After three rigorous selection rounds, the judging panel of the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards 2008 has shortlisted six finalists. The winners will be announced at the awards presentation ceremony on November 25.
The Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) and Career Times joined hands for the third time to organise the competition, which aims to promote ethical selling and enhance the competitive edge of banking and financial practitioners in Hong Kong and Macau. This year, the benchmark competition attracted more than 200 candidates representing banks, insurance companies and independent financial advisers, earning wide industry support.
The competition guidelines were announced in July, when candidates started preparing their written plans and oral presentations.
"This year's contestants performed extremely well, both in their presentations and written proposals," says Carrie Leung, chief executive officer, the HKIB. "We were pleased to find that contestants were capable of reflecting recent financial market situations in their submitted plans. Such sensitivity is crucial for successful wealth management professionals."
"Understanding customers' needs has become a basic requirement for practitioners," Ms Leung notes. "It is encouraging to see that practitioners in the field go the extra mile in their efforts to ensure that customers fully understand their options and proposed wealth management plans."
The finalists of the competition have proven that they understand the importance of wealth management. They have followed through on this principle by checking customer's understanding and encouraging customers to be involved in the financial decisions which will have an impact on their lives. "Effective two-way communication is indispensable to providing a professional wealth management service which is very much the foundation of a trusting relationship and ethical practice," Ms Leung says.
"Wealth management professionals are more than dispensers of market updates," Ms Leung stresses. "By providing a thorough analysis and explanation of the various financial options on offer, successful practitioners make their customers aware of their choices, based on their individual situations such as life stages, lifestyle preferences, financial needs and risk tolerance."
The contestants of this year's competition generally showed a high level of professionalism, but the judges noted that group B contestants, with more than three years of industry experience, outperformed group A candidates who have three years' experience or less, in terms of technical skills and data support.
Ms Leung explains that contestants in the more experienced group excelled particularly in financial gap analysis, an important tool to determine necessary amendments to financial plans when comparing customers' current situations and future financial goals.
In the final round of the competition, short listed candidates submitted a written financial plan and delivered an oral presentation based on a hypothetical case study. On the whole, they demonstrated strong financial knowledge, regulatory compliance and presentation skills. "Our assessment criteria also stress conceptual understanding, ethics and the ability to apply theory into practice," Ms Leung notes.
Participants of the competition were assessed using a TRUST model, which includes five key elements in financial planning services: "trusting relationship", "recognising financial goals", "understanding financial status", "structuring financial plan that meets the goals" and "timely management of agreed financial plan". There was also a heavy emphasis on practical application of financial knowledge and relationship building with customers.
The TRUST model is a financial planning process introduced in the HKIB Certified Financial Management PlannerTM (CFMPTM) qualification training programme. The CFMPTM qualification is widely recognised in the banking and finance industry, with companies often supporting the banking practitioners to embark on the programme. Submitted financial plans for the competition will be selected and shared with candidates of the CFMPTM examination training programme later.
Several senior banking executives, government representatives and academics will attend the presentation ceremony to recognise the winners' efforts and the competition's role in raising industry standards.
Guests will include Peter Wong, president of the HKIB and executive director of HSBC Hong Kong. Guests of honour Joseph Yam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, and Anselmo Teng, chairman of Monetary Authority of Macao will present the awards.