IBF Connect (Financial Planning) 2016
Industry Launch of IBF Standards for Financial Planning
22 April 2016
The Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore (IBF), the national accreditation and certification agency for financial sector competencies, in close partnership with the key industry associations in the financial advisory industry, launched a new set of competency standards for financial planning, at the IBF Connect seminar held on 22 April 2016.
Keynote Address by Ms Merlyn Ee, Executive Director
Capital Markets Intermediaries Department I, MAS
Scaling New Heights - Building New Competencies for Tomorrow
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
1 Good afternoon. I am delighted to join you today and congratulate the Institute of Banking & Finance (IBF) on the launch of the Financial Planning Competency Standards.
Opportunities for financial advisers
2 The new IBF standards come at a time of opportunity for the financial advisory industry.
3 With greater financial awareness, Singaporeans are becoming more active in planning for their financial future. They will benefit from help and guidance in planning for their life goals, including setting up a family and preparing for retirement.
4 There is an increasing focus on proper retirement planning as Singaporeans are living longer than ever before. Improvements in medical care are leading to longer life expectancy. Over the last three decades, life expectancy has risen from 76 years to 85 years for women and from 71 years to 81 years for men. Life expectancy is expected to increase further in the years to come. This is a good thing.
5 But in order to enjoy our golden years we need to ensure we have adequate finances. This will mean that we need to start financial planning early and take advantage of the power of compounding. However, not many people have done so. Some of us may not know where to start or understand what options we have. This is even more challenging amid an uncertain economy and an abundance of choice given an expanding suite of financial products offered by financial institutions.
6 This is where financial advisers have an important role to play to help Singaporeans develop proper plans to balance their immediate financial demands, medium-term financial goals and future retirement needs.
Staying relevant by offering trusted, objective and holistic advice
7 A recent survey conducted by the Financial Planning Standards Board and released by the Financial Planning Association of Singapore (FPAS) revealed that consumers have strong interest in seeking financial advice for their retirement and investment planning. However, one key barrier for them is not knowing who to trust. Financial advisers can better serve their clients and build trust by putting the interests of their clients first, focusing on their needs and providing objective and holistic advice.
8 A financial adviser will be able to gain a competitive advantage if he goes beyond making product recommendations, towards advising clients on an integrated strategy to meet their financial goals and needs at different stages of life, such as getting married, buying a home, starting a family, or preparing for retirement. All of us will need a different plan because it has to take into account our personal goals, financial situation, values and risk tolerance. Consumers will naturally seek out advisers who are able to offer advice tailored to helping them meet their needs and achieve their aspirations.
9 In order to provide holistic advice, financial advisers will have to upskill and develop competencies in this area. They also need to keep abreast of changes in the financial industry as there are always new products, trends and regulations that will impact the quality of advice they dispense to their clients.
10 Even experienced professionals will find it useful to undergo regular training. This will provide them with a more complete understanding of financial planning, equip them with the skills to meet the increasingly complex needs of Singaporeans, and help them to expand the range of clientele they can serve, to include groups such as business owners and high net worth individuals.
Enhancing competencies among finance professionals
11 At the national level, the Government has been taking active steps to help workers upgrade themselves and stay relevant. The SkillsFuture initiative allows Singaporeans from all walks of life to develop to their fullest potential by giving them the opportunity to sign up for courses and training programmes. Through SkillsFuture, individuals will be able to deepen their skills in their chosen field or job.
12 For the financial advisory sector, MAS has introduced measures so that financial advisers can meet the evolving needs and expectations of consumers.
13 Under the Financial Advisory Industry Review (FAIR), we have introduced requirements for continuing professional development (CPD). To help financial advisers remain current and up-to-date in their knowledge of market and regulatory developments, they have to undergo structured CPD training every year. This includes training in ethics, rules and regulations.
14 MAS is also reviewing the Capital Markets and Financial Advisory Services (CMFAS) Examinations, to ensure their continued relevance for professionals working in the capital markets and financial advisory services industries. We have plans to introduce content on ethics and skills so that representatives can better serve their clients. The CMFAS Examinations will also be redesigned to allow greater customisation to the job functions of representatives. Examination modules catering to the core roles of representatives will be expanded to cover ancillary functions. This will allow representatives to take fewer modules compared with the current requirements to take separate modules for each regulated activity. We also aim to provide flexibility for representatives to take multiple product knowledge modules in a single sitting, if they wish. MAS will be consulting on these proposals in due course.
IBF Financial Planning Competency Standards
15 I am heartened that the financial sector is joining us on this journey to enhance competencies in the financial advisory sector.
16 The newly-launched IBF Standards for Financial Planning is an excellent example of a collaborative effort with the industry.
17 The IBF Standards aim to instil high standards of ethics and professionalism so that financial advisers can earn the trust of their clients. The Standards will also help financial advisers to foster deep technical competencies, and further enhance their capabilities to offer quality financial advice to their clients.
18 The Standards will allow financial advisers to upgrade themselves no matter how many years they have already spent on the job. For new practitioners, the "IBF Qualified" certification enables them to develop foundational knowledge of ethics, laws, regulations, and financial products. They will also pick up technical skills relating to cash management, insurance, investments and retirement.
19 For senior practitioners, the "IBF Advanced" certification will help them to attain more complex skills such as providing advice on business ownership and estate planning.
20 The IBF Standards will also enable aspiring team leaders and managers preparing for supervisory roles to further enhance their capabilities to manage teams and provide supervisory oversight of their colleagues. This includes adopting a Balanced Score Card approach in performance management, and using risk monitoring techniques to ensure high standards of professionalism for their teams.
21 IBF has worked closely with FPAS, the Insurance and Financial Practitioners Association of Singapore (IFPAS) and the Singapore College of Insurance (SCI) to confer the IBF-accreditation status on the widely-recognised Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Chartered Financial Consultant/Singapore (ChFC/S) qualifications awarded by FPAS and SCI respectively. Practitioners who successfully obtain these professional designations from 2016 onwards will be eligible to apply for "IBF Advanced" certification.
IBF Financial Planning Working Group
22 I would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to IBF's Financial Planning Working Group, which was previously led by Mr Tan Hak Leh and now by Dr Khoo Kah Siang. The Working Group consists of senior professionals from the financial advisory sector and industry associations, including FPAS, IFPAS, the Association of Financial Advisers (Singapore) (AFAS), and the Life Insurance Association, Singapore (LIA). The Working Group worked tirelessly to develop a comprehensive and well-designed set of competency Standards. The members tapped on their experience to ensure that industry best practices were reflected in the Standards. They also adopted a forward looking approach and incorporated emerging developments, such as financial planning for business owners, in the Standards.
Support from employers
23 I am pleased that the financial advisory industry has shown its support for the IBF Financial Planning Standards. Financial institutions such as AIA Singapore, AXA Life Insurance, Great Eastern Life, Great Eastern Financial Advisers, IPP Financial Advisers, NTUC Income and Prudential Singapore have committed to adopt the Standards as part of their training roadmap for their advisers.
24 We strongly encourage banks, as well as more insurance companies and financial advisory firms, to join these early adopters to leverage on the IBF standards to equip your advisers with broad-based and in-depth capabilities to enhance their financial advisory careers.
25 Financial advisers should also take the initiative to invest in skills upgrading by enrolling in IBF's accredited training courses, and undertaking the IBF certification pathways.
26 In closing, I would like to again commend IBF and its Financial Planning Working Group for your excellent work on the IBF Financial Planning Standards. This is indeed a major milestone, for it is the first time the financial advisory industry has come together to develop a set of common competency standards for industry professionals.
27 I look forward to these standards becoming the benchmark for professionalism, competence and trust for financial advisers in the years to come.
28 Going forward, we welcome more initiatives from the industry to complement MAS' efforts to continually upgrade the capabilities of our financial advisers, so as to meet the evolving financial planning needs of Singaporeans.
29 Thank you, and I wish you a fruitful afternoon ahead.
A Roadmap for Professional Excellence
The IBF Standards for Financial Planning provides a structured professional development roadmap and certification pathway for financial advisers (FA). They are the result of an industry partnership among the key industry associations in the financial advisory industry. This represents the first time that the financial advisory industry has come together to agree on a common set of competency standards for the industry.
The IBF Standards for Financial Planning provides a comprehensive competency roadmap for financial advisers. Besides covering core skills in constructing holistic financial plans and developing deep technical skills relating to cash management plus insurance, investment and retirement planning, the IBF Standards for Financial Planning introduces several new competency areas in guiding an FA's professional development:
Financial planning for High Net Worth Individuals
Analysis and development of bespoke insurance and investment solutions for HNWIs
Financial planning for Business Owners
Corporate financial statement analysis, business ownership implications on personal income and wealth
Management of FA representatives
Using a Balanced Score Card approach in performance management, coaching of FA representatives to ensure quality of financial advice, risk monitoring and control procedures to ensure high standards of professionalisms
Ethical principles in financial advisory process
Client data protection, management of conflict of interest, transparency and disclosure
Dr Khoo Kah Siang, President of LIA, said, "The life insurance industry spearheaded the collaborative development of the IBF's new Financial Planning Standards. In a rapidly evolving market, we strongly encourage financial adviser representatives across all distribution sectors to upgrade or refresh their skills and knowledge through this certification. We wish to see the IBF Financial Planning certification becoming the national brand of professionalism, competence and trust among the public and consumers."
Manulife Singapore wins customer service award for third consecutive year
3 June 2016
Manulife Singapore has received the "Contact Centre of the Year - Insurance (Under 20 Seats)" Award in the 2015 International Customer Relationship Excellence (CRE) Awards for the third consecutive year.
Organised by the Asia Pacific Customer Service Consortium (APCSC), the International CRE Awards aims to recognise outstanding companies and individuals in the Asia-Pacific region for their achievements in service quality and customer relationship excellence.
This year, two of Manulife Singapore's customer service executives were also recognised in the Individual category. Ng Han Chong clinched the Customer Service Professional of the Year (Service Center) - Winner award, while Cai Yishan received the Customer Service Professional of the Year (Contact Center) - Merit award.
Mr Naveed Irshad, President and CEO of Manulife Singapore said:
"We are delighted to receive the 'Contact Centre of the Year - Insurance (under 20 seats)' Award for the third consecutive year, which affirms our continued efforts to provide the highest standards of service to our customers.
We endeavour to put our customers at the heart of everything we do and this accolade from APCSC will inspire us to work even harder to provide an unsurpassed experience to our customers across all their interactions with us.
I would also like to congratulate two of our team members, Han Chong and Yishan, for their wonderful achievements in being honoured among the best customer service talents in the region."
|Manulife Singapore recognised at the International Customer Relationship Excellence Awards Ceremony in Hong Kong
The Good Life Co-operative Conference
Shangri-La Hotel Singapore
10 June 2016
Theme: Cost of a sustainable healthcare ecosystem - Who pays what?
The Good Life Co-operative (TGLC), in collaboration with the Life Insurance Association, Singapore (LIA Singapore) and Swiss Re held The Good Life Co-operative Conference 2016.
The conference highlighted the impetus to address rising healthcare costs through a tripartite partnership between policy makers, healthcare providers and insurers. Graced by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Minister of State for Health, the TGLC Conference advocated the need to create a sustainable healthcare ecosystem and the management of medical inflation against the backdrop of Singapore's ageing population and increasing healthcare costs, as well as share international best practices.
"We have seen a clear trend of escalating healthcare costs over the last few years. Responding appropriately to this challenge necessitates a critical re-appraisal of the respective roles of each stakeholder, as well as how they can effectively work together in maintaining a healthcare system that is robust, resilient and sustainable. Beyond simply raising awareness, the goal of the conference is to determine what we each, as stakeholders, can do to promote affordable and good healthcare for all," said Dr Carol Tan, Chairman, TGLC.
In support of multi-stakeholder collaboration to better address cost escalation over the long-term, Dr Khoo Kah Siang, President of LIA Singapore, said, "LIA believes that central to sustaining an ecosystem of healthcare providers and practitioners, and insurers that is able to provide quality and accessible healthcare, is the need to work together on data collection and monitoring of healthcare costs in more effective ways than what is currently available. Having access to the average costs of care, for example, will reveal healthcare consumption patterns and charging trends, which will help to identify possible solutions to keep healthcare affordable. Insurers will also be able to leverage such data to improve claims management."
Claims inflation for IPs have also been ranging between an average of 12 to 17 per cent per year since 20111, and higher claims inflation may result in the need for premium increases to ensure that it remains commercially viable for IP insurers to continue providing these policies.
In a Swiss Re report on Care Solutions in Asia, it was observed that Singaporeans feel that they are underprepared for future care needs, for themselves and/or their parents, and not being able to afford future care needs was the top concern among Singaporeans2.
"There are emerging stresses due to Singapore's ageing society, combined with rising incidences of chronic diseases. The current financing system to gain access to immediate and high quality healthcare is too dependent on household income and is unsustainable in the long-term. There is an urgent need for the insurance industry to work together with the government and healthcare providers to find solutions to finance the healthcare needs of Singaporeans. One way is to look at developing innovative methods to help Singaporeans remain healthy and active even as our average lifespan increases. This year, we are partnering with TGLC on The Good Life Co-operative Conference which is a step in the right direction, bringing together key stakeholders to discuss how we can work together to make the society more resilient," said Winnie Ching, Head of Health & Medical Solutions, Life & Health Asia, Swiss Re.
Key topics of discussion at the TGLC Conference 2016 included:
Managing Healthcare Costs: A Tripartite Approach
Economics of Healthcare: Sustainable Financing of our Future Needs
The Ethical Aspects of Cost Containment
Keeping Healthcare Affordable for all Singaporeans
Improving Healthcare Delivery through Partnership
LIA was represented by Ms Angela Hunter from Prudential who spoke on "Keeping Healthcare Affordable for all Singaporeans".
1 "Rising health insurance claims threaten all", The Business Times, 17 Aug 2015.
2 Source: Spotlight on care solutions in Asia, Swiss Re, 2015