Money Moves

A flexible qualification

Certified Financial Consultants can be drawn from a surprisingly wide range of professions, writes KS Lau

Another financial planning credential that can be attained in Hong Kong is that of Certified Financial Consultant (CFC). A relatively new designation for financial consultants and financial planners, it provides more flexibility and another choice for financial planning practitioners aspiring to earn a recognised qualification.

The designation of CFC is awarded by the Institute of Financial Consultants (IFC), a non-profit-making professional body based in Canada and the United States and registered with the National Certification Commission, USA. The institute is multidisciplinary, drawing its members from the related but separate fields of accountancy, insurance, law, funds management, tax and pensions.

The Institute of Financial Consultants - Hong Kong Branch (IFC-HK) is authorised by the IFC to advocate the CFC designation in Hong Kong. In addition, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)'s College of Lifelong Learning (CL3) offers a Diploma in Professional Financial Consulting. This new programme can be completed on an intensive, part-time basis over six months. Its integrated approach enables people interested in entering a personal financial consulting and planning career to learn about contemporary finance theories, personal financial planning techniques and investment management. Graduates are also eligible to take the CFC certification examination.

Membership structure

The IFC offers two types of membership: regular and certified. Regular membership (MIFC) is provided for financial planning or consulting practitioners. The minimum entry requirements include a HKCEE certificate, over one year's practical experience in related fields and employment in a responsible financial consulting position. Apart from receiving a regular journal, regular members are entitled to use the designation MIFC.

Certified membership (CFC) is only attained by examination. In order to qualify, candidates must be full HKCEE certificate-holders. They must also possess a minimum of three years' financial consulting experience and hold a responsible position in the financial consulting industry. Finally, they must pass their certification examinations, consisting of two three-hour multiple-choice exams. The first requires the knowledge of financial statements' interpretation and analysis and practical corporate finance, while the second examines the candidate's preparedness in personal financial planning and consulting as well as investment and risk management.

Candidates do not need to pass both modules in one sitting and any pass can be retained as a credit. In addition, professionals with recognised designations are exempt from the first exam (Module 1). These include:

AHKSA/ FHKSA - Member of the Hong Kong Society of Accountants
CGA - Canadian Certified General Accountant
CMA - Certified Management Accountant (US, Canada and Australia)
CFPCM - Certified Financial PlannerCM
FCII - Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute (UK)
ANZIIF - Fellow of the Australian and NZ Institute of Insurance & Finance
FSA - Fellow of the Society of Actuaries
CLU - Chartered Life Underwriter (US)

K S Lau, MSc, MBA, FCCA, FCPA, CFE. An accountant by profession, Mr Lau is specialised in corporate governance and management development. He is also the co-author of Q&A: Financial Planning Exams, a popular course book preparing students for financial planning examinations. For any enquiries regarding the article, you can contact Mr Lau on

Taken from Career Times 03 October 2003
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