Champions reap rewards
"My clients see the award as proof of my ability and commitment," says Alpha Cheng Hung-faat, associate financial planning manager with Prudential Assurance and winner of the insurance category.
"Finding new business is very important in the financial planning industry, and after I put news about this award on my Facebook page, I was contacted by five potential new clients the same day." Cheng admits getting this far in the competition was not easy. At times he was excited, nervous and frightened by the challenges in the first two rounds, but felt it was a chance to test himself against the best in the industry.
He got more than he bargained for when his laptop shut down during his second-round presentation, but good preparation and a calm demeanour saw him through.
"I practised thousands of times and had printed out copies of my Powerpoint slides which I could hand to the judges," he says. "Maybe they saw it as a good example of risk management."
For Agnes Lo Yim-ping, senior wealth management adviser with Convoy Financial Services, and winner of the independent financial advisory category, the recognition earned so far is just a bonus. Her main reasons for entering the competition were to learn and develop her soft skills.
"As a good financial planner, you need [comprehensive] knowledge of investment products, but also of insurance, estate planning and mortgages," she says. "I had a basic understanding of all these things, but took this chance to study more and contacted lawyers and accountants to find out about tax and estate problems."
Alfred Sit Wai-hong, a wealth management manager with HSBC and category winner for banking, also feels that just the experience of taking part has brought lasting benefits. In preparing for the competition, colleagues emphasised to him the importance of taking a holistic approach to each case, focusing more on a client's cash flow, income, mortgage payments and personal aspirations.
"I'm now more confident with clients," he says. "And, in my presentation to the judges, I made it clear that communication with a client is a lively, two-way conversation to understand their financial situation."