Economics Graduate and Management Trainee Programs in Hong Kong
The field of economics deals with the allocation and distribution of finite resources between decision-making units such as businesses, households, individuals and governments, in an attempt to efficiently and effectively find a way to satisfy the limitless variety of human needs. Flows of supply, demand, production, consumption and distribution, as well as the impact and interrelation of micro- and macro-economic factors are also examined. While economists traditionally work in commerce, the science of economic analysis can be applied to other industries such as healthcare, education, law, science, and applied to government also. As a result, economists can find work in all aspects of society.
What do you need to do to get a job in this industry?
In Hong Kong, there are a couple of degree options for an aspiring economist. Economics can be studied at a major level in the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), or alternatively a student can choose to go more in depth with a Bachelor of Economics. There is also a variety of other combinations such as double degrees available at various universities.
What kind of jobs can you get with a degree in Economics?
Some of the more common career paths for economics graduates are summarised below:
- Market Research Analyst
These professionals gather data from the market and apply mathematical and statistical tools to transform the data into usable information for decision-makers such as managers and marketers. Some of their work might involve assessing how a new product might fare if introduced to a certain target market, or assessing how customers feel about a brand in relation to its competitors.
- Economics Consultant
Economics consultants provide valuable advice to clients in a diverse range of industry sectors, including government and social services agencies, infrastructure, transport, resources and of course all manner of commercial enterprises. Economics consultants utilise a blend of research and analysis to advise on such things as business case development, product introduction, feasibility studies for private and government projects, cost-benefit analyses and economic impact analyses. They may also work in legal cases to calculate the economic value of intellectual property, forecast damages and advise on regulatory compliance.
- Compensation and Benefits Manager
People with a background in economics may also find work in HR. Compensation and benefits managers play a crucial role in the human resources department of large organisations. They draw upon economic and market trends, and information gleaned from reports into the pay and benefits packages of competing employers in the industry, to put together attractive yet fair pay and benefit scheme to attract and reward the right employees.
Risk management and insurance is another industry where economics graduates often find work. While becoming an actuary requires more advanced statistical and mathematical skills than are required of all economics students, there are options for study within economics or combined economics degrees to study the higher maths and statistics required to prepare for a career in actuarial studies. For those able to master the maths, and are computer-literate, an economics background is good preparation for a career as an actuary, or other jobs within risk management.
- Credit Analyst
Economics graduates often find work in the commercial or merchant banking industries. Microeconomic analysis (into factors like competitors, history and region) is key to the job of a credit analyst, whose role is to assess the risks a creditor will take in lending money to an individual or business, which will have direct bearing on the amount of interest charged.
- Financial Analyst
Financial analysts assess the risks and potential benefits involved with various investments, such as stocks and commodities. They are particularly important to the Investment Banking industry, but they may also advise on venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, and may work for financial institutions or within the finance departments of big corporations.
- Policy Analyst
For those looking to work in government, economics is a solid foundation for a career as a policy analyst, as the proper distribution of tax and behaviour of government in such areas as foreign investment, tariffs, infrastructure and international trade are all reliant on the recommendations of economic experts.
- Management Consultant
Management consultants use research, in-depth analysis and creativity to improve business performance, fix existing problems with the business and assist with strategy development. They are often called to assist with change management (such as in the case of radical organisational redesign or technology implementation).
- Business Reporter
Business reporting is a stimulating career choice for economics graduates looking for a career in media, who seek a fast-paced job and who have a flair for written and verbal communication. These professionals have the responsibility for communicating the latest happenings in the economy to the average person, and as such need a thorough understanding of economic principles and the ability to stay up-to-date on the behaviour of the market, across many different sectors.
Because the career paths for economics graduates are many and diverse, the way to go about obtaining industry experience will vary. For those with ambition to enter the banking industry and later become a financial or credit analyst, or those looking for experience in actuarial studies, it is recommended to apply for one of the internships offered at financial institutions. However, these positions are few, compared to the great demand, and only the best each year are selected, therefore it is advisable to also seek out small to medium businesses, and work for them (e.g. helping them organise their finances), or to work part-time as a teller in a smaller commercial bank.
To get an edge, while seeking work experience, join economics and finance clubs at your university. They often organise events and competitions which give students the opportunity to undertake market research, analyse the financial performance of a company or make policy recommendations. Talk to your professors and tutors. They are often good contacts who may be able to help you in your career later on.
Salary Estimates and Benefits
Starting salaries are above the average for most economics graduates, although of course it varies depending on the job and employer. Actuarial and financial analysts start around HK $200 000, while management consultants can start from as high HK$500,000. Of course, salaries increase with years’ experience.
Common benefits for workers in financial institutions include medical care and salary bonuses for good performance.