Top planners pick up prizes
Two days after being named Hong Kong’s Best Financial Planner of the Year for 2012 by the Institute of Financial Planners of Hong Kong (IFPHK), Leo Leung Wing-kwan, branch manager and senior financial planning consultant at Manulife (International), was still coming to terms with his success in this year’s competition.
He was, though, sure of one thing. The overall award, and his previously announced prize as industry winner for the insurance sector, was not just an individual achievement.
Certainly, he put a lot of hard work and preparation into the case studies and presentations for three tough rounds of competition. But Leung readily agrees that the support and advice from colleagues, senior managers and even clients were a great help and all played a part in his final success.
“It is a great honour for me to be the first person representing an insurance company to win the overall title,” Leung said. “My colleagues gave tremendous support throughout and it was great to have so many of them there at the dinner.”
Winning, he believes, came down to three main factors. The first was to offer a comprehensive solution covering all the key aspects of financial planning. Second was to perform well in the Q&A session. Third was to stay calm and maintain eye contact with the judges, even when beset by nerves.
“An important takeaway for me was having a ‘mind map’ of clients,” Leung said. “It is a very useful tool in complicated cases and I will keep using it in future.”
Banking sector winner Stephanie Tang Ho-yan, a senior wealth planning manager for Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong), knew at the outset that there were tough tests ahead.
She found the most challenging aspects of the competition were the time constraints, with a large volume of information to first analyse and then distil, and the need for a consistently high standard of hard and soft skills.
Experience of Standard Chartered’s in-house training programmes, and the fact that she discusses a wide range of financial products in day-to-day client meetings, proved invaluable.
“The competition was a great opportunity to benchmark myself and learn from practitioners in other parts of the industry,” Tang said. “Having been assessed and recognised by a prestigious panel of judges, I can also say the award is a confirmation of professional expertise, and it is encouragement to keep developing my career in financial planning.”
Her immediate aim is to re-examine her current work practices and improve where possible. Beyond that, her intention is to make a long-term commitment to improve the financial well-being of customers and, by doing that, take further steps in the industry.
“I am already telling people that the awards offer a great opportunity to prove yourself and move ahead professionally,” Tang said. “The key is don’t be shy, seek advice from colleagues and managers, and be ready to learn from other practitioners.”
Will Chan, industry winner for the independent financial advisory (IFA) sector, was similarly positive about the competition’s challenges and plus points. The chief wealth management adviser for Convoy Financial Services believes the main benefit of doing so well in such a high-profile event is that customers – current and potential – will now see him in a different light.
“This should boost my reputation in the profession and, because of that, make it easier to get new referrals from clients and other contacts,” he said. “The competition and the awards dinner also gave me the chance to meet senior executives from different parts of the industry and to learn about dealing with the media, all of which is good news.”
His advice for future participants was to practise their presentations and be fully prepared for a detailed test of all-round financial-planning knowledge. “Taking part will definitely improve your skills and help your career,” he said.