Financial Planning / Wealth Management

Setting the standards

by Grace Chan

Carrie Leung
chief executive officer
the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers
Photo: Edde Ngan

Annual awards bolster banking body's mission to boost professional development

With growing ranks of affluent mainland individuals looking to diversify their investments outside their country's borders, there are plenty of opportunities for well-versed Hong Kong wealth management practitioners with a willingness to enhance their professional qualifications to tap into this market.

"High net worth individuals from mainland China have become increasingly sophisticated in terms of their financial aspirations. They're looking for ways to preserve their wealth or to pass on their legacy to their children." says Carrie Leung, chief executive officer, the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB). "As a result of this, there's an escalating need for cross-border investment and taxation solutions."

Reflecting the changing face of the Hong Kong wealth management sector, a new entry category has this year been introduced to the annual HKIB Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards. This group C category focuses specifically on clients with "investable" assets of more than US$1 million (excluding their primary residence).

"We've seen a rise in the number of banks and financial institutions choosing their best-performing wealth managers to represent them in the competition this year and we believe this is largely a result of the launch of the additional category," Ms Leung notes, adding that the high-profile awards, now in its fifth year, continues to promote industry best practice and to recognise top achievers.

As expected, finalists in group A (with less than three years' experience) and group B (with more than three years' experience), focusing on general wealth management, have displayed a high level of professionalism and superlative presentation skills.

Ms Leung remarks, "Group C finalists have also demonstrated a thorough understanding of their high net worth clients' complex financial needs."

Trained and qualified

The culmination of three rigorous selection rounds, the awards presentation ceremony will be hosted on 29 October. The names of the grand award winners will be announced at this event.

Regarded as the industry's Oscars, the ceremony will feature Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Chan Ka-keung as guest of honour. Mr Chan will share his views on recent developments in the Hong Kong wealth management sector.

Another special highlight will be a snapshot review of the previous four presentation ceremonies, along with a music performance. "With some banks and financial organisations now including participation in the awards as part of their internal training, the competition has shown us that industry standards are constantly improving," Ms Leung notes. However, continuous learning remains key for any financial planner aiming to excel.

Hong Kong-based practitioners wanting to take advantage of the growing demand for services from wealthy mainland investors should equip themselves with in-depth knowledge of the banking regulations and financial products across the border, she stresses, recommending the Certification of China Banking Professional (CCBP) designation conferred by the China Banking Association (CBA) as one of the best options.

The CCBP certification is industry-recognised in mainland China and encompasses fundamental knowledge of the country's banking regulations, as well as risk and wealth management issues. "More than 100 banking practitioners in Hong Kong have already obtained the accreditation," Ms Leung reveals.

A mutual recognition arrangement between the HKIB and CBA ensures a fast track towards obtaining cross-border professional qualifications. Banking practitioners that have completed the first stage of the HKIB Certified Financial Management PlannerTM (CFMPTM) certification only need to pass the examination on the subject "Banking Fundamental" by CCBP to be awarded the CBA's Banking Fundamental Certificate and Personal Wealth Management Certificate.

Gaining an edge

In an effort to offer better alignment with the government's cross-sector Qualifications Framework (QF) covering qualifications of academic, vocational and continuing education, the HKIB has structured its professional training programmes to cater to the development needs of banking practitioners at different stages in their career. These qualifications cover new entrants to the banking industry, experienced banking practitioners and banking professionals who have management responsibility.

"Practitioners may choose the self-study mode or sign up for our training programmes to work towards certification," Ms Leung explains, adding that the institute will be launching additional training initiatives next year to assist banking employees in obtaining their qualifications.

In addition to launching new development programmes in the first half of 2011, the HKIB is also planning a series of free seminars and luncheon talks on the latest industry topics, such as the business potential of off-shore renminbi services.

Three new educational titles published by the HKIB, Professional Ethics and Banking Services, Financial Systems and Risk Management and Fundamentals of Accounting and Law in Banking will be also available by the end of this year.

"Two years after the financial crisis hit, banks have revised their selling procedures and branches have designated sales areas. With an eye on growing business prospects, most institutions have in recent months stepped up recruitment and taken on new graduates," says Ms Leung. "This is a good time to enter the field, and professional qualifications provide concrete proof of a banker's competitiveness."

Moving forward

  • Emerging affluent mainland sector changes the face of Hong Kong's wealth management industry
  • New awards category to enhance best practice and standards in private banking
  • Training programmes restructured to align with the government's Qualifications Framework

Taken from Career Times 22 October 2010, A2

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