This year's SCMP/IFPHK Financial Planner Awards include two new categories - for practitioners and university students - and an additional award for the company with most winners in the various rounds and sectors. 'The main thing, though, is that we are still asking people to write a holistic financial plan for a client,' said Angeline Chin, chief executive of the Institute of Financial Planners of Hong Kong.
For the first round, participants must submit a real-life case study. Those who make it through will give presentation about that case. In the final round, contestants must prepare another written plan based on information they are given and present that plan to a panel of judges. There will be separate awards for entrants from the insurance, banking and independent financial advisory sectors. 'We want to encourage experienced planners and those newer to the industry to take part,' said Ms Chin.
Students can enter the university category as individuals or teams. There had been a good initial response, with most entrants being first- and second-year students. 'We will give scholarship money to those who win and are looking to have a mentorship programme with one of the sponsors,' Ms Chin said.
Jimmy Woo Jack-man, executive director (supervision) for the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority was one of last year's judges. He said what helped top performers stand out was the ability to write a clear plan, without too much jargon and to balance different priorities in achieving the client's overall objectives. Verbal presentation skills were also important.
Mr Woo said some contestants tended to put more emphasis on their own company's products. Consequently, they seemed to be more intent on selling than advising. 'The challenge is always to see things from the client's perspective,' he said. 'Each situation is different and the key is to address needs and build a workable plan. It helps to remember that the whole financial planning process is dynamic and not a short-term thing.'