Hong Kong inched past Japan a few years ago and now has the longest life expectancy in the world – 84.7 years in 2020. But this means that retirement life is likely to extend to 20 years or more for many people, so investing early and smartly is crucial for citizens to be able to enjoy their retirement to the fullest.
To learn more about the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) industry in Hong Kong and the wide range of careers available, a group of students from Heep Yunn School visited BCT Group (BCT Financial Limited/Bank Consortium Trust Company Limited) on 6 May.
Students first learned about the basics of MPF from Eddy Yeung, First Vice President, Pension Services. Launched in 2000, the MPF is a compulsory savings scheme to provide for the retirement of Hong Kong residents. Yeung explained the three types of MPF accounts: contribution account, personal account and the tax-deductible voluntary contribution (TVC) account. He also introduced some of the different operators within the MPF industry, such as the trustee, scheme administrator and fund manager.
Iris Lam, Associate Director, Human Resources, then introduced BCT Group's history and the various departments in the organization, for example legal and compliance, pension services and internal audit. Lam said that students interested in studying accounting do not necessarily have to limit their career options to accountancy firms, and could also consider jobs related to fund services. Some accountancy positions may require specific qualifications like the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, she added.
Students then heard from CSR Assistant, Joanne Yu. While studying fashion and textile marketing at university, a course about green fashion sparked Yu's interest in sustainable business practices and corporate social responsibility (CSR). She explained that besides organizing volunteer activities for staff, her duties also include managing the company's social media platforms.
Following a tour of the offices, the students took part in a workshop about interview etiquette and skills. Cathy So, Assistant Manager, Human Resources – Learning & Development, started the session with a video showing some interviewing do's and don'ts. So suggested paying attention to gestures, as positive body language can convey confidence and genuine interest. For example, making hand gestures to emphasize words and convey your message.
Often, the first question in any interview will simply ask candidates to introduce themselves. Getting this step right will help interviewees to start on the right note. Students took turns to practice self-introduction in small groups, and then received feedback and further tips from the BCT staff.
Bonnie So, Vice President, Human Resources, advised students to anticipate what follow-up questions the interviewer may ask, based on their self-introduction. Candidates should also make sure they are familiar with the information available on the company website, and be careful not to mix up information if they have interviews with multiple companies.
"It would be a plus if you know any recent news about the company," added So.
Sometimes, interviewers ask tough questions such as "what is your greatest weakness?" or "why should we hire you when you have no experience?"
"Interviewers are not trying to embarrass you," said Yeung. He explained that this is a technique used by employers to test if candidates can respond appropriately and stay calm in difficult situations, especially when hiring for pressurized positions like frontline staff.
The visit concluded with a talk by Ka Shi Lau, Managing Director and CEO of BCT Group, about her life and work experience, and her insights on leading the company through the challenge of the pandemic.
Businesses in Hong Kong have been comparatively slow to adopt new technologies, Lau said. While Covid-19 is a pressing threat to business, it is also a catalyst for change and innovation driving businesses to embrace digital transformation. Lau used this as an example to demonstrate that people should learn to see the good in the bad and stay resilient during tough times.
Lau also noted the importance for businesses to adapt and create value, to enable them to stay in the game in an ever-changing world. The same applies to people – you must stay relevant and valuable to keep a competitive edge. Last but not least, Lau encouraged the girls to pursue their dreams and reminded them not to measure their own success with other people's ruler.