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IFPHK revamps its CFP Certification

The Institute of Financial Planning in Hong Kong has restructured its certification processes.

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The IFPHK certifies financial advisers in Hong Kong and Macau under authorisation from the US-based Financial Planning Standards Board. It said it is introducing the new Associate Financial Planner (AFP) certification as "a progressive pathway to CFP Certification", to enable individuals with some basic qualifications to look after the "common financial planning needs" of clients.

Enrolment for the first AFP certification examination will begin on 1 July, the IFPHK said in a statement.

The organisation said it also plans to launch a new cross-border format for its CFP certication later this year.

Eleanor Wan, chief executive officer at IFPHK, said that revamping the body’s certification procedures would enable more clients to benefit from high quality financial planning services.

“This will gradually minimise the potential problems caused by inconsistent definitions of the terms ‘financial planning’ and ‘financial planner’ seen in recent years,” she said.

She added: “We expect the revamped CFP certification to encourage wider recognition of financial planning as a distinct professional practice.

"By implementing a fundamental professional framework for financial planning and continuing to develop the CFP certification, IFPHK demonstrates its commitment to working with regulators and other stakeholders to introduce and promote appropriate standards of service at different levels of financial planning competence.”

AFP certification

To be eligible for AFP certification, candidates are required to complete a 120-hour course and pass a 3-hour examination. Candidates must also posess one year of full-time qualified work experience, and agree to abide by a strict code of professional conduct that sets forth an AFP certificant’s ethical responsibilities to the public, clients and employers.

Successful candidates will develop skills in three key areas, the IFPHK said: the ability to identify clients’ objectives, needs and values; to identify and collect information required for financial advice; and the ability to assess and analyse information to formulate advice for consumption, retirement, investment products and personal risk management insurance products.

The IFPHK said its decision to revamp its financial planning certification process came as part of an ongoing review process of the way it certifies advisers. In early 2010 it conducted a survey of some  4,000 CFP certificants, and followed this up with a review review of its CFP certification programme a few months later. 

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