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Financial Planning / Wealth Management

Wealth managers demonstrate flair and zest


Kalok Chan
head, department of finance
school of business and management
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Photo: Wallace Chan

For the third year running, the HKIB Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards acknowledged and celebrated professionalism of Hong Kong's wealth management practitioners. The panel of judges for this year's competition shares with Isabella Lee their opinions on the signature event and reveals what the future holds for the bourgeoning industry.

Ongoing improvement

The exceptional quality of the finalists in the HKIB Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards 2008 clearly earmarks them as "cream of the crop", says Kalok Chan, head, department of finance, school of business and management, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

"In the final round, we assessed the content of the participants' financial proposals and the way they interpreted market trends and data. It was a delight to see that they were able to draw up comprehensive plans and elucidate the details clearly," remarks Professor Chan, chairman of the competition's organising committee and panel judge.

Professor Chan hopes the excellence displayed will extend to the entire sector, which will benefit from a focus on professional qualification and training.

Wealth management is not a quick fix and financial planners should make comprehensive, long-term arrangements for their clients. "Combined with expert service provided by industry practitioners, the competition will help to enhance public awareness of the importance of financial planning," affirms Professor Chan.

Excellent presentation

Susanna Cheung, head of retail banking, personal financial services Hong Kong, HSBC
Financial planners should work in partnership with their clients to clearly assess and communicate the latest market information and foreseeable trends, helping to make their financial goals attainable, says Susanna Cheung, head of retail banking, personal financial services Hong Kong, HSBC.

Mrs Cheung, one of the panel judges for the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards 2008, adds that planners should make an effort to understand customers' financial circumstances and foster long-term relationships.

"The finalists demonstrated excellent presentation skills, both orally and in their written proposals. They presented detailed written plans and showed effective communication skills in explaining their proposals and illustrations clearly," she notes. "The finalists particularly excelled in the Q&A section, demonstrating their professionalism, experience and integrity."

Equipped for growth

Simon Chow, deputy country business manager, Citibank (Hong Kong) Limited
"Educating customers on the importance of planning for their long-term wealth instead of simply focusing on short-term gains, combined with the support of professional associations, the authorities and banks has helped the financial planning industry develop into a highly professional field employing well qualified practitioners," says Simon Chow, deputy country business manager, Citibank (Hong Kong) Limited.

Mr Chow was impressed by the calibre of the HKIB Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards 2008 finalists and by their thorough preparation for the competition, which provided an opportunity for industry practitioners to refresh their knowledge and skills, and gain new insights on improving their service.

"The finalists were able to articulate complex concepts in language easy for their clients to understand. They also demonstrated a good knowledge base, encompassing wealth accumulation, growth, protection and transfer. This enabled them to provide comprehensive analysis for their customers and to draw up balanced proposals," Mr Chow remarks.

People-oriented approach

K C Kwok, honorary senior research fellow of the University of Hong Kong and a former Hong Kong government economist
Considering the mounting customer demand and the rapid increase in new investment tools and products, financial planners should examine their customers' portfolios based on the macro investment environment and make adjustments appropriate to prevailing market trends, says K C Kwok, honorary senior research fellow of the University of Hong Kong and a former Hong Kong government economist.

"Aside from following a strict code of conduct, professional financial planners must provide relevant product information, in-depth analysis and risk disclosure so that their customers can decide on suitable investments according to their financial circumstances," Mr Kwok adds. "I was glad to see that the participants in the HKIB Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards 2008 have these skills, as well as sound market knowledge and forward looking judgment."

Mr Kwok believes social problems such as an ageing population and economic uncertainties as well as a better understanding of wealth management have driven widespread concern regarding how people's current financial arrangements will affect their lives after retirement. A people-orientated approach in the financial planning industry will therefore contributes, to a healthier and more harmonious Hong Kong society.

Reflection of expertise

David Lam, deputy chief executive, Bank of China (Hong Kong) Ltd
David Lam, deputy chief executive, Bank of China (Hong Kong) Ltd, agrees that this year's participants delivered an outstanding performance. Having been involved in finalist interviews since the competition launched three years ago, he has seen standards improve.

"All the candidates demonstrated the expertise necessary for professional financial planners-from systematically analysing customers' lifestyles and financial planning needs to clearly explaining their options," Mr Lam notes.

In addition to delivering prepared presentations, the finalists were faced with unexpected questions related to hypothetical case studies. This session provided a reflection of the their professional acumen and insight.

"All the candidates were able to respond spontaneously and to the point, demonstrating a high level of professional skills, knowledge and experience," he says.

Mr Lam believes the annual competition has helped boost industry standards by recognising good performers, sharing best practice among individuals and driving quality financial service within organisations.

Demanding profession

William Leung, general manager, personal financial services and wealth management of Hang Seng Bank Limited
With investment tools getting more complex, banking customers are becoming more discerning and they tend to make additional efforts to manage their portfolio and learn about the financial products they invest in.

"To keep abreast of inevitable changes and future challenges, financial management planning professionals must uphold the industry standards while continuously increasing their capacity and capability as a professional in this highly demanding field," observes William Leung, general manager, personal financial services and wealth management of Hang Seng Bank Limited.

Mr Leung believes participants in the HKIB Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards have had a good chance to reflect on their professional standards, which was what made the competition a meaningful discourse. In particular, he has witnessed excellent performances through all the stages in the competition. "Some of the finalists demonstrated superior skills in advising customers on setting practical and attainable financial planning goals. I was most impressed by that," he says.

Facing the financial facts

Raymond So, associate professor, department of finance, the Chinese University of Hong Kong
Considering the current troubled global economy, many investors are in dire need of professional advice from qualified financial planners.

Such industry practitioners should focus on understanding their customers' needs and helping them achieve their goals, says Raymond So, associate professor, department of finance, the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Dr So believes that the HKIB Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards play an important role in promoting integrity, raising the overall standard of service providers and encouraging professional training. These all benefit customers by producing a higher standard of wealth management services.

"Instead of focusing on analysing conventional investment plans, this year's participants demonstrated a broader understanding of investment, even including analysis of trends in the real estate market," Dr So notes.

Upgrading the industry

Danny Leung, head, banking supervision division 4, Hong Kong Monetary Authority
One of the key objectives of the HKIB is to enhance the professional development of banking staff in Hong Kong. While obtaining the HKIB qualification is a reflection of industry practitioners' expertise, achievements in the HKIB Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards is an important incentive for the individual, says Danny Leung, head, banking supervision division 4, Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

Mr Leung regards joining the competition as an opportunity for participants to develop and add value to the services they offer to clients.

The judges' final decision was largely based on the candidates' performance in the interview session of the competition, where participants answered questions based on a hypothetical case study.

In order to respond to questions in a competent and confident manner, the finalists needed to have a good understanding of wealth management concepts and the various investment products as well as the associated risks.

"Banks are increasing their investment in human resources and will continue to enhance their training efforts. Without doubt, the overall standard of financial planners will continue to rise, to the benefit of customers and the general public," Mr Leung concludes.



Taken from Career Times 05 December 2008, p. A8

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