The Outstanding Financial Planner Awards organised by the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) has gained recognition among industry players and the public. This year more than 200 financial planners working in banks, insurance companies and independent financial advisories across the territory entered and now only six finalists remain as the contest moves into the third and final round.
The competition is open to all financial planning practitioners in the Hong Kong and Macau banking and financial sectors. In the first round participants submit a financial planning proposal based on a real case. If selected to go into the second round they deliver an oral presentation and are interviewed by a judging panel. Those who make it to the final round are given a hypothetical case study for which they have to provide a written financial plan and give an oral presentation.
Participants' financial planning experience is taken into account as the competition has two groups: one for practitioners with less than three years' experience and the other for those who have been in the profession for longer. The oral presentation section is evaluated based on participants' knowledge, attitude and skills. The assessment criteria for the written component incorporate five elements, represented by the acronym "TRUST". They are "trusting relationship", "recognise financial goals", "understand financial status", "structure financial plan" and "timely management". Carrie Leung, CEO of the HKIB says, "The participants should pay careful attention to these as they are the essential attributes of a financial planner."
The awards are highly supported by the banking and finance industry and the judging panel is made up of notable personalities from academia, regulators and the banking and finance industry. "The judging process is intensive and judges select the best of the best. This is why the awards are highly praised by industry players," Ms Leung says.
The competition encourages professionalism and development within the industry and recognises outstanding individual performances. "The strengths of the awards are many," Ms Leung says. "For instance, they can be a self-audit exercise for participants to identify their own strengths and weaknesses, therefore helping them know where they stand in the profession. They are also a good opportunity for learning and networking. As well, they contribute to industry best practices and stimulate new ideas for future HKIB training events."
The HKIB hopes to achieve several objectives through the awards. Primarily, it is hoped that the public will become more aware of the importance of financial planning. "The earlier you start planning, the better," Ms Leung says. "Financial planning is a process involving gathering relevant financial information, setting life goals, examining your current financial status and coming up with a strategy to meet your expectations based on present and projected situations. It is scientific and rational and we hope the Hong Kong public gets a better idea of this because financial planning can help you adapt more easily to changes in life and feel more secure."
The awards also aim to enhance the competitive edge of practitioners, to promote ethical standards in the industry and to recognise high achievers.
The need for wealth management services is growing as the Hong Kong and, especially, the mainland economies thrive. With more practitioners required, Ms Leung says the HKIB is helping to ensure their professionalism by providing relevant training and qualifications.
With this year's awards all but over, Ms Leung offers some final words of advice to the remaining few: "Make sure you are well prepared for the oral presentation and the question and answer session that follows. However, you shouldn't be overly rehearsed because that will make you sound unnatural. Stay calm, be yourself, and you can make a name for yourself," she advises.