Increased public awareness of wealth management and the implementation of the Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor (QDII) policy have given the financial planning industry a strong boost. At the same time, the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) continues to develop talent within the industry through training programmes and other endeavours.
For the past three years, the HKIB has organised the annual HKIB Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards to recognise top professionals in the field.
"We are proud to say that we have had a 20 per cent increase on the number of applications last year," says Carrie Leung, chief executive officer, the HKIB.
One reason for the competition's enormous popularity may be the strong incentives that it offers financial planners. Award winners are instantly regarded as role models in their places of employment, while the competition is also a valuable platform for them to share industry knowledge and experience while moving up the career ladder.
"Quality wealth management depends greatly on the range of products and services that companies offer," Ms Leung remarks. Candidates who take part in the competition will therefore represent the full scope of financial services offered by these companies.
Since the competition's inception in 2006, industry partners' support has been key in driving its success, and banks choose their best-performing financial planners to represent them, says Ms Leung, pointing out that the competition has been quick to become a signature event.
The competition was also introduced to the mainland last year, with universities, banking institutions and media partners across the border joining hands to make it happen.
The assessment criteria for last year's competition were encompassed in the acronym TRUST, standing for "trusting relationship", "recognising financial goals", "understanding financial status", "structuring financial plan that meets the goals" and "timely management of agreed financial plan".
The TRUST model has been so effective in evaluating financial planners' performance that it has been adopted by a number of banks and it will therefore again be the criteria for this year's competition.
Awards for "best presentation" and "best financial planning proposal" are new components of this year's competition, Ms Leung notes, explaining that the former aims to recognise impressive soft skills on stage while the latter will award an excellent written proposal, which places high demands on organisational and analytic skills.
The HKIB Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards is regarded as a good springboard for financial planners to take their careers to the next level.
A banking background is seen as providing a competitive edge. "The main goal of financial planning is to help clients manage their wealth through the different stages of their lives," Ms Leung points out. It is therefore essential for a successful financial management consultancy to understand what is required.
Financial planners with a wealth of banking knowledge tend to do better when it comes to product recommendation while their frontline experience in dealing with various parties equips them with the necessary skills to approach clients, understand their needs and gain their trust.
As the financial planning industry continues to blossom, it is expected that demand for talent in the field will continue to soar, Ms Leung predicts. While there is still some uncertainty as to the economic outlook for next year, the burgeoning mainland China market and Hong Kong's ties to the development of this market mean that there are abundant opportunities in the industry.
With a high turnover rate, it is still a challenge for companies' human resources departments to find top financial planners. To help tackle this problem and inject new energy into the industry, the HKIB provides a wide spectrum of training programmes to help graduates prepare for entering the field and obtain professional qualifications. One popular choice is the HKIB's Certified Financial Management PlannerTM (CFMPTM) programme.
Gaining the CFMPTM professional qualification does not only equip candidates with a basic knowledge of the industry, it also provides them with an academic edge in the eyes of employers. "A combination of knowledge and practical experience is essential for financial planners to excel in this intensely competitive field," Ms Leung concludes.
Best of the best
- Competition rewards top financial planning professionals
- Signature event supported by institutions and industry partners
- New components provide contest with greater edge
- Demand for talent continues to soar