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  •  Joseph Yam: train more talents for top-notch financial infrastructure
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    Mr Joseph Yam was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration by the OUHK in 2001.

    Mr Yam with OUHK Council Chairman Mr Charles Lee.

    Hong Kong has surpassed Singapore and Japan in its financial infrastructure, but needs to strengthen its education and training for people in the field, according to Mr Joseph Yam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and 2001 Honorary Doctor of the OUHK.

    Mr Yam said the small size of the market in Hong Kong is limiting the turnover of practitioners in the financial industry. The international financial landscape has been changing so rapidly in recent years that executives must broaden their horizons and learn fast to meet the new challenges.

    As a learning organization, the HKMA is doing its bit by paying a lot of attention to the professional development of its staff. It maintains close ties with universities and promotes public understanding of financial issues through exhibitions and other activities. Mr Yam publishes an article on the HKMA's webpage every week, while other staff organize regular talks to university and secondary school students. Mr Yam suggests universities work more closely with the financial industry to provide better training for people in the field.

    Mr Yam joined the civil service after graduating from the University of Hong Kong with a first class honours degree and rose through the ranks to become an economist and later the HKMA's Chief Executive. He has kept up his knowledge of finance and economics through on-the-job training and self-learning. 'Having a clear goal is important for both work and study. It gives us a sense of direction and helps us to stay focused,' he said.

    Once a goal has been identified, he channels all his energy towards achieving it and wastes no time on irrelevant matters. He said one must be selective in choosing what to learn and how to spend one's time in this age of information explosion where myriad thoughts and ideas compete for our attention. Moreover, one must be able to continuously adjust one's goals in view of changing circumstances and the new knowledge gained.

    But Mr Yam is no workaholic. He still finds time to go hiking every week and likes to read the plays of William Shakespeare. He believes physical exercise is good for his mind and English literature useful in polishing his self-expression.

    He believes knowledge cannot be constructed from an individual's experience only, and to turn knowledge into wisdom, we need to internalize it. One must learn to articulate and communicate one's viewpoints with others, be prepared to have them challenged, and reflect upon them to arrive at a balanced and accurate picture. His weekly articles are but one of the many opportunities of cross-fertilization with peers.

    Mr Yam is sanguine about the economy in the medium term and believes it could only go up after the hectic seven to eight per cent annual real growth in gross domestic product in the mainland.

    Hong Kong's balance of payments in the fourth quarter of last year and the first quarter of this year has reached a historic high, strongly proving that deflation over the last few years has already strengthened the competitiveness of the territory.

    'The development of information technology has created for us a globalized world where financial turmoil, crime and disease can travel at an unprecedentedly fast speed. Despite the inflated risks, new opportunities for growth abound, as in the case of online learning and financial services,' Mr Yam said.

    'Globalization is an irreversible trend that we can always take advantage of. For example, the HKMA had made use of information technology to launch the Euro Clearing System, which was the first of its kind in Asia, on 28 April. The System allows financial institutions in Hong Kong and the region to settle euro transactions real-time in the Asian time zone and eliminate foreign exchange settlement risks arising from time zone differences,' he added.

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