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IFPHK winners share their success secrets

After the competition, the waiting and then the big-night drama of this week's gala dinner concluding the SCMP/IFPHK Financial Planner Awards 2013, the stars of the evening might be hoping just to catch their breath and get back to normal.

But based on the experience of previous winners, doing that is unlikely to be easy. Being a winner in such a prestigious competition confers a higher professional profile and, as a result, it opens the door to new opportunities and obligations.

For example, past precedent shows there will be more direct approaches from potential new clients looking for quality financial advice, which now comes with a real mark of authority. There will be invitations to train, coach, mentor or advise peers and colleagues. And employers will now be that much more willing to consider faster advancement and new responsibilities for individuals who have shown they conduct themselves well in public and can be trusted to speak with authority.

Angie Chan Nga-ying, bancassurance services manager for DBS Bank (Hong Kong), has had a few days to get used to her new status. Even so, the scale of her success and what it means may take some time to fully sink in. After a stand-out performance in the final round of the competition, Chan was named Best Financial Planner of the Year for 2013, having previously been confirmed as winner of the practitioner category for the banking industry.

Not only that, in the separate category voted for by members of the public, who were invited to view two-minute video clips online, Chan was also selected as My Favourite Financial Planner of the Year.

"My colleagues gave me very good advice when practising for the final-round presentation on how to get the message across," Chan says. "Presenting is part of our day-to-day work, but in front of the judges - not just one client - you have to think about everything, from tone of voice and being positive and energetic, to dealing with unexpected questions."

The hypothetical case for the contest concerned a divorced couple and the division of their assets. While there were obvious priorities, such as making sure the children had a good education, many aspects were open to different interpretation.

"For me, the main thing was to split the assets in a fair way to reduce any chance of conflict between the couple and cause least trouble for the children," Chan says. "Strategically, I made a point of highlighting risks and recommending investments in bonds and more stable currencies [for the female client] which would give a steady future income."

Jenny Meyers Ching-man Wong, branch manager for Manulife (International), was the winner of this year's insurance industry category and was similarly quick to credit colleagues for her success. She says their advice was invaluable in honing her presentation so that she gave enough information to explain and impress while leaving out unnecessary details.

"My approach was to focus on the six core principles of financial planning to determine clients' financial status and evaluate their needs," she says. "Taking part in the competition has helped me widen my knowledge and given me the chance to look deeper at the type of complex divorce case which is becoming more common in Hong Kong."

Wilson Chan Wai-chung, chief wealth management adviser for Convoy Financial Services, was individual winner in the independent financial advisory category and believes the award - and the experience - will stand him in good stead over the next few years.

"During the competition, I tried to emphasise that our responsibility is to work for the client," he says. "In the Q&A session with the judges, as in any client meeting, I found the important thing was to justify your rationale and show the recommendations are valid."