The annual HKIB Outstanding Financial Planner Awards supports growth in wealth management as it helps practitioners learn relevant skills and gain invaluable experience, while also encouraging the spirit of excellence and high quality across the entire industry. Now in its second year, the event also serves as a successful model to promote development in the industry on the mainland.
Major banking and finance industry players were out in force demonstrating their support for the competition at the 2007 awards seminar held on 13 July 2007.
The attendees listened enthusiastically as organisers explained the rules and judging criteria, and last year's grand award winners Vivian Wong from Standard Chartered Bank and Carmen Mak, a CITICfirst senior relationship manager at CITIC Ka Wah Bank, shared some of their secrets for success.
Organised in conjunction with Career Times, the 2006 awards attracted over 200 financial planners from Hong Kong, with banking institutions, insurance companies and independent financial advisories nominating high-flying employees to enter.
The 2007 competition is following the same three-stage formula that helped last year's competition be a success. In the first round, participants are required to submit a financial planning proposal based on a real case. Short-listed contestants are then invited to interviews with the judging panel for the second round. The selected few are then given a financial planning assignment drawn up by the HKIB to gauge their overall knowledge, skills and experience.
Drawing on her own experience, Ms Wong advised participants to select a case that emotes passion and satisfaction within them, adding that this is not necessarily determined by the size of the business involved.
Meanwhile, Ms Mak believed contestants should focus on their presentation to the judges and said that it is especially challenging giving a presentation in such a limited time. "The first few minutes are crucial to impress the panel and you should try to wrap up in the last minute, even if you do not finish your speech within the given time," she said. "It is also important to address the hidden concerns that come with questions during the Q&A session."
Both winners agreed that, as well as bringing public recognition for effort, the competition enhances wealth management skills. They added that they had been able to bring the standards and practices that the competition espouses in-house and promote them to their team mates.
Carrie Leung, chief executive officer of the HKIB shared these views. "The competition has gained significant recognition across the entire banking and finance industry as well as with the public. The precise assessment requirements have also been accepted as industry standards. The response this year is again positive and we are happy to see an increasing number of applications from insurance companies and IFAs," Ms Leung said.
Contestants are judged on their abilities to demonstrate five key competencies: trusting relationship; recognise financial goals; understand financial status; structure financial plan that meets goals and status; and, timely management of agreed financial plan (TRUST).
As the mainland economy booms, the requirement for wealth management there is growing and demand for qualified financial planners around the region is increasing. The HKIB believes it is important to work together with organisations and people across the border to strengthen the overall quality and stability of the industry.
Modelled after the HKIB Outstanding Financial Planner Awards in Hong Kong, the China Outstanding Financial Planning Proposal Award is being introduced this year by the HKIB and the China Banking Association, with similar objectives of increasing awareness of the importance of financial planning and promoting financial planning excellence on the mainland. It will be smaller in size but will use the same TRUST model to assess entries. The judging panel will comprise industry experts, academic representatives and monitoring authorities from both Hong Kong and the mainland. "Not only do we aim at improving the quality of professionals on the mainland, the competition provides a good platform to exchange best practices and standards across the two regions," Ms Leung said. "The proposal award serves as the first phase and we hope to roll out the full awards on the mainland next year."
The competition targets people with either certified financial management planner (CFMP) or certification of China banking professional (CCBP) qualifications. Again following a multistage format, contestants submit a written plan based on a genuine case and then short-listed finalists have a phone interview. To enter the competition, endorsement from a relevant organisation is required.
"With increased complexity of investment options and an ever-changing investment environment, all practitioners need to keep abreast of the latest trends and the availability of new products," Ms Leung said. "In both Hong Kong and on the mainland, we are committed to continuously developing and strengthening our education options, bringing the best training programmes to help individuals excel in their profession, and to fuelling the development of the banking and finance sector by rewarding the most qualified talents."