Commitment to talent developmentby Adam Davis
It is widely believed that last year's financial tsunami has led to a new world order and that the general public is now more aware of the significance of financial planning.
"Recent financial woes have had a monumental impact on the world market. Instead of relying solely on investment to boost wealth, people have now learnt to put things in perspective and are looking to plan more carefully in anticipation of their needs in different life stages," confirms Jacky Chan, chief executive officer, Hong Kong and Macau, American International Assurance Company (Bermuda) Limited (AIA).
Market volatility coupled with the complexity of the financial planning process may cause some people to experience a certain level of anxiety. In fact, formulating a sound financial plan requires time as well as a wealth of know-how in both professional and technical senses. Mr Chan believes that this will continue to drive demand for professional financial consultancy services.
Deeply rooted in the Asia Pacific region more than 90 years ago, AIA is now home for a consultancy force in excess of 8,000 highly qualified professionals in Hong Kong and Macau. "More than 2,200 AIA representatives and financial planners have been working here for more than a decade," says Mr Chan. "We are capable of grooming our own people from different academic and business backgrounds into well-respected professionals."
A forward-looking corporation, AIA sees great prospects ahead and is therefore keen to improve its strong suit. Early this year, AIA launched an FP (financial planner) and an AFP (associate financial planner) programmes, offering young people who are determined to break into the challenging industry an ideal entry point. "We expect our FPs and AFPs to develop into all-round financial planning professionals in approximately three years through a comprehensive training schedule," Mr Chan says.
Other than an attractive commission, high performing financial planners are rewarded with incentive trips and participation in overseas conventions, alongside fast promotion to management capacity.
"Competent FPs can expect a fast track and diverse career, rising through the ranks by assuming increased responsibilities from mentoring and training, to recruitment and business development. Their future is in their own hands," emphasises Mr Chan.
AIA pays premium in grooming its future leaders, furnishing every individual member of staff with the right training at the opportune time and stage of their careers. For instance, accomplished professionals that have accumulated sufficient experience may choose to focus their sights on the business side. Mr Chan notes, "There is no ceiling to their earning potential."
Alternatively, they may opt for advancement into management capacity, depending on their aspirations. "Our training system will help them cultivate the business acumen necessary for future success," he remarks.
Sponsorship for the CFP Certification
The fast-paced financial planning industry offers ample scope for both professional and personal growth but its service-oriented nature calls for exemplary interpersonal skills, a knack for dealing with people, a keen interest in continuous learning and an entrepreneurial spirit.
While established professionals look to their laurels, new joiners need to pave their development path with utmost care and caution.
"The right qualifications give young professionals a head start but exceptional soft skills are equally necessary for going the extra mile both in customer service and in their pursuit of a truly worthwhile and fruitful career," Mr Chan advises.
People looking to becoming FPs are required to possess a university education, plus some work experience and knowledge in insurance and financial products. As for those without a university degree but who have been in the field for two to three years, they may join AIA as associate financial planners and learn the ropes via the three-year training.
New joiners are encouraged to take advantage of sponsorships towards professional qualifications such as the Insurance Intermediaries Qualifying Examinations (IIQE), Financial Advisers' International Qualification (FAIQ), a professional diploma in wealth management, as well as the widely recognise CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERCM Certification (CFPCM).
"The CFP Certification is trusted and well respected around the world. With a view to building up our own talent and boost their confidence and acumen, we are only too happy to make such an investment," says Mr Chan. "With this development structure in place, we are confident that our financial planner and associate financial planner programmes will gain popularity among young people who aspire to make financial planning their choice of career."
Taken from Career Times 18 December 2009, p. A5