Business and Commerce Management Trainee Programs Jobs Guide
What do I need to get a job in this industry?
There are several paths of study available to tertiary business students in Hong Kong. While all the main bachelor degrees equip students with a broad base of business skills and knowledge (necessary for any job in the competitive commercial sector), there are many different specialisations available in the form of majors and minors, and these will be most important in determining the career possibilities available to graduates.
The main business degrees available for study at major Hong Kong universities include:
- Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
The BBA is the most common tertiary degree for students planning to enter the commercial sector. It provides a general base of knowledge, but allows for many specialisations through major choices. Some universities may offer versions of the BBA that are completely geared towards a specialisation, such as Accounting and Finance (which prepares students to attain a professional accounting qualification); and International Business and Global Management (which integrates exchange study into the curriculum of the degree).
- Bachelor of Business Administration (Combined)
Combining a BBA with another degree, such as a Bachelor of Engineering or a Bachelor of Laws, is a popular choice that many students take to increase their career possibilities or to increase their skills in their area of interest.
- Bachelor of Economics
The Bachelor of Economics is less generalist than the BBA, teaching the application of economic theory and statistics, coupled with an understanding of human behaviour, to enable students to solve economic problems in all aspects of commerce.
- Bachelor of Economics (Combined)
As with the BBA, the BEcon can be combined in a double degree with specialisations such as finance. This is especially relevant to students thinking of entering the banking sector.
In today’s global economy, the ability to communicate fluently in multiple languages is increasingly important. A strong grasp of both Chinese (Cantonese or Mandarin – preferably both) and English is required for most business jobs. Knowledge of other languages (such as Japanese, French or Malay) can be a way to stand out as employers look favourably on such things.
Major Choice and Job Direction in Business
Here follows a list of some of the major choices available to Hong Kong business students. Most universities will offer variants on these main specialties, and some may additionally provide other choices. Remember that major choices are not prescriptive, but an indicator of future career possibilities.
Accountants record, measure and analyse companies’ financial performance and position, then prepare statements to present to internal management and external stakeholders.
- Business Design and Innovation
Business Design and Innovation is a multidisciplinary course designed to foster a student’s creativity. This course prepares students for careers as entrepreneurs, but is also useful for students looking to enter management consulting, marketing or strategy.
- Human Resource Management (HRM)
HRM is essential to the functioning of all large organisations, whether for-profit or non-profit. Graduates of this specialisation may enter the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management, and may work as managers, training coordinators, recruitment officers or employment relations consultants.
Marketing is central to successful business. It involves identifying and satisfying a consumer need in a way that competitors cannot, and communicating that differentiable advantage in a memorable fashion to customers, so that they choose to purchase from your company rather than your competitors. While marketing is a useful course for anyone to take who looks to enter the business world, specialised marketing jobs are common, usually falling into one or more of the following marketing disciplines: advertising, public relations, brand management, e-marketing, customer relationships management, internal marketing and marketing research.
- Information Systems
An Information Systems Major provides a business perspective on the digital revolution. Students will graduate with an understanding of how technological change shapes modern business practice, drives globalisation and opens new product and service opportunities – and will gain practical skills in information technology – giving them an edge in any field of business. Specialised career paths include business intelligence, digital security, systems development and consulting.
- Finance/Wealth Management
Finance teachesprovides students with the knowledge and skills needed for a career in banking. Students learn how to price and manage financial assets, analyse financial markets and develop share portfolios. Possible career paths include commercial or investment banking, financial planning and risk management.
- International Business
How businesses conduct their operations in the global market is the focus of this major, which teaches how the fiscal, monetary and political actions of national governments, as well as countries’ cultural milieus, influence international trade. The impact on globalisation of technological factors such as digital communication and the increasing speed of logistics will also be explored. Graduates of this course usually go on to work for multinational corporations in such careers as import and export officer, brand manager, international equity officer or cross-cultural advisor.
- Quantitative Finance
Quantitative Finance teaches students how to apply mathematical, statistical and computer skills to financial problems. This major has more of a technical focus than the straight Finance major, however they work well together and some skills and courses are interchangeable. Quantitative Finance graduates are equipped with the specialised skills and broad knowledge required to work in hedge funds, risk management, financial analysis or financial engineering.
- Actuarial Finance
Actuarial Finance teaches the specialised quantitative statistical and mathematical skills required for a career in risk-assessment or insurance.
Macroeconomic Trends and Job Prospects for Graduate Schemes
Hong Kong’s financial services industry is absolutely central to its economy, and to its status as a centre for global trade. Many multinational corporations use Hong Kong as a place from which to conduct business in the Asia Pacific, attracted to its low tax rate and few tariffs. Hong Kong’s strong ties to the rising economic power of mainland China are combined with an international outlook, making it an attractive place for ambitious graduates to work. However while Hong Kong’s economy weathered the financial downturn better than many other countries, meaning job opportunities for graduates have shrunk somewhat and the number of management trainee programs offered by companies has also declined. Additionally in recent years there has been an increase in the influx of highly qualified jobseekers – rising numbers of graduates from within Hong Kong, mainland China and foreign countries compete for a limited number of jobs. To secure a place in a graduate scheme, applicants must be extremely well qualified (with practical experience in the industry), must have strong networking skills and cultural knowledge, and be excellent communicators in both Chinese and English.
Starting salaries for business jobs in Hong Kong vary by specialty. At the high end, management consultants’ starting salaries can be as much as HK$500,000, while investment bankers can earn up to HK$282,000 in their first year. Financial services start around HK$195,232, while graduate marketers start from HK$144,000 and graduate accountants earn HK$141,499 (Payscale).
The cost of living in Hong Kong is high, especially when it comes to housing. Fortunately many banks and financial services firms subsidise their employees’ housing, making it more affordable.