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Preparation pays dividends

A few weeks of hard work over the summer and a self-taught crash course in the technicalities of financial planning paid off handsomely for four students from the Chinese University of  Hong Kong (CUHK). Their efforts saw them claim top prize in the university category of the SCMP/IFPHK Financial Planner Awards 2013, after a presentation which impressed the judges with its scope, clarity and foresight.

“It took us about a month to analyse the case, do the background research and work together on the written proposal,” said team spokesperson Lo Cheuk-lim, a second-year student of quantitative finance and risk management.

“It was a pretty intense week before the submission deadline. We then had to work on the oral presentation, where each of us was going to speak for three or four minutes and had to be ready to answer questions too.”

The challenge for the CUHK team – completed by Chan Fai-hong, Kwok Chun-nga and Ng Tsun-ming, all in their second year studying quantitative finance – was that although they knew a fair amount of complex financial theory, they did not know so much about devising a personal plan that offered solutions for “real life” problems. They decided to each take responsibility for different aspects, such as investment, insurance and retirement planning.

The case study centred on the decisions facing a young married couple with a reasonable, but certainly not generous, joint income.

They wanted to buy a home in Hong Kong, start a family and, in due course, have enough to give their children a good education. If studying in Britain, this ideally included having properties there, both as a base and as a good long-term investment. At the same time, they must make provision for the usual expenses – taxation, health insurance and the like – and set enough aside to cover their future retirement needs.

“We have really learned a lot from the whole experience,” Lo said. “There is the teamwork and confidence that comes from preparing for the competition and doing well. We have also learned about the importance of financial planning, which is something we can put to good use in our own lives.”

The competition’s runner up – the team from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) – was similarly sure that the hard work and time invested had been more than worthwhile.

“We have done a lot of in-class projects on economic theory, but wanted to get a better understanding of personal finance and things like mutual funds and insurance,” said spokesperson Tong Yuxiang who, together with fellow team members Chu Wai-hei, Jiang Mengfei and Lau Shing-yan, is in the second year of a degree in quantitative finance. “Overall, the competition was a great chance for us to apply some theoretical concepts, but also to learn about real-life solutions.”


First Prize
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Chan Fai-hong, Kwok Chun-nga, Lo Cheuk-lim and Ng Tsun-ming

Second Prize

Chu Wai-hei, Jiang Mengfei, Lau Shingyan and Tong Yuxiang

Third Prize
City University of Hong Kong

Mo Ka-chun, Pang Hiu-lam, Tse Chi-ping and Wong Chi-keung

Consolation Prizes
Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Fan Hongtao, Lan Lan, Nan Mingxue and Zhao Dan-wei
The University of Hong Kong
Lu Xiaoting, Shi Wei and Sun Yanshu