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Money Moves

Competition puts students at cutting edge

by Amy Lam

Jacky Chan, chief executive officer
AIA Hong Kong and Macau
Photos: Courtesy of AIA
Life insurance giant grooms future leaders via diverse channels

The exciting field of financial management continues to lure local university graduates who look only for the best career launch pads in town. Chances are the vast majority of these budding professionals will eventually sign on with big names in the business.

In a bid to deepen these students' understanding of the profession, one of the leading life insurance organisations, American International Assurance Company (Bermuda) Limited (AIA Hong Kong) is, for the fourth year running, providing them with a competitive learning experience¡XThe AIA Outstanding Financial Planning Awards for Hong Kong Undergraduates.

Supported by academic and professional institutions, the competition aims at broadening aspiring financial planners' insights into the field and helping them to learn to apply theoretical knowledge in practice.

"Young people these days are aware of the importance of future planning from an early age, and the competition serves to increase their interest in the field," says Jacky Chan, chief executive officer, AIA Hong Kong and Macau. "The annual event exposes participants to various aspects of financial planning and encourages them to consider their own career aspirations."

This year's competition attracted 251 students from diverse educational disciplines, competing in 129 teams. Participating teams were asked to draw up financial plans and incorporate insurance, retirement, investment and education planning advice for the semi-final round of the competition. The panel of judges assessed the students' ability to apply financial concepts and examined their analytical skills, understanding of clients' financial goals and the feasibility and structure of the financial plans.

Eight finalist teams were invited to conduct a presentation on the following statement: "Retirement planning is one of the key components of personal financial planning. What role does the MPF play in an individual's retirement plan to ensure that he will enjoy financially secure retirement years, particularly in the face of the introduction of the Member's Choice scheme in 2011."

Bright talent

The judging panel included economists attached to a number of universities, as well as representatives from professional organisations in the financial industry.

Tang Ka-ki and Tung Yiu-hing (middle), Champion Award recipients from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, with: Carrie Leung (far left), chief executive officer, The Hong Kong Institute of Bankers Manda Chan (second from left), deputy chief agency officer, American International Assurance Company (Bermuda) Limited
Calvin Leung (far right), councillor, Society of Registered Financial Planners
Keith Lam (second from right), vice president, The Institute of Financial Planners of Hong Kong
"Over the past few years, participants delivered outstanding reports that focused on practical ideas and displayed an excellent sense of financial planning. We were impressed by their comprehensiveness and organisation," says Mr Chan, noting that, in previous years, the students also gave their presentations with eye-catching visual aids.

He adds, "We were thrilled by their level of enthusiasm and the fact that they often used interesting case studies to demonstrate their understanding of pension planning."

As demand grows for retirement planning professionals, AIA Hong Kong actively recruits and trains candidates to step into this role, "Not only do we provide opportunities for fresh graduates, but we also look for mid-career people who want a change of pace, or those looking to switch careers to financial planning," points out Mr Chan.

One key aspect of retirement planning is managing clients' investment portfolios. "Since workers in Hong Kong will soon be allowed to choose their own MPF service provider, we see this as a good time to build an even stronger financial management team," he says.

Growth opportunities

In view of the fierce competition for talent in the marketplace, AIA Hong Kong launched two specialised programmes¡XInternship@AIA and Apprenticeship@AIA. The former, which combines classroom training and practical experience, particularly targets university students scheduled to graduate in 2011, introducing them to the core aspects of financial planning, as well as to hone their soft skills such as presentation techniques.

The apprenticeship programme, in turn, is a two-month training scheme aimed at students graduating this year. The goal is to provide them with solid knowledge and practical business skills. Candidates who complete all the training requirements will earn a monthly allowance during the apprenticeship, while outstanding trainees stand a good chance to enter permanent employment with AIA Hong Kong.

"We're looking for people who are eager to learn and keen to meet new people. They must be communicative, proactive, considerate and good-natured. Ideally, they should also be entrepreneurs that are service oriented. Most importantly, recruits should have a genuine interest in financial products and our industry," Mr Chan stresses.

AIA Hong Kong continues to invest resources and time into nurturing future finance professionals for the recovering Hong Kong economy. "Ultimately, this will ensure financial security and service excellence for our clients," Mr Chan concludes.

Taken from Career Times 11 June 2010, A4

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