Commentators have lamented the sad state of multiple-choice examinations as a way of verifying financial market practitioners’ knowledge. Many experienced finance executives arriving in Hong Kong, to take up exciting job opportunities, find themselves pouring over detailed study manuals before they have a chance to unpack their bags. “Why am I doing this?” is a familiar response from reluctant mature students who have seen much of what the financial markets can throw at them.

However, would seasoned financial practitioners, new to Hong Kong, voluntarily spend 20 to 30 hours learning about the City’s financial regulatory framework, if it were not for an exam? Would they get to grips with the relationship between the SFC and the HKMA or appreciate the history behind naked short-selling in Hong Kong and the resulting tight legislation? Unlikely. As galling as it may be, the SFC licensing exams are a very effective way of bringing new Hong Kong finance practitioners bang up-to-date with local issues. Candidates should remember, do not be influenced by previous experience of the real world. Answer as the examiner expects for 60 to 90 minutes. Checking your brain at the door is sensible advice.

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