As part of its mission of maintaining Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre and fostering the further development of China's banking and finance industry, the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) has made a commitment to offering high-quality training and accreditation for its members.
In view of the rapid expansion of financial planning, the institute has also jointly organised the first Outstanding Financial Planner Awards with Career Times to promote professional standards and highlight best practices for this fast-growing sector.
According to Carrie Leung, the HKIB's chief executive officer, many banks and other financial institutions have made significant efforts to prepare for the competition. In doing so, they have also been able to share with each other insights and ideas in providing financial services.
She adds that there have also been clear benefits for the HKIB. "We have been collecting comments from the judges and will include their opinions and some practical case studies in our training programmes," she explains.
University professors will assess the candidates' theoretical knowledge, the banking heavyweights will test their practical abilities
In her opinion, another of the objectives in establishing the awards — to promote financial planning and raise public awareness of the industry — has already been achieved.
The second round of the competition will be completed by the end of September, and the top six performers will then move on to the final round to be held in October. Three of them will be from the group of financial planners with less than three years' in the profession and three from the group of those with more experience. They will be required to give a presentation based on a hypothetical case study which they receive two weeks prior to the final round.
Ms Leung stresses that this will be a test of all-round skills, since the panel of judges will include representatives from banks, universities and regulatory bodies. "University professors will assess the candidates' theoretical knowledge, the banking heavyweights will test their practical abilities, while K C Kwok, the government economist, and Arthur Yuen from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) will definitely focus on their ethical and professional standard," she says.
Winners of the two categories will be presented with the Outstanding Financial Planner Grand Award by HKMA chief executive Joseph Yam, who will be the guest of honour at the awards presentation dinner on October 31. Another special guest, Liu Zhangjun, who is executive vice president of the China Banking Association, will deliver a speech on the regulatory mechanism for personal financial planning on the mainland.
Optimistic about the outlook for the banking and financial planning sectors, Ms Leung nevertheless emphasises that people in the industry must focus on professional development to keep up with the developments in a fast-changing market.
Currently the HKIB offers two major training programmes which lead to accreditation as an Associate of the HKIB (AHKIB) or as a Certified Financial Management Planner (CFMP™).
The AHKIB designation is awarded to members who have completed the relevant courses, passed the examination, and met the requirement of having three years' work experience in banking and finance.
The CFMP™ programme for financial planners was launched this year and is the first of its kind in Hong Kong to incorporate courses on banking law and services, as well as commercial banking services and treasury products. Ms Leung says it provides a structured and comprehensive coverage of financial planning practices in a banking and finance environment.
The programme was developed to meet the specific needs of financial planners in terms of technical knowledge, skills and attitude, and is widely supported and recognised within the industry. An examination paper focusing on China issues such as mainland's taxation and regulations is currently being developed. Hong Kong CFMP™ certificants will then attain an additional professional diploma in financial planning and management in China providing they successfully pass the exam.
"Already, staff working for Hang Seng Bank, the Bank of China, Wing Lung Bank and the Bank of East Asia have joined this programme, and AIA is the first insurance company to take part," says Ms Leung. Outside Hong Kong, the Bank of China in Macau and ABN AMRO Bank in Shanghai are among the first to sign on.