Awards raise standards for Hong Kong's financial planning sector
Sector encouraged to build strong foundation to withstand changes. Reports byJohn Cremer
Even in an age of frequent social media updates and instant celebrity status, the hard work and contributions of many important members of the community may not always get the attention they deserve.
"In many ways, for instance, financial consultants are among the unsung heroes of our society," says Derek Yung, CEO of Prudential Hong Kong. "They use their skills and integrity as trusted advisers to help customers find the right solutions to protect their long-term financial well-being and secure a future free from money worries."
Such work is especially vital at a time when demographic trends show Hong Kong's population is steadily ageing. This means people can expect to live longer, with the attendant need for sufficient income to maintain a good standard of living and to cover mounting medical costs and other incidentals.
Against that background, Prudential takes pride in the performance of its own team and in being a lead sponsor of the SCMP/IFPHK Financial Planner Awards 2014.
"The awards help to enhance the reputation of the industry in Hong Kong by providing an excellent platform for the best financial planners to showcase their skills," Yung says. "They also offer the chance for well-deserved recognition and encouragement for talented advisers to widen their expertise and continue to raise standards within the profession."
He adds that, besides in-depth financial know-how, the qualities needed for success in the sector include drive, determination, self-discipline and a sense of service. To this end, Prudential invests significant resources in training its financial consultants and provides the support to help them achieve success.
One example of the company's commitment is its in-house series covering the various aspects of a financial planner's professional development. It is designed to build knowledge of different investment products, soft skills and an understanding of the broader economic context. It also offers tools, market insights and information which can be shared with customers.
"We also encourage all our financial consultants to achieve professional qualifications such as the [Certified Financial Planner and Associate Financial Planner]," Yung says. "This includes intensive training sessions and workshops to help candidates prepare for the examinations and certification process."
Yung believes the sector must be ready to deal with change and expansion. For this reason, Prudential is building strong back-office systems, developed actuarial programmes to attract more graduates, and created a new role of chief risk officer. "These activities are behind the scenes, but are an essential foundation for the success of our financial consultants for years to come."
What's next:Feature of "My Favourite Financial Planner" public online voting, interview with 2014 overall winner, feature of final round presentation of practitioner, and interview with panel of judges