There is no blueprint for success at the SCMP/IFPHK Financial Planner Awards, but one thing is certain: good preparation is vital.
"In some ways, taking part in the competition is like a revision class," says Rosetta Fong, chief executive officer of Convoy Financial Services.
Its consultants have taken home many top prizes over the years. "It reminds contestants how important it is to take a holistic approach to financial planning and makes them review the way they deal with clients," Fong adds.
Over three rounds, the awards test the full range of professional attributes - product knowledge, written proposals, interpersonal skills, and discerning clients' needs. This echoes day-to-day situations and ensures the best prepared, most adept entrant from each category - banking, insurance and independent financial advisory (IFA) - stands out.
Convoy makes a point each year of encouraging staff to enter. The company sees it as a great chance for both experienced and junior consultants to sharpen their skills and discover what they still need to improve upon.
"In their day-to-day meetings, financial planners may start to see and do things a certain way and ask clients the same questions," Fong says. "Taking part in the awards, they have to present [complex cases] and explain what their advice would be in different situations. This is a reminder of the need for comprehensive client proposals and to follow the six recommended steps of good financial planning."
To help entrants, Convoy provides advice and support. It begins with managers and past winners outlining what is involved. The training department then provides general comments about the design and content of written submissions and PowerPoint slides. Coaching sessions offer tips on presentation style and an in-house panel gives a taster of what it is like to field questions.
"The first impression you make on the judges - and on clients - [is equally important]," says Fong. "You must appear professional, mature, trustworthy and honest."
Fong puts Convoy's lead in cumulative individual and company awards down to a couple of key factors. The first is that if