In a bid to bolster the professional standing of Hong Kong's wealth management sector and foster growth for the fast-paced industry, the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) and Career Times combined forces in the HKIB Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards 2008.
Now into its third year, the event's successful summation signifies not only triumphs for the winners but also the professionalism of contestants.
"As the banks and financial institutions assessed their own employees before enrolling them in the competition, all the entrants were practically the best in class," says Carrie Leung, CEO of the HKIB. "Therefore, we saw outstanding performances across participating organisations and the contest among individuals was neck and neck."
Ms Leung also witnessed competitors exercising exceptional presentation skills during the final stages where they were challenged with hypothetical cases designed to test the comprehensiveness of the financial plans tendered. In 20 minutes, the finalists were able to highlight their proposals tactfully.
"We were delighted to find that many contestants know their positions as wealth management professionals. To handle tax planning and inheritance arrangements, for example, they appreciated the need to identify supplementary professional support in order to best service their clients. This is one of the objectives the HKIB means to promote," Ms Leung comments.
The quality of the professionals presented in the competition can be attributed to preparation efforts participants paid in the course of self-reflection, self-audit and self-learning. Banks and financial institutions also provided plenty of assistance to their representatives.
Although only a handful of contestants won trophies and awards, every one of them had the chance to develop through the competition procedures and view the careers from a new perspective.
"Good practice identified in the event will be compiled in the module seven of our CFMPTM programme so that industry players not involved in the awards will also benefit. The search for excellence — the enduring goal for professionals — is instilled in the competitions, professional courses and other activities of the HKIB, as we believe this is where we can build confidence," Ms Leung says.
"The HKIB Financial Management Planner Awards is a signature event with the power to boost standards in the banking and finance industry," says Stanley Suen, general manager, Career Times Online Limited.
|Stanley Suen, general manager, Career Times Online Limited
"The competition is not simply a showcase for a few outstanding performers. Rather, it gives all participants the opportunity to share industry best practices and gain experience," Mr Suen explains. "Most importantly, it encourages employers to promote good knowledge management."
As the most important pillar of Hong Kong's economy, the city's financial services industry should strive to uphold high professional ethics and further enhance service quality.
During the current economic uncertainties, there is even greater need for companies to tighten their governance and for employees to become more resourceful and knowledgeable.
On a positive note, Mr Suen believes the current credit crunch and market sentiments are consequences of the overheated economy caused by several good years marked by financial engineering and high-speed service expansion in the banking and finance sector.
"Historically, the economy goes through cyclical ups and downs. The current crisis provides people with the opportunity to consider how to improve the existing systems. It also offers a chance for innovation and new disciplines," he says. "As a result, the banking and finance industry will become stronger in time."
To achieve this, he notes, all industry players should work on enhancing their credibility in order to restore their customers' confidence in the sector.
As a key media player, Career Times plays its part in this process through its involvement in the HKIB Financial Management Planner Awards, which not only increases public awareness of the importance of wealth management, but also enhances the industry's competitive edge.
"Considering its benefits to the community at large, we will continue to support this meaningful endeavour and the far-reaching effect on the development of wealth management in Hong Kong," Mr Suen concludes.