If Hong Kong is to maintain its status as a key centre for the banking and finance sectors, it must continue to provide a high level of professional education which ties in to opportunities for career development. The Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) has long recognised this and has made a point of supporting the specific training needs of the local banking industry.
"The economy is growing, so customers have changing expectations and want more sophisticated banking services," says Carrie Leung, the HKIB's chief executive officer. She adds that Hong Kong's role as an international financial hub means that institutions and their employees must have the expertise to offer the full range of products and services.
Recently, the HKIB re-launched the certified personal financial planner(CPFP) training programme. "We revamped it to take account of ever-changing market needs," Ms Leung says. This included adding more in-depth information about different banking practices and introducing extra elements with a China flavour. Since an increasing number of Hong Kong-based professionals are either relocating to the mainland or doing more business there, China knowledge is becoming especially useful.
We believe continuing education is very important and that qualifications help career advancement
The CPFP qualification was originally developed by the HKIB to improve understanding of issues relating to financial planning and how to serve clients. The course covers the regulatory framework, investments, insurance and tax, fund and asset management, and financial planning.
According to Ms Leung, the HKIB's aim in all their professional training is to foster best practices and equip people with the knowledge to cope with industry changes and the challenges ahead. In doing this, they also offer courses in exam preparation for frontline staff who are getting ready to take their banking qualifications.
"We believe continuing education is very important and that qualifications help career advancement," Ms Leung says. "We always keep in mind the 3Rs - recruitment, recognition and reimbursement." She explains that having the right qualifications increases recruitment opportunities, that the courses need to be recognised by the major banks, and that some employers in Hong Kong support staff with reimbursement programmes to pay for tuition fees.
"I believe this is a good thing and encourages staff to continue to upgrade their knowledge of banking," she says. She notes that the general trend locally is for banks to offer more one-stop services, requiring staff to master a wider variety of products and details. "The banking sector is customer-driven and the key is to understand client needs and respond to them," Ms Leung says. "Customers often simply don't have the time to manage their wealth, which is why there is a growing need for high-quality consultation services."
She adds that candidates should be well prepared when they consider joining the industry and must expect to keep studying throughout their careers. "Our training programmes also focus on teaching bank staff about service execution," Ms Leung notes. "Every customer is unique and their requirements should therefore receive personalised attention."
The HKIB also organises free seminars for members to enhance their financial knowledge and, as an independent body, is able to provide an excellent overview of the industry.
- Revamped certified personal financial planner (CPFP) programme includes more in-depth information
- Important for banking professionals to develop China knowledge
- Staff must be trained to offer one-stop services for clients
- Those in the banking sector must expect to study throughout their careers