The first Outstanding Financial Planner Awards, jointly organised by the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) and Career Times, has received enthusiastic industry support from leading banks and major financial institutions.
To date, almost 200 entries have been received from financial planners working for banks, insurance companies or independent financial advisories, and this number has already exceeded the original target set by the HKIB.
According to Carrie Leung, the HKIB's chief executive officer, industry practitioners realise it will not be easy to win the award but are eager to accept the challenge. "Our goal is to set the standards for best practice for financial planners, so we won't compromise on the assessment criteria," she says.
Ms Leung is delighted that so many leading companies have encouraged their staff to take part in the competition and have put forward nominations. "I am sure they realise that, just by participating, financial planning professionals can enhance their skills and see which aspects they may need to improve further," she says.
Having quickly scanned the entries, Ms Leung notes that the quality varies, but there are some which are outstanding. These tend to be less product-orientated, with special attention on the presentation of information. They also focus on the financial needs of customers, which is the basis for maintaining a good long-term relationship.
Once all the written financial plans have been fully assessed, selected candidates will be invited for the second round of the competition. There, they will be required to give an oral presentation about their proposals in front of a panel of three or four judges. Ms Leung expects the judges will be looking for an ethical approach to dealing with customers, as well as the ability to come up with a good financial plan to meet individual investment goals.
Six candidates in total will progress to the final round ¡X three of them from the group of financial planners with less than three years' professional experience and the remaining three from the more experienced group. Each will be given a case to study and asked to work out the best possible financial plan.
Final winners of each group will receive the Outstanding Financial Planner Grand Awards at the presentation ceremony on October 31 officiated by Joseph Yam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.
Ms Leung is sure the Awards will be an effective way for the industry to recognise its top practitioners and will give the winners a significant career boost.
Increased demand for quality banking professionals
The HKIB's mission is to foster development of the banking and finance industry in Hong Kong by providing relevant training and accreditation for its members. To ensure a supply of qualified professionals, two specialist programmes are made available.
The three-module Certificate Programme for Banking and Financial Services is designed for trainee tellers or operations support staff. It offers an overview of banking and investment, as well as covering the essentials of sales and servicing.
In addition, the HKIB has recently launched the Certified Financial Management Planner (CFMP™) programme. This is tailored for those who are aspired to become professional financial planners. The programme is the first in Hong Kong to include details of banking law and services. It also explains products, commercial banking practices, treasury and risk management.
The CFMP™ programme combines an international framework with key elements important for the local market. Students can choose either a Hong Kong or a mainland China module and, thereby, focus on the regulations and topics relevant to the respective areas.
Ms Leung says the CFMP™ programme is widely supported and recognised within the industry because it was developed in response to the specific requirements of professional financial planners. "Banks would prefer candidates with this professional qualification when they recruit new financial services staff," she concludes.