A web competition will help the IFPHK to see how consumers choose their financial planners Practitioners in any profession can easily get wrapped up in their own view of the world. Frequent repetition leads them to believe that self-created maxims and PR material must be true and, by implication, whatever product, service or information they offer must be the best available and exactly what the public wants. Keen to avoid such missteps, the Institute of Financial Planners of Hong Kong (IFPHK) has introduced an online platform encouraging direct feedback from members of the public, and allowing them to vote for 'My Favourite Financial Planner' after viewing video clips of the leading second-round contestants in the SCMP/IFPHK Financial Planner Awards 2008. 'We are always looking for ways to get consumers involved,' said Angeline Chin, chief executive of the IFPHK. 'Through this voting process, we want to find out what selection criteria members of the public use in choosing a financial planner. We know what criteria we think are most important when using our professional judgment, but this will give us an all-round picture with a wide range of views.' Nine contenders will compete for the new award category, representing the top three entries from each of the fields of banking, insurance and independent financial advisers. Voting will last for about a month from early September to early October, with the winner receiving a special award distinct from those in the main competition. The basis of assessment will be each candidate's performance in one of three 10-minute panel discussions overseen by senior professional practitioners, which will be posted on the IFPHK's website. Each discussion will give the financial planners a chance to show their poise, personality and expertise. Website viewers will then be able to vote for the person they feel has provided the best advice or comments on various testing topics and shown the ability to 'connect' effectively with a client. 'The people who vote should be looking for someone who can provide sound professional views and try to identify what it is about the way of communicating or style of presentation that helps one person to outperform the others,' Ms Chin said. She said it was important for industry regulators, the IFPHK and firms practising in the sector to know what clients really looked for in their professional advisers. 'It is crucial to have consumers involved in the process because they are the ones who, in the end, use the services of financial planners. We also hope that by taking part in this voting process, consumers will start to give more thought to managing their own financial matters and be aware of the key ethical practices.'