The turmoil in financial markets over the past year has provided most wealth management practitioners a chance to focus on upholding and improving professional industry standards.
The annual Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards is a clear example of a broad endeavour to help set service excellence benchmarks for the industry.
Final-round presentations for the awards were completed last week and the names of the two grand award winners will be announced at the presentation ceremony on
In its fourth year running, the competition this year focused on promoting ethics, professionalism and integrity. Finalists were required to deliver written and oral presentations based on a hypothetical case that reflected the recent volatile investment scenario.
"The current issue is rebuilding confidence, for both the industry and consumers," says Carrie Leung, chief executive officer, the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers.
"With many customers remaining cautious about making investment choices, it is wealth management planners' job to ensure that they understand the options and risks involved. We were pleased to find that all our finalists were able to demonstrate a high level of sensitivity in addressing this," Ms Leung notes.
This year's finalists also demonstrated superior presentation skills. For instance, instead of lengthy written descriptions, they made good use of visual aids to facilitate the hypothetical customer's understanding of his various choices. This effectively reinforced the information they had already provided verbally.
Wealth managers need to listen attentively to their customers and show their genuine concern about them. "In the hypothetical case, one of the client's family members had just passed away. Our finalists were aware of this detail and treated the matter with appropriate consideration, also taking it into account in their financial plans," Ms Leung recalls.
The HKIB awards are often referred to as the industry's "Oscars" for recognising wealth managers' efforts, and the presentation ceremony will be attended by senior banking executives, government delegates, academics as well as Chen Yuan-nian, secretary general of the China Banking Association.
In spite of recent events in the financial markets, Ms Leung believes tightened compliance regulations, closer internal monitoring and higher professional standards will lead to new opportunities for wealth management planners.
"Many industry players have been expanding their wealth management teams in order to take advantage of the next market growth period," she says, adding that financial planners are keen to rebuild their confidence in the industry and to enhance their professionalism through continuous learning.
There is a growing need for qualifications such as the Certified Financial Management PlannerTM (CFMPTM) designation conferred by the HKIB, Ms Leung points out. The accreditation is also the first and only in Hong Kong to be subject to a mutual recognition agreement with the Certification of China Banking Professional (CCBP) accreditation.
The HKIB plans to incorporate elements of the generic good practice that characterised the HKIB Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards into the CFMPTM syllabus, with the aim to raise the bar for the industry.
"A total of 170 Hong Kong practitioners have already gained the CCBP accreditation," Ms Leung says. "With increasing demand for cross-border wealth management services, this qualification is invaluable. It helps to familiarise practitioners with regulations and financial products across the border."
A number of HKIB members holding the CFMPTM stage-one diploma recently sat the CCBP examinations. "Wealth managers wanting to go the extra mile should also improve their Mandarin skills," says Ms Leung. She adds that the HKIB aims to launch a new training programme on professional ethics for the banking industry next year.
The HKIB Annual Hong Kong Banking Conference scheduled for December 26, with the theme "Ride on the global recovery — the strategies for 2010", is another major pending event on the banking calendar. Although there are already a number of banking and finance forums held in Hong Kong, the HKIB is looking to build a platform for industry practitioners to exchange ideas on local issues.
The conference will be addressed by representatives from a number of major banks, as well as by Chan Ka-keung, secretary for financial services and the treasury; and Zhang Yan-sheng, director of the National Development & Reform Commission's Institute for International Economic Research.
Advancing the industry
- Keen focus on ethics
- Building trusting client relations based on good communication
- Continuous learning helps to raise the bar
- New banking conference to facilitate idea exchange