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More taking CAIA exams as alternative investment industry grows

Date: Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Author: Yvonne Cheong, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : As a growing number of hedge funds set up base in Singapore, there is increasing demand for talent in the financial services industry.

And a new finance qualification, the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA), is gaining popularity among Singaporeans hoping to make their mark in the sector.

For 26-year-old Chua Yingwen, it wasn't enough to have a business degree majoring in finance.

She sat for further exams to qualify as a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst to boost her expertise in alternative investments.

"People who want to do CAIA are those who want to go into alternative investments but if you're not sure where to start, I think CAIA is a good starting ground. We see a lot of private bankers, wealth management people starting to do CAIA because there's been a growing trend amongst rich individuals who want to put money into alternative investments. These are not necessarily hedge funds; they could be private equity, real estate, commodities or futures," said Chua, senior analyst at GFIA.

So far, only 42 individuals in Singapore have the CAIA qualification.

But the demand is expected to increase with the private banking sector in Asia set to grow at 8-9 percent annually.

"It includes the big investment banks which need alternative specialists such as traders, point brokers and sales people. You need analysts who can understand hedge funds, including private bankers who need to understand the product that they are selling to their clients. So it's a pretty broad spectrum of financial services business," said Peter Douglas, CAIA, Chairman of Singapore Chapter, Alternative Investment Management Association.

The CAIA is a new qualification introduced in Singapore just eight years ago.

Most people are more familiar with the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).

"As a general base for a financial services career, CFA is exactly what you need. But if you need to be in the alternative investment industry, where you're trying to make a switch from another part of the financial services world into alternatives, then CAIA is absolutely the right qualification," said Douglas.

The CFA qualification is still in demand and there some 2,300 Chartered Financial Analysts in Singapore.

Experts in the equity research field said the CFA qualification has increasingly become the passport of entry into the industry. - CNA /ls