Winners come up with practical solutions for clients
The three category winners, advancing to the final round of the SCMP/IFPHK Financial Planner Awards 2014, are in the midst of a frenzied two weeks.
In the build-up to their September 11 presentations before a panel of judges, they must analyse a true-to-life case with all kinds of complexities, prepare a comprehensive written plan setting out their recommendations, and prime themselves for a follow-up Q&A session designed to test their reasoning and all-round financial knowledge.
They know, though, that whatever the outcome of the final round, getting this far in the competition already counts as a triumph. Simply participating has given them the opportunity to hone their skills and get up to date on available investment products. And by matching themselves against the best, all the contestants have gained new experience and have given their career prospects a significant boost.
"For me, the competition has been a golden opportunity to sharpen my judgment and skills and to broaden my horizons," says Annie Chu Pui-shan, a relationship manager for Wing Lung Bank and industry winner for the banking sector. "Preparing the case studies does take a lot of time, but it has helped my day-to-day work, improved my presentation techniques, and strengthened my understanding of what different clients want."
Heading towards the final, Chu says good preparation is the key to good performance. She will consult with colleagues, rehearse key parts of her presentation, and think hard about what could come up in the Q&A session. "I will make sure all the concepts are clear and that my plan includes protection against all possible risks," she says.
Carrie Ng Ka-wai, assistant associate director for
Convoy Financial Services and winner in the IFA (Independent Financial Advisory) category,
has realised that the secret to success in the competition, as in real-life dealings with clients, is to focus on giving down-to-earth and practical advice. Recommendations should be comprehensive, which means it is important to anticipate likely future needs and make adequate provision for those too.
"You have to establish priorities, but you may also need to make some assumptions," Ng says. "The essential thing is to meet the client's objectives, while explaining that it may not be possible to entertain all their goals simultaneously."
In the competition and in his role as senior business development executive with Ageas Insurance Company (Asia), Sidney Wong Sze-ling has found that it pays to put himself in the client's shoes and understand things from their perspective. This ensures his advice is realistic and forward-looking.
"For instance, in the first round case study, I recommended that my client use a cost-effective investment vehicle, such as the MPF, which is relatively transparent and easy to follow," says Wong, this year's category winner for the insurance sector.
"The aim then is to use my financial planning knowledge to provide extra insight and suggestions."