and future date
  • Exchange traded with standardized features
  • Initial margin is paid at the beginning of the contract, with margin calls following, if the position loses sufficient money – daily marking to market will trigger margin calls
  • Futures are usually closed out, prior to expiry, with a buy being cancelled by a sell and vice versa. A small number are settled by physical delivery

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 38. Forwards
  • Two parties agree to buy and sell an asset at an agreed price, at an agreed time in the future
  • Unlike futures, forward contracts are traded OTC and terms are not standardized
  • There are no margin/collateral requirements to assure contract performance, resulting in credit (counterparty) risk
  • Forward rate agreements (FRAs) are forward contracts between two parties that lock them into an agreed fixed interest rate over a stated period of time

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 39. Swaps
  • Two parties agree to exchange (swap) income streams derived from a portfolio of assets or liabilities
  • The most popular types are interest rate swaps and currency swaps, which are traded OTC and are highly customized
  • With interest rate swaps, loan principals are not swapped and net interest is exchanged between parties
  • With currency swaps, principals are swapped and gross interest payments are exchanged

** See Paper 7 Bits and Bytes for exam tips on answering Swaps questions

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 40. Options
  • A call option is the right to buy an underlying asset at a specified price (strike price) on or before a specified date (expiry date)
  • A put option is the right to sell an underlying asset at a specified price (strike price) on or before a specified date (expiry date)
  • Taking up the right is known as exercising the option
  • The seller (writer) of an option has an obligation to sell/buy when the option is exercised by the buyer (holder)
  • Unlike futures and forwards, the buyer of an option has no obligation to sell or buy the underlying asset, but will exercise if it is profitable to do so
  • The price paid to purchase an option is known as the option premium and is paid to the option seller
  • Examples of exchange-traded options are: options on shares; options on indices; and options on futures
  • Examples of OTC options are: interest rate options; currency options; and exotic options
  • A swaption is an option to enter into a swap agreement

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 41. Exotic Derivatives
  • Exotic derivatives available in Hong Kong include:
    • Structured notes have features similar to options or swaps. An example would be the Accumulator on stocks, which is a contract to buy stocks at specified intervals at a fixed strike price, subject to a “knock out” terminating the contract
    • Equity-linked notes (ELNs) have features of both options and debt
    • HIBOR-linked deposits, which are linked to HIBOR, have features of both options and debt

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 42. Exchange-Traded Derivatives
  • Contracts traded on the Hong Kong Futures Exchange are:
    • Equity and index derivatives: equity derivatives include stock futures and stock options. Index derivatives include:
        • HSI futures and options
        • Mini-HSI futures and options
        • HSCEI futures and options
        • Mini-HSCEI futures
        • Dividend futures
        • HSI Volatility Index futures (VHSI)
      • Global fund managers use HSI index futures and options to hedge or speculate on the direction of the Hong Kong market
      • Mini-HSI derivatives are smaller versions of HSI products designed for retail investors with a multiplier of HKD10 instead of HKD50 per index point
      • HSCEI derivatives are offered by HKEx to meet the growing needs of investors interested in China related securities
      • Dividend futures is the dividend payoff from stock index constituents for one calendar year
      • VHSI futures allow investors to manage volatility risk in HSI or Hong Kong’s stock market in general

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 43. Trading and Settlement of Derivatives
  • The trading and settlement of derivatives in Hong Kong can be summarized as follows:
    • A derivatives trade (futures and options) is matched using HKATS (Hong Kong Automated Trading System)
    • The trade is registered with SEOCH/HKCC through an Exchange Participant with clearing rights
    • The HKCC/SEOCH assumes the role of counterparty between buyers and sellers, known as novation, thereby eliminating any counterparty risk
    • Initial margin is the minimum required level of margin set by the HKFE. Firms may set higher margin levels for their clients
    • Maintenance margin represents the minimum amount of protection against potential losses at which the HKFE participant will allow its clients to carry a position or a portfolio. If the margin falls below the maintenance level, the account must be re-margined back to the initial margin level
    • Cash-settled contracts are cleared and settled by HKCC
    • Physical delivery involves the seller of a contract physically delivering the underlying asset to the buyer. The HKCC must be informed

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

TOPIC 6 – FINANCIAL RISK MANAGEMENT

 

44. Fundamental Risk Management Techniques
  • Risk management involves identifying and evaluating risk, followed by implementation of risk management techniques to minimise risk exposure
  • Fundamental risk management techniques are:
    • Risk avoidance: particular activities, which could result in loss, can be avoided. An example would be avoiding the business of securities margin financing
    • Risk reduction: techniques can be employed to reduce potential risk. An example would be buying foreign currency forward to lock into an exchange rate now for future settlement
    • Risk transfer: usually, at a cost, risk can be transferred. An example is taking out an insurance policy
    • Risk retention: the cost of the above three techniques may be prohibitive, making risk unavoidable. An example could be remaining exposed to foreign currency movements, allowing gains as well as losses

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 45. Types of Financial Risk
  • Credit risk is the chance that a counterparty does not honour a legal obligation. This could be defaulting on a debt repayment or not honouring a forward contract commitment.  Also referred to as counterparty risk
  • Settlement risk is the risk that a transaction does not settle as intended, in terms of timing
  • Market risk is the risk of loss due to unfavourable movements in market prices, including stock prices, interest rates, currency rates and commodity prices
  • Basis risk is the risk of loss from derivative and asset prices being unaligned
  • Liquidity risk is the risk of loss from an inability to sell at fair market value due to a shortage of available buyers
  • Operational risk is the risk of loss from failures or faults in processes, procedures or trading and settlement systems

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 46. Other Risks
  • Legal risk is the risk of loss from unenforceability of contracts
  • Reputational risk is the risk of loss from reputational damage
  • Strategic risk is the risk of loss from implementing, or not implementing, new initiatives or strategies
  • Systemic risk is the risk of loss from the breakdown of an entire system, eg the clearing and settlement system of the securities market

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 47. Identifying Risk
  • The main requirement for identifying risk is an understanding of the business. Unintended losses can often be put down to poor understanding of a business, thereby making it difficult to know where the underlying risks lie

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 48. Measuring Risk
  • Risk is measured using the mathematical concept of standard deviation, which measures dispersion around an expected value
  • Standard deviation is the square root of the variance. Variance is calculated by applying probabilities to different possible returns in relation to the expected return

** See Paper 7 Bits and Bytes for exam tips on answering risk computational questions

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

49.Calculation of Expected Return

ER  =  Ʃ piri

  • ER   =  expected return
  • pi      =  probability of return i
  • ri      =  % return i

Example

Dead Certainty Limited has the following return probabilities for the next year.  Calculate the expected return

ProbabilityReturn
30%4%
50%8%
20%10%

Solution

ProbabilityReturnExpected Value
30%4%1.2%
50%8%4.0%
20%10%2.0%
Expected return7.2%

** See Paper 7 Bits and Bytes for exam tips on answering expected return computational questions

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 50. Measuring Market Risk
  • There are a number of market risk measures, including:
    • Value at Risk (VaR): a popular measure of market risk used to calculate, at specified confidence levels, the likely change in the value of a portfolio of securities from a change in market conditions. VaR indicates the maximum daily loss likely to occur at, say, a 99% confidence level
    • Stress testing: involves testing a portfolio of securities to observe how it performs when particular market changes occur
    • Duration: measures the sensitivity of bond prices to changes in interest rates, taking into account yields, maturity dates and coupon cash flows
      • Duration approximates to the percentage bond price change from a 1% change in interest rates
      • The higher the yield, the lower the duration
      • The greater the time to maturity, the higher the duration
      • The higher the coupon, the lower the duration
    • Dollar value per basis point: measures the change in value of a debt security for a 0.01% change in yield (ie a single basis point)
    • Option sensitivity measures: measure the sensitivity of an option price to changes in time to expiry, volatility and security prices

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 51. Credit Ratings
  • Credit rating agencies (CRAs) assign credit ratings to debt issuers, based on their ability to repay their debts
  • Moody’s, S&P and Fitch are the major CRAs
  • With debt issues on the increase, investors increasingly use published CRA ratings to help with investment decisions

Credit Rating and the Sub-Prime Crisis

  • In 2007/2008, the credit ratings of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) were of high investment quality when the underlying assets were of very poor quality
  • Rating models were found to be deficient as they did not account for the default probability among sub-prime lenders or have considered the change in property prices

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 52. Novation
  • Novation is used by securities exchanges to minimize credit (counterparty) risk
  • In Hong Kong, for example, the securities clearing house will act as the counterparty, as buyer or seller, to each purchase/sale transaction completed on the stock exchange
  • Each transaction is honoured by the clearing house as it is backed by a compensation fund made up of brokers’ contributions, a bank guarantee and an insurance policy

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 53. Financial Risk Management Techniques
  • Using derivatives: derivatives can be used to manage traded market risk. Through credit default swaps, they can also be used to manage credit risk
  • Exposure netting: used by global corporations and fund managers, this technique involves setting off gains in one asset against losses in another. Parties can avoid making full settlement by netting off exposures
  • Documentation: an important credit risk management tool for corporations. An example is the global master agreement covering OTC derivative transactions produced by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA)
  • Securities margin financing: securities are provided as collateral and marked-to-market on a daily basis. If the investor reaches a particular collateral loss threshold, payment is required to reduce the shortfall to zero
  • Mark-to-market: book/collateral value is adjusted to reflect its current market value
  • Role of market makers: market makers promote market liquidity, thereby minimizing traded market risk
  • Limit setting: securities exchanges set limits as a means of managing market and credit risks

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 
TOPIC 7 – APPLICATIONS IN THE FINANCIAL SECTOR

 

 54. What is Corporate Finance?
  • Application of a range of economic and financial principles to maximize the overall value of a business
  • An art more than a science
  • Financial solutions for companies are tailored to meet the individual company’s specific strategic and financial needs
  • Helps companies achieve their goals, a major one of which is maximizing the wealth or overall value of the business
  • Critical to the financial and securities markets which depend upon corporations’ need for cash
  • Professionals work with different companies to help them achieve the optimum financial solutions for their particular needs

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 55. The Work of Corporate Finance Professionals
  • The work involved includes:
    • Providing strategic and financial advice to corporations
    • Valuing companies, specific assets or specific company securities
    • Raising capital in the form of debt, equity and hybrid combinations
    • Lending to companies
    • Business and financial restructuring
    • Advising on merger and acquisition strategies
  • To perform the work, individuals require a high level of local and international financial/legal/taxation knowledge, including:
    • Accounting and financial analysis
    • Corporate and securities law
    • Taxation
    • International experience

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 56. What is Asset Management?
  • Assets managed by investment professionals
  • The assets are managed funds, also known as collective, pooled or investment funds
  • Managed funds include: unit trusts, mutual funds, retirement or corporate funds and private equity funds
  • Investment professionals (fund or asset managers) invest the pooled monies in assets such as equities, debt securities, real estate and/or cash
  • Hong Kong attracts fund managers for many reasons, including:
    • Central location in Asia
    • Clear and respected regulatory regime
    • Just and equitable legal system
    • English language and administration skills
    • Simple and low-tax system
    • A route to the mass market of mainland China
    • A world class communications system
    • A highly liquid stock market
    • A deep pool of professionals supporting the fund management industry

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 57. Why is Asset Management Important?
  • Individual savings are held in pension funds, unit trusts and mutual funds
  • According to the Investment Fund Fact Book 2014, mutual funds worldwide involved the management of USD30 trillion in total net assets. Accordingly, decisions made by large global fund managers can affect particular stocks, market sectors or entire countries
  • Fund managers can invest in a broader range of investments than individuals can
  • Key benefits of managed funds are access to professional investment management services and diversification
  • The SFC has set standards on diversification in the Code on Unit Trusts and Mutual Funds, which include the following requirements:
    • A fund is limited to holding 10% of total net assets in the securities of a single issuer
    • A fund is limited to holding 10% of the ordinary shares of a single issuer

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 58.The Work of Asset Management Professionals
  • The work involved includes:
    • Developing asset allocation strategies
    • Analysing past, and forecasting future, performance of markets, companies and securities
    • Analysing all publicly available information on specific companies
    • Valuation of securities
    • Buying/selling large amounts of securities at best prices
    • Monitoring performance of and managing exposure to specific securities
  • To perform the work, individuals require a high level of local and international financial knowledge, including:
    • Macro- and micro-economic analysis, including global economic and political analysis
    • Statistical and quantitative analysis
    • Accounting knowledge and financial analysis skills
    • Valuation of a wide variety of financial assets
    • Finance and investment portfolio theory

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

59.What is Financial Advising?
  • A process to help individuals identify and achieve their personal and financial goals through a comprehensive financial plan
  • Financial advising (aka financial planning) is an ongoing process of relating a client’s changing needs and financial position to the changing environment
  • Financial products provide different risk/return combinations and it is a financial planner’s job to match financial strategies and actions to a client’s goals. These goals can include:
    • Enjoy a particular level of income or savings
    • Achieve a certain asset value or return on asset
    • Save/invest within an acceptable risk level
    • Achieve liquidity and flexibility needs
    • Maximize after-tax returns within acceptable risk levels
  • It is a structured process to help individuals and families meet their financial goals and objectives
  • Accumulated savings of the baby boomer generation, members of whom are enjoying increased life longevity, has stimulated demand for financial advisory services
  • Increased international mobility has placed more emphasis on international tax planning
  • Increased sophistication of investment products requires individuals to source expert investment advice
  • The wealth creation phase helps clients accumulate savings for retirement, while providing finance for all forms of family expenditure
  • The wealth protection phase helps clients who are reaching or have reached retirement, to live the lifestyle that they planned for

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

 

 60.The Work of Financial Advisers
  • The work involved includes:
    • Establishing a client’s current financial position
    • Establishing a client’s short- medium- and long-term goals and objectives
    • Preparing an investment strategy and risk recommendations to meet client objectives
    • Selection of investment and insurance products relevant to a client’s investment strategy
    • Presenting and implementing the investment plan
    • Ongoing monitoring and management of client investments and expectations

[To access practice questions for this topic, go to Examinator.online – Paper 7]

TOPIC 1 – OVERVIEW OF SECURITIES INVESTMENTS
1. International Indices

Some widely used international indices are covered below

FTSE Indices

  • The most common FTSE index is the FTSE 100, which tracks the performance of the 100 largest UK companies

Dow Jones Indexes

  • The best known index is the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), which tracks the performance of 30 “blue-chip” US-listed stocks from various industries (except transport and utilities)
  • Calculated by dividing total prices of constituent stocks by a divisor, which is adjusted to account for stock splits and other corporate actions – described as price-weighted

Standard & Poor’s Indices

  • Consist of numerous global and country-specific indices
  • Best known is S&P 500, a widely used benchmark for US equity performance

NASDAQ Indices

  • Cover stocks traded on National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ)
  • Perceived as an exchange for new, high growth and technology stocks
  • The most common is the NASDAQ composite, which includes all domestic and internationally based common types of securities

Nikkei Indexes

  • A series of indices that primarily track the Japanese stock market
  • Most widely watched is the Nikkei 225 Stock Average which comprises 225 of the most actively traded stocks on the Tokyo Stock Exchange

MSCI Indices

  • Widely used by global portfolio managers as benchmarks, the firm was formerly Morgan Stanley Capital International
  • Measure performance of different national stock markets and also referenced to regional, sector and industry criteria
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

2. Stock Exchanges in Mainland China

China is keen to encourage foreign investment and is moving towards international accounting practices to ensure market integrity and transparency
China joining the WTO in 2001 has had a significant impact on the role of China stock exchanges
Currently there are two stock exchanges: Shanghai and Shenzhen

Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE)

  • Established in November 1990, the SSE was the first China stock exchange
  • A shares are purchased by local Chinese investors and settled in RMB
  • B shares are open to individual and institutional foreign investors and settled in US dollars
  • There were 1,106 listed companies in June 2016 with a market capitalization of USD 3,777 billion
  • A shares are expected to become more influential in the world market as China’s GDP grows
  • The Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect was launched on 17 November 2014

Shenzhen Stock Exchange

  • Established in December 1990 as China’s second stock market
  • A shares are settled in RMB
  • B shares are settled in HKD
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

3. How to Calculate Compound Interest

Interest is calculated assuming all interest income earned is reinvested at the same interest rate, with the principal growing each period

FormulaAmount received at maturity 

= loan principal x (1 + interest rate per period/int payments per period)periods x payments per period

[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

4. Nominal versus Real Interest Rates

Two common methods of quoting interest rates:

    1. Nominal interest rates: the most common method where no account is taken of compounding
    2. Real interest rates: does not include the inflation element of nominal interest rates
  • (1 + nominal rate) = (1 + real rate) x (1 + inflation rate)
  • In approximate terms: real interest rate = nominal interest rate – inflation rate
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

5. Types of Yield Curve

Positive or Normal
Yield increases with an increase in term to maturity.  The longer the term, the greater the uncertainty, the higher the required return.  Consistent with expectations of rising inflation.

Negative or Inverse
Opposite to the positive yield curve where longer term interest rates are expected to be lower than current and short-term interest rates.

Flat
Can reflect expectations of stable interest rates or the transition from a positive to a negative yield curve, or vice versa.

[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

 TOPIC 2 – SEHK: PRIMARY & SECONDARY MARKETS
6. Role of Advisers and Professionals
Sponsor
  • Can be a corporation or an AFI licensed or registered under the SFO for Type 6 regulated activity
  • Responsible for preparing the new applicant for listing, lodging the formal application and preparing all supporting documentation for the SEHK
  • Ensures that the issuer satisfies the listing requirements and that the directors understand their responsibilities and honour their obligations under the Listing Rules
  • On listing, the issuer must appoint a compliance adviser, who can be the sponsor, to serve for at least a year following the listing
Underwriter
  • An intermediary between the issuer and the investing public – usually an investment bank or brokerage house
  • Primary responsibility is to organise the issue of securities
  • Will often organise a syndicate to help with sale, promotion and distribution of securities
  • Can also share the risk by agreeing to buy all unsold securities or buy all securities and then resell them
Accountant
  • The firm of accountants engaged by the issuer must be qualified under the Professional Accountants Ordinance and be independent of the issuer
  • The chosen firm must prepare the required accounting reports, including profit and loss accounts and statements of assets and liabilities
Legal Advisers
  • Responsible for reviewing the legal structure of the listing company and verifying that all documents to be submitted comply with relevant laws
  • Play a particularly important role when companies have to restructure to comply with Hong Kong’s laws
Valuers
  • Significant assets (eg land and buildings) are required to have their values assessed by qualified independent valuers
  • Valuation reports are required for substantial transactions (acquisitions or disposals) and in connected transactions
Depositary (for HDR)
  • Issues depositary receipts as an agent of the issuer
  • Holds the issuer’s underlying shares
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

7. Prospectus Conventions
  • Contents: sufficient information covering the industry, business overview and risk factors should be provided to allow investors to make an informed investment decision. Information should also cover the company’s past results, the timetable of the offering and the rights of the securities being offered
  • Responsibility: a statement of the directors’ commitment to the prospectus must appear in the prospectus. All directors are held responsible for the information presented
  • Subsequent events: a supplementary listing document must be issued if the following events occur after the prospectus is issued:
    • A significant change affecting any matter covered in the prospectus
    • A significant new matter which would have required inclusion in the first place
  • Language: must be published in both English and Chinese
  • Illustrations: the prospectus may contain illustrations and/or graphs, as long as they are not misleading
  • Profit forecasts: if future profits and dividends are referred to, they must be supported by a formal profit forecast. Any forecast must be supported by underlying assumptions and the reporting accountants and the financial advisers must state that they are satisfied that the profit forecast has been made after due and careful enquiry.  All assumptions made should be specific, not general, and should help investors form a view on the reliability of the forecast
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

8. Common Types of Orders
  • When trading, an investor should provide the Exchange Participant (EP) with clear instructions covering account number or name, securities code or name, order type, price and quantity
  • The most common order types include:
    • Market order: also referred to as “unrestricted order”, it instructs the EP to execute the order at the best available price
    • Limit order: the instruction specifies the highest or lowest price acceptable for a transaction as well as the size, expiry time and date
    • Stop-loss order: used to limit an investor’s loss. When the market price hits or goes beyond the stop price, a market order will be triggered to limit the investor’s loss
    • Stop-gain order: opposite of a stop-loss order to enable a gain to be realised. Used for hedging or risk-management purposes
    • Discretionary order (careful discretion): investors rely upon the dealer or broker’s professional judgment for entering into a particular transaction
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

9. Bonus Issue of Shares

An issue of new shares to existing shareholders at no cost, usually in proportion to a shareholder’s existing holding.  That is, the shares are issued “for free”.  Illustrated by the following example:

Example – theoretical price per share after bonus issue

Charlie holds 200 shares worth HKD2.00 each immediately before a 1 for 4 bonus issue. The price per share immediately after the bonus issue is shown below.

Number of shares before issue200
Value of shares before issue200 shares x HKD2HKD400
Bonus issue entitlement200 shares/450 shares
Number of shares post issue200 + 50250 shares
Price per share post issueHKD400/250HKD1.60

Net effect is an increase in number of shares held and a proportionate decrease in share price, effectively diluting the share price or share value

[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

10. Rights Issue of Shares
  • A new share issue that is offered to existing shareholders
  • Renounceable rights issues allow shareholders to sell their entitlement to subscribe to the new issue
  • Non-renounceable rights issues can be exercised or they will lapse if not taken up. There is no right to sell the entitlement
  • The number of rights is pro-rated on the existing number of shares held – e.g. a 1 for 3 rights issue will provide one new share for every three shares currently held
  • A rights issue subscription price will always be set below the current market price, providing existing shareholders with an incentive to subscribe
  • The theoretical price that rights can be sold for is a function of entitlement and subscription and is illustrated by the following example:

Example – theoretical price of rights to a share issue

Charlie holds 200 shares worth HKD2.00 each before a 1 for 4 rights issue is announced, with a subscription price of HKD1.00 per share.  That is, for every four shares held by Charlie, he is entitled to subscribe for one additional share at a price of HKD1.00 per share

Value of shares before issue200 x HKD2.00HKD400
Rights issue entitlement200 shares/450 shares
Cost of rights issue50 shares x HKD1.00HKD50
Value of total shares post issueHKD400 + HKD50HKD450
Theoretical value of shares post issue (ex-rights price)HKD450/250HKD1.80
Theoretical value of rightsEx-rights price – subscription priceHKD1.80 – HKD1.00 = HKD0.80
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

11. Reporting to Investors and the Market
  • Under the Listing Rules, a listed issuer is required to provide the following reports to the SEHK and its shareholders:
    1. A Directors’ Report
    2. Annual accounts plus a copy of the auditors’ report
    3. An interim report
    4. A notice of meeting
    5. A listing document and/or a circular
    6. A copy of any other announcement required to be submitted to the newspapers
  • The above must be submitted to the SEHK electronically so that they can be published on the SEHK’s website
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

TOPIC 3 – PARTICIPANTS IN THE MARKETS
12. Brokers
  • A broker is defined as a firm that acts as an intermediary between a buyer and a seller of securities
  • Brokers charge a commission for their services and may provide advice to investors
  • All Hong Kong brokers must be licensed by the Securities and Futures Commission
  • Brokers who trade securities on the SEHK must be Exchange Participants. There were 566 EPs at 30 June 2016
  • A client may hold a discretionary and/or a non-discretionary account with a broker
    • Discretionary account: the client allows the broker full and unfettered discretion to trade for a designated account or parameters are set within which the broker can act
    • Non-discretionary account: broker can only act under specific instructions from the client
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

13. Licensing
  • Any entity involved in the following activities must be licensed by the SFC
    • Dealing in securities
    • Trading in futures contracts
    • Giving investment advice on securities or futures contracts
    • Providing margin financing for the trading of securities on a stock exchange
    • Providing credit rating services
    • Trading in leveraged foreign exchange contracts
  • Authorized Financial Institutions, which are supervised and regulated by the HKMA, must be registered with the SFC if they wish to conduct an SFC regulated activity
  • To obtain an SFC license, a broker must be considered “fit and proper” in terms of financial standing, reputation and competence
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

14. Traders
  • An individual or organization that acts as a principal rather than an agent in securities transactions
  • May hold an inventory of securities for sale at a profit
  • An individual employed as a “trader” by an investment or securities firm may perform a number of roles, including:
    • Flow traders: usually assume risk by holding positions (long or short) in securities or derivatives to assist with large orders from institutional clients. Revenue is generated from the spread between the bid and the ask. Trades may be on exchange or OTC.  Also known as market makers or block traders
    • Proprietary traders: often known as prop traders, they take on positions for their own and their employer’s account to make money from market movements. Prop traders normally take a longer term view than flow traders
  • Traders, as with brokers, are required to be licensed with the SFC, however pure prop traders may be exempt from the requirement
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

15. Share Registrars
  • Appointed by a listed company to maintain a register of shareholders
  • Plays an important role in an IPO
  • A list of Hong Kong registrars is available from SEHK
  • Provides the following services for shareholders:
    1. Distribution of dividends and bonus shares
    2. Mailing of financial reports to shareholders
    3. Transfer of shares
    4. Issuance of share certificates
    5. Distribution of investor communications
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

16. Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEx)
  • The SFC supervises and monitors the activities of all HKEx companies
  • All exchange companies and clearing houses are 100% owned subsidiaries of HKEx and consist of:
    • Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited
    • Hong Kong Futures Exchange Limited
    • Hong Kong Securities Clearing Company Limited
    • SEHK Options and Clearing House Limited
    • HKFE Clearing Corporation Limited
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

17. Securities and Futures Commission

An independent statutory body responsible for administering the laws governing the securities and futures markets in Hong Kong. Its main objectives are to:

  • Develop and maintain competitive, efficient, fair, orderly and transparent securities and futures markets
  • Help the public understand the workings of the securities and futures markets
  • Protect the investing public
  • Minimize crime and misconduct in the securities and futures markets
  • Reduce systemic risks in the securities and futures industry
  • Assist the Government in maintaining financial stability
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

 TOPIC 4 – TYPES OF SECURITIES
18. Call and Put Options
  • A call option is the right to buy an underlying asset at a specified price (strike price) on or before a specified date (expiry date)
  • A put option is the right to sell an underlying asset at a specified price (strike price) on or before a specified date (expiry date)
  • Taking up the right is known as exercising the option
  • The seller (writer) of an option has an obligation to sell/buy when the option is exercised by the buyer (holder)
  • Unlike futures and forwards, the buyer of an option has no obligation to sell or buy the underlying asset, but will exercise if it is profitable to do so
  • The price paid to purchase an option is known as the option premium and is paid to the option seller
  • Examples of exchange-traded options are: options on shares; options on indices; and options on futures
  • Value of an option = intrinsic value + time value
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

19. Option Values

Value of a Call Option: Example

A call option on the shares of Examinator Online has a strike price of HK$25.  If the call option is priced at HK$7.50 per option, what is the intrinsic and time values of the option if the spot price of Examinator Online is:

  • HK$28 per share
  • HK$22 per share

Answer

HK$28 per share

Option value      = intrinsic value + time value

HK$7.50            = HK$3 + time value

Time value        = HK$4.50

HK$22 per share

Option value      = intrinsic value + time value

HK$7.50            = HK$0 + time value

Time value        = HK$7.50

Value of a Put Option: Example

A put option on the shares of Examinator Online has a strike price of HK$88.  If the put option is priced at HK$28.50 per option, what is the intrinsic and time values of the option if the spot price of Examinator Online is:

  • HK$68 per share
  • HK$100 per share

Answer

HK$68 per share

Option value      = intrinsic value + time value

HK$28.50          = HK$20 + HK$8.50

Time value        = HK$8.50

HK$100 per share

Option value      = intrinsic value + time value

HK$28.50          = HK$0 + time value

Time value        = HK$28.50

[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

20. Warrants

Equity warrants (also called company warrants) carry the right to subscribe for the underlying stock of the issuer

  • Although warrants are less certain, as to the funds raised in the future, than rights issues, there will in general be no immediate dilution effect to shareholdings before the warrants are exercised
  • Holders are not entitled to dividends

The following are advantages in issuing warrants for the underlying companies:

  • New capital is raised when the warrants are exercised
  • Relatively inexpensive to issue
  • Traded on SEHK, providing a liquid secondary market for warrant holders
  • Can be used as “sweeteners” when issuing bonds or with IPOs or as an additional bonus in good years
  • Can replace cash dividends in poor cash-flow years
  • Shareholder base can be broadened when warrants are exercised

Derivative warrants (also called covered warrants) are similar to equity warrants but are issued by a party that is independent of the issuer of the underlying securities of the company and its subsidiaries

  • Majority in Hong Kong are settled in cash
  • Can be call or put warrants
  • May be issued over assets other than securities (such as currencies or commodities)
  • Index warrants, basket warrants and single stock warrants are commonly issued in Hong Kong
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

21. Margin Financing
  • An investor borrows money to purchase securities, and uses those securities as collateral against the loan
  • The acquisition of securities can be at a fraction of the cost, but profits or losses are realized on the full value of the securities
  • Brokers usually re-pledge securities in margin accounts to other financial institutions to obtain funding for the investors, charging the investors interest
  • Brokers need to obtain client authorisation to re-pledge securities
  • A margin ratio of 70% means the investor has to pay 30% of the cost while borrowing the remaining 70% from the margin financier

Margin Financing: Example

Ivan Investor is to buy 40,000 shares of Gearupco at HK$100 per share and his broker is willing to offer an 80% margin on the company’s shares.  If Ivan takes the full margin financing, calculate the following, assuming no interest expenses nor other charges.

  1. Minimum amount that Ivan has to pay to buy the shares
  2. Maximum amount of funds that Ivan can borrow from his broker
  3. Ivan’s return on investment if Ivan sells the shares at HK$120 per share
  4. Ivan’s return on investment if Ivan sells the shares at HK$88 per share

 Answer

1. Minimum payment =  40,000 shares x HK$100 x 20%

=  HK$800,000

2. Maximum borrowing =  40,000 shares x HK$100 x 80%

=  HK$3,200,000

3. Return on investment =  [(HK$120 – HK$100) x 40,000]/800,000

=  100%

4. Return on investment = [(HK$88 – HK$100) x 40,000]/800,000

=  -60%

[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

22. Unit Trusts and Mutual Funds
  • A pooling of investors’ funds or contributions which are invested in a portfolio of assets such as equities, bonds or currencies
  • Unit trusts are managed funds with a trustee holding the assets on behalf of, and for the benefit of, the beneficiaries
  • Mutual funds have a different legal structure to unit trusts. While a unit trust is a trust, a mutual fund is established as a company
Unit Trusts vs Mutual FundsUnit TrustsMutual Funds
Form of establishmentTrustLimited liability company
BeneficiaryUnit-holdersShareholders
Governing lawTrustee lawCompanies law
Legal document in which the rules are detailedTrust deedCompany’s articles/bye laws and custodian agreement
Who protects investor interestsTrusteeCustodian
Who owns or holds the fund assetsTrustee for the benefit of the investorsMutual fund company
Who is liableTrusteeCompany has limited liability; directors can be liable
  • Source: Hong Kong Investment Funds Association
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

23. Pricing of Discounted Securities

The majority of short-term securities are priced at a discount

P = [FV/(1+[r x n/365])]

  • P          price (present value)
  • FV       face value of instrument
  • r           annual interest rate
  • n          number of days to maturity

Pricing Discounted Securities Example

A 90-day banker’s acceptance has a face value of HK$100,000 with an interest rate of 5%.  What is the current fair market price?

Answer

FV = 100,000 / [1 + (0.05 x (90/365))]

= 100,000/1.0123

= HK$98,785

[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

24. Calculating Bond Prices

The current price of a bond is the present value of future coupon payments and the face value at maturity

YearCash FlowAmount (HK$)Discount FactorPV of Cash Flow
1Coupon100.9269.26
2Coupon100.8578.57
3Coupon100.7947.94
3Principal1000.79479.40
Bond price105.17
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

25. Duration
  • A measure of duration approximates to the percentage change in a bond price for a 1% change in interest rates
  • Can also be thought of as the average number of years it takes for the discounted cash flow to be returned to the investor
  • The longer the time to maturity, the higher the duration
  • The lower the yield, the higher the duration
  • The lower the coupon rate, the higher the duration
  • Duration is commonly given as Modified Duration, which is Macauley Duration adusted for one yield measure
  • % change in bond price  =  – Duration x change in yield

Bond Duration Example

If a 5-year bond has a modified duration of 6 and is currently trading at HK$9,750, what approximate price will the bond move to if the bond yield increases by 1%?

Answer

% change in bond price  = -6 x 1%

= -6%

New bond price  = HK$9,750 x (1 – 0.06)

= HK$9,165

[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

26. Factors Affecting Option Prices

There are 6 major factors that affect the price of an option (option premium):

  • Spot price
  • Strike price
  • Interest rate
  • Volatility of underlying stock price
  • Time to expiry
  • Dividend
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

27. Risk Parameters: Delta

The delta of an option measures the sensitivity of the option price to changes in the price of the underlying stock

∆  = Dollar change in option price/Dollar change in underlying stock price

  • The delta value of a long call/short put is always between 0 and 1
  • The delta value of a long put/short call is always between -1 and 0
Option

Delta Value

In-the-moneyAt-the-moneyOut-of-the-money
Long call/short putUp to 10.5Down to 0
Long put/short callDown to -1-0.5Up to 0
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

28. Other Risk Parameters
  • Gamma measures the rate of change in the option delta
  • Vega measures the change in option price for a 1% change in volatility of the underlying stock price
  • Theta measures the effect of the passage of time on the option price
  • The Rho of an option measures the rate of change in the value of an option with respect to changes in the risk-free interest rate
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

29. Option Pricing
  • The three most commonly used models to price options are:
    1. Binomial option pricing model
    2. Black-Scholes-Merton option pricing model
    3. Simulation
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

TOPIC 5 – STOCK MARKET ADMINISTRATION
30. Orion Trading Platform – Securities Market
  • OTP-C offers a scalable, flexible and high performing cash equity trading platform based on open systems technology
  • OTP-C was introduced in February 2018 to replace AMS/3, the third generation of Automatic Order Matching and Execution System, launched in October 2000
  • When placing an order, the investor must provide:
    • An account number
    • Stock name and code
    • Quantity to be bought/sold and the price limit
  • Orders are placed with an Exchange Participant via telephone, mobile or internet
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

31. Types of Orders

During the pre-opening session, only “at-auction” and “at-auction limit” orders are accepted by AMS/3:

  • At-auction order: an order with no specified price – unfilled orders are automatically cancelled at the end of the pre-opening session
  • At-auction limit order: an order with a specified price – unfilled orders at the end of the pre-opening session are converted to limit orders and carried forward to the continuous trading session, provided specified price does not deviate 9 times or more from prevailing nominal price

During the continuous trading session, orders accepted by AMS/3 are:

  • Limit order: matching can only occur at the specified price. The sell order price cannot be below the best bid price, whereas the buy order price cannot be above the best ask price.  Any unfilled orders join the price queue
  • Enhanced limit order: allows matching of up to 10 price queues
  • Special limit order: allows matching of up to 10 price queues, and there is no restriction on input price. Any unfilled orders will be cancelled
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

32. Shanghai and Shenzhen – Hong Kong Stock Connects
  • There are daily quotas for the value of shares traded on both the Northbound and Soutbound links of SH/SZ-HK Stock Connects. The quotas are expected to be expanded as the program evolves.
  • The current Northbound trading link daily quota is Rmb52 billion
  • The current Southbound trading link daily quota is Rmb42 billion
  • The daily quotas are calculated on a “net buy” basis
  • Sell trades increase the available quota. Investors are always allowed to sell their cross-border securities.  The daily quota is reset to zero at the beginning of each trading day
  • Buy trades are subject to availability in the respective quotas. If the available aggregate quota is less than the daily quota, only sell trades will be permitted on that day
  • Trading under both Northbound and Southbound links is through local securities firms who are exchange participants/members or have arrangements with participants to execute orders
  • Southbound executed trades are settled on the usual T+2 basis, however Northbound executed trades are settled on the trade day for securities settlement and T+1 for cash settlement
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

33. Clearing and Settlement

The Central Clearing and Settlement System (CCASS) operates as follows:

During Trading Day (T)

  • Trade data automatically transferred from SEHK trading system to CCASS
  • Clearing Participants receive Provisional Clearing Statements through CCASS terminals after 5pm (current day’s SEHK trades) and after 8pm (exercised option trades)
  • Trades reconciled with internal records

(T+1)

  • Final clearing statements available after 2pm
  • Continuous Net Settlement (CNS) system offsets stock transactions in the same security on the same day resulting in a single net stock position for the day
  • Through novation, HKSCC guarantees both sides of the trade

(T+2)

  • SEHK trades settled by electronic debit and credit entries to CCASS Clearing Participants’ (CPs) stock accounts

(T+3)

  • Money settlement by CPs through designated banks confirmed in the morning
  • CPs who do not have sufficient stock in their CCASS accounts will be subject to a compulsory buy-in
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

 34. Transaction Costs in Stock Trading

Brokerage House

  • No minimum
  • Negotiable between brokerage house and investors

The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited

Transaction Levy and Investor Compensation Levy

  • Two levies charged by the SEHK on each purchase/sale of securities on behalf of SFC
  • Transaction levy of 0.0027%
  • Investor compensation levy of 0.002% – suspended since 19 December 2005

Trading Fee

  • 0.005% charged to both buyer and seller and paid to SEHK

Trading Tariff

  • HK$0.50 charged on each purchase/sale payable to SEHK

The Government

Ad Valorem Stamp Duty

  • 0.1% on each purchase/sale

Transfer Deed Stamp Duty

  • HK$5 charged to seller, irrespective of quantity traded

Transfer Fee

  • Registrar of each listed company charges HK$2.50 per share certificate on buyers
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

TOPIC 6 – SECURITIES ANALYSIS
 35. Fundamental and Technical Analysis
  • The two common methods used to analyse securities are:
    • Fundamental analysis: assigns an intrinsic value to a stock by considering the company’s financials and operations, asset values, anticipated earnings and growth potential, and the economic environment and business cycles
    • Technical analysis: studies technical factors such as price movements, volume and trading activity as indicators of future trends
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

36. Liquidity Ratios
  • Measure a company’s ability to meet its short-term financial obligations. We will consider the following four liquidity ratios:
    • Current ratio
    • Quick ratio
    • Inventory turnover
    • Debtors’ turnover

Current Ratio

  • Reflects a company’s ability to repay its current liabilities
  • Current ratio = Current assets/Current liabilities

Quick Ratio

  • Provides a more accurate measure of short-term liquidity as inventory is excluded from current assets
  • Quick ratio = (Current assets – inventories)/Current liabilities

Inventory Turnover

  • Measures how quickly inventories are turned over or sold. Generally, the quicker inventories are sold, the better, however it is important to be aware of the types of goods involved.  Expensive goods usually turn over more slowly than cheaper goods
  • Inventory turnover = Cost of goods sold/Average inventories

Debtors’ Turnover

  • Shows how long it takes for a company, on average, to collect its receivables
  • Debtors’ turnover = Sales/Average receivables
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

 37. Valuation of Equity Securities
  • There are a number of methods by which to value equity securities. The four that are considered in this section are:
    • Dividend discount model
    • Dividend growth model
    • Price earnings model
    • Capital asset pricing model
[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

 38. Dividend Growth Model

The dividend valuation model is made more realistic by assuming that a company’s dividend grows each year at a constant rate

Formula:  P = D(1+g)/(r-g)

  • P     =          price of the share
  • D     =          annual dividend just paid
  • r      =          investor required rate of return (discount rate)
  • g      =          expected dividend growth rate

Dividend Growth Model Example

Calculate the expected share price of Growco Limited if the company has just paid a dividend of HKD10 per share and the dividend is expected to grow 5% per year.  The investor’s required rate of return is 10%

Answer

Share price = HKD10 x (1.05)/(0.10 – 0.05)

= HKD210

[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

 39. Price Earnings Model
  • The PE model is simple. The PE of a similar company is applied to a company’s earnings to arrive at an estimated value
  • This approach to company valuation is easy and straight forward, but the resulting value is usually adjusted for a company’s unique circumstances

Price Earnings Model Example

Calculate the value of a share of Growco Limited if the company has just reported Earnings per Share of HKD10 and a similar listed company is trading at a PE of 23

Answer

Share value = HKD10 x 23

= HKD230

[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]

 

 40.Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM)
  • CAPM provides the expected return on an equity, given the risk-free return and the risk-weighted market premium of the stock in question
  • Beta (β) is a measure of the sensitivity of company’s return on equity to a change in the overall market return

Formula:  R =  Rf + β(Rm – Rf)

  • R      =          expected rate of return
  • Rf      =          risk-free rate
  • Rm    =          expected rate of return on a market portfolio
  • β       =          stock’s beta value

Capital Asset Pricing Model Example

What is the expected return on shares of Growco Limited if:

  • Expected market return                  5%
  • Risk-free rate of return                   1%
  • Company beta of Growco              1.5

Answer

Expected return = 1%  +  1.5(5% – 1%)

= 7%

[For Paper 8 practice questions, go to Examinator.online – Paper 8]