Every year professionals in the wealth management industry are encouraged by the challenge and recognition offered by the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards. The event gives contestants a chance to demonstrate their professional skills, and learn from the industry's elites.
This year's competition once again set out to recognise the finest in the financial planning profession. Winning the Grand Award (Group B) this time around, Jason Tong, Citigold relationship manager, Citibank Hong Kong, takes pride in his achievement.
"The award is a recognition of what Citibank and I, as a member of the bank, have achieved, particularly in terms of customer service and our philosophy and approach to wealth management portfolio," comments Mr Tong. "My colleagues are very happy for me. To them, this award also acknowledges the consistency of our service excellence."
The annual competition has confirmed Mr Tong's aspirations and he considers it useful in boosting his career development. "It has helped me review and consolidate my competency as a financial manager. The competition is a platform that allows me to put to good use many of skills and knowledge that I've acquired," he remarks.
"During the competition I had the chance to demonstrate my aptitude and flair for customer service. The judges are all seasoned executives and the presentation session gave me a chance to look at my career from different perspectives," Mr Tong adds. "The experience helped me realise that flexibility and versatility are very important aspects of wealth management."
Simon Chow, deputy country business manager, Citibank Hong Kong, believes good presentation skills and a strong knowledge base are essential qualities to win the competition.
"Financial planners must articulate complex concepts and make it easy for their clients to understand. They must also possess a good level of knowledge to provide comprehensive analysis for customers and come up with well-rounded financial plans," says Mr Chow. "The competition allowed contestants to demonstrate these essential skills."
Both Mr Tong and Mr Chow agree that company support is vital for honing professional skills as well as developing a meaningful career. The availability of a well-developed system and professional team is important for financial planning professionals to do their job effectively and efficiently, notes Mr Chow. "Understanding a company's culture and its training opportunities will help people choose the right platform to develop their career," he stresses.
In preparation for the competition, Mr Tong remained focused on the process, and found that the support from his company and colleagues instrumental. "The bank gave me ample support and training not only for preparing for the competition but also for my job and career. Of equal significance was the moral support from my colleagues," he remarks.
"I gave my best and paid attention to every detail. During one of the most challenging parts, the Q&A session, I had to stay calm and give straight answers, putting my lateral thinking skills to the test," recalls Mr Tong.
Mr Chow sees the competition as a useful benchmark for people in the financial planning industry, as it pushes professionals in the field to brush up on their skills and knowledge, while keeping in pace with their industry peers.
"Financial planners must assess the financial health of their customers and tailor-make investment plans that achieve realistic goals," he emphasises. "I see that all the candidates had the communication skills and knowledge required to serve customers in a professional manner."
He affirms that the annual competition has a positive impact on the industry, giving financial planners a chance to learn from their peers and expand their knowledge.
Aside from facilitating an exchange of ideas, Mr Tong found one of the most valuable elements of the competition to be the networking opportunity. "Making friends with contestants from other banks was one of the most important things. We're all very strong and confident, and we shared the same passion," he remarks.
Mr Tong has found his competition experience highly beneficial and would recommend participation to those willing to grasp the opportunity. "I'll definitely encourage my colleagues to take part in next year's competition. We must seize every opportunity to learn new things and sharpen our skills so that we can become all-round professionals," he concludes.