There is an increasing need for continuous training in the banking and finance industry to accommodate rapid changes brought about by Hong Kong's booming economy.
Recognising the growing requirement for reputable financial planners, the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) last year launched the Certified Financial Management Planner (CFMP) programme, emphasising investment and market knowledge, banking practices and services, communication skills and ethics.
The CFMP programme was a response to financial management market needs, states Carrie Leung, chief executive officer, the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB). She says that, as the programme's provider, the HKIB has accumulated more than 40 years of industry experience. "We are the only banking institution eligible to grant professional banking qualifications," Ms Leung points out. "While the HKIB has a long and solid history, we received valuable support from banks and financial institutions while designing the CFMP programme."
With many local financial institutions affiliated with the HKIB, its membership base includes a large range of corporate and individual members, while its committees comprise of representatives from at least 14 banks and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which provides input as a regulator.
While industry support played a role in the successful launch of the CFMP programme, the HKIB, on its part, assists regulators. "Through training, we have been helping practitioners to understand industry regulations and their applications," Ms Leung explains. "Anti-money laundering and KYC (know your customers) in banking, for example, have always been our focus."
So far more than 1,500 people have pursued their studies through the programme. Ms Leung notes, "More than 10 banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions are already using our programme for their in-house training." She says the upcoming October intake will consist of individual private students including banking and finance practitioners who are already in the field but whose employers are not yet offering CFMP training.
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Business School acts as the HKIB's CFMP academic advisor. The programme consists of two parts: the academic framework and its applications. The HKIB stresses the application side, as well as the latest developments in the industry, through its close ties with banks and other financial institutions. On the academic side, the HKUST Business School ensures that the programme contents meet international standard and practices.
Since knowledge of the mainland China perspective is crucial in the industry, the HKIB also meets annually with the China Banking Regulatory Commission, the People's Bank of China and the China Banking Association to discuss future training needs. "They provide us with information on the latest developments in China for our training programmes," Ms Leung remarks, adding that the HKIB also receives about 50 study tours comprising of 20 to 40 participants each from China yearly. Such interactions provide golden opportunities for all parties to keep abreast of the latest banking developments.
There are three key features that distinguish the CFMP from other programmes, according to Ms Leung. "Firstly, the content focuses on unique banking elements," she explains. "A practitioner from a non-banking background studying financial planning through the programme will gain knowledge not only about investment products, but also about banking products. Students wanting to learn about banking products, laws and practices through financial training will find that the proramme kills two birds with one stone."
Secondly, says Ms Leung, students have the benefit of a flexible learning methodology, in line with the HKIB's tradition. "You can either choose self-study or systematic classroom training, as participants at senior level may not require compulsory classroom attendance," she continues.
Thirdly, the CFMP has a China element, including information on the latest developments in banking in China. "Apart from the banking element, we have two separate study streams: a Hong Kong stream and a mainland China one, emphasising products, rules and regulations on the mainland. The Hong Kong stream does, however, also include some aspects related to recent banking developments in China," she adds.
The CFMP programme provides a specialist focus with a broad foundation for continuous learning and in-depth analysis, to promote understanding of the different terminologies in the ever-changing banking and finance industry. The programme benefits not only individual learners and students undergoing in-house training, but also a number of client-driven insurance companies that are incorporating financial planning into their one-stop services.
The wide scope of the CFMP programme is designed to equip participants with the information and background knowledge they need to confidently serve banking clients. An excellent relationship between financial planners and customers is a boon for the industry, Ms Leung concludes.