Convoy chief marketing officer praises efforts by university teams at IFPHK financial planner tilt
In agreeing to be one of the judges for the final of the SCMP/IFPHK Financial Planner Awards 2013 university student category, Jeffrey Li knew there would be some tough decisions ahead.
Going by the quality of the initial written proposals for the competition's case study, standards were sure to be high and margins between competing teams narrow - and that certainly proved to be the case.
"I was very impressed by the all-round level of preparation and the thought which had gone into the oral presentations," says Li, the chief marketing officer at Convoy Financial Services. "All the teams showed a good understanding of financial planning practices and techniques, and that made it very difficult to choose between them."
Li was looking for "sensible" recommendations which stood the best chance of meeting the stated goals of the young couple in the case study.
He also wanted to see a balanced view of the different aspects a comprehensive financial plan should cover: protection, investment, retirement and estate planning, and a good assessment of risks and rewards.
"In some ways, the case study may have seemed quite simple, focusing on a cash-rich couple considering different vehicles for investment. But it was important to look beyond the short term and see how having children will change their future financial needs, especially if the wife wants to take time off work," Li says.
In the final analysis, a few things set the winning team from the Chinese University of Hong Kong apart. Li says their written plan was very professional, they were the only team to highlight the risk disclosure and compliance aspects of conducting financial-service activities in Hong Kong, and they performed confidently during the oral presentation.
Their visual aids also clearly supported the case they were making, rather than distracting from it. "That caught the judges' eye," Li says. "We think about what a client wants to see and hear. You don't need background music when you are explaining the need for more insurance or the importance of retirement planning."
In addition to a cash award, the winners have also been given the opportunity to spend time in Convoy's office over the next year. Under this student-trainee programme, they will be able to attend financial-industry briefings and see how day-to-day operations are handled in an independent financial advisory.
The programme also includes talks by senior executives on what it takes to be successful, and workshops on topics such as mutual funds, stock allocation and diversification.
This experience may also goad students to consider a career in the sector and, as a first step, to find out more about relevant professional certification.
"We will invite members of the three top teams to take part in the student-trainee programme, though others can join too," Li says. "It is designed to give wider exposure to the profession and help students to decide if it would be the right career for them. For Convoy, it is important to promote a broader understanding of the need for financial planning services and to give new blood a chance to enter the profession."