109.8台灣銀行家雜誌第128期 / By Bryan Fu(傅清源)
FPSB Ltd. CEO Noel Maye's InterviewBankers Digest
Q: As more countries are reinitiating Quantitative Easing monetary policies, a low interest rate environment is becoming inevitable. Bank’s wealth management customers, especially high-net-worth individuals, are worried about their wealth. From your point of view, has the importance of CFP certification been enhanced, and how should CFP professionals help their clients better manage their assets during these uncertain times? A: We are in an unprecedented time, with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting every investor, every consumer, at the same time globally, not just middle income people, but also high-net worth individuals as well. We're in an environment where people all around the world are under a lot of stress. People feel a lot of uncertainty about their current and future health, family and financial situations. In this environment, consumers appreciate the value of financial planning, the importance of working with a competent and ethical financial advisor. At a time like this, the importance of working with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional is greater than ever. I was talking to a CFP professional recently who said that, at times like this, people don’t look for products, they look for advice. This is so true. Amidst the pandemic, it's critically important that individuals have the ability to find a financial advisor who is competent, who is ethical, and who will work in their interests, assessing their current situation, and then developing strategies and helping them stay on track for their future goals. Consumers are looking for a financial professional they can trust to help them live their today and plan their tomorrow. FPSB Ltd. has done global consumer research, which shows that while consumers generally don’t feel confident about their financial knowledge, those with a financial advisor (and even more so for those who work witha CFP professional) are better able to stay on track, be less stressed and be more confident in their situation. And working with a professional advisor empowers consumers to play an active role in planning their own futures. Several FPSB Affiliates administering the CFP certification program in the United States, South Africa and Hong Kong have done research with the CFP professional community amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. CFP professionals were asked, what is happening with their clients? What is happening in financial planning practices right now? The research shows more consumers are reaching out to CFP professionals for advice. And the main advice from CFP professionals to their clients is to stay steady, to stick with their financial plan in the midst of uncertain times. Of course, CFP professionals are also helping their clients look at short-term goals and making sure that the decisions they're making amidst the COVID-19 pandemic are going to serve clients well now, and for years to come. The most important role that financial advisors, wealth managers, CFP professionals can play with their clients right now is to be a resource, to be a comfort, to be a trusted professional advisor that actively engages their clients to help them manage their concerns, help them address the current situation, and ensure they stay on track for the future. Q: We have seen a significant increase in the number of CFP professionals globally in recent years. Which territories have shown rapidincrease, and why? What do you see as the trends driving demand for professional financial planners? And how would you evaluate the shortage of financial planners? A: Financial Standards Planning Board Ltd. currently has CFP and other certification programs in 27 countries and territories around the world. We ended last year with over 188,000 CFP professionals around the world, and about 1,800 of those in Chinese Taipei. We have seen the number of CFP professionals double around the world in the last 15 years, and that growth has come from different countries. Last year, some of the largest territory growth in the number of CFP professionals was in the United States, which is one of the oldest programs, having launched in the early 70s. Another mature market for CFP certification that also saw strong growth last year was Japan. We also saw strong CFP professional growth in the People’s Republic of China, Chinese Taipei, Brazil, and Indonesia, what could be considered developing markets for financial planning. So, what we’re seeing in terms of the growth of CFP professionals around the world is a strong interest in financial planning and CFP certification across all markets where financial planning is emerging, developing or quite mature. The fact that there was such strong growth in the United States, where the program is fifty years old, and also strong growth in our developing and emerging markets, is a positive for the continued future growth of financial planning and CFP certification around the world. Here locally, Financial Planning Association of Taiwan, with the strong support of the Taiwan Academy of Banking and Finance, has done a tremendous job over the last several years in adding hundreds of new CFP professionals and maintaining a strong community of CFP professionals. This type of partnership that we see in Chinese Taipei, between professional bodies, training organizations and firms, is critically important to the growth of financial planning and CFP certification around the world. As Financial Planning Standards Board and the global FPSB Affiliate network develop financial planning and CFP certification globally, we seek to bring together an ecosystem that will support the development of our profession, much as you’ve done in Chinese Taipei. While we have close to 190,000 CFP professionals around the world, and another half a million qualified advisors and associated financial planners, moving up to CFP certification, there's still tremendous opportunity for growth so that more consumers around the world can access competent and ethical financial planners. As FPSB looks to develop a pipeline of future entrants to the financial planning profession, we want to involve financial service firms and bring them with us on the journey from selling products, to providing limited financial advice, to offering holistic financial planning, adopting a client-centric approach so that all advice and products are provided in the clients’ interest. We’re working with firms and education/training bodies to make sure that we have the right content in our program, to develop competent and ethical financial planners who have the technical and relationship skills to serve client. This year, the global FPSB network has begun to focus on the next generations of financial planners – Millennials, Gen-Z, the Alphas. We’re looking at this future group of professionals, asking, how can we make financial planning an attractive profession? How can we deliver education, training and certification in a way that's attractive to the next generation, and the generation after that? And how can we work with employers hiring these young people to help develop them as professionals and to have them join the global CFP professional community? Financial planning is the future state, the natural evolution, of financial services. All over the world, the trends we're seeing, from regulators looking for more client-centric behavior in financial services; from firms looking to go on the journey from product selling to limited scope advising to financial planning; from consumers having an increased need for financial advice from a professional that is competent and ethical and who will work in their clients’ interest, speak to a bright future for financial planning and CFP certification. There's a huge demand and a huge need around the world for increased numbers of competent and ethical financial planners. And that's why we're seeing the growing global interest in CFP certification and being part of a global profession. Q: In this low-interest-rate environment, how can CFP professionals help their clients build portfolios which can maintain or even increase their value? May we know which financial products will be useful or popular, and why? A: Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, CFP professionals are certainly helping their clients look at their portfolios. But they’re doing a lot more, too. Financial planning is about all aspect of a client’s situation, looking atgoals, needs and objectives; looking at the current financial situation; looking at a client’s spending, tax situation, estate planning needs, and retirement needs; and, yes, looking at the clients’ investing needs. The financial planning process is about taking all of those areas and putting together a road map, or financial plan, so that the client can live their today, and plan for their tomorrow, with confidence and peace of mind. With the COVID pandemic, clients are experiencing financial stress, health stress, even social anxiety. The primary focus for CFP professionals at the moment is working with their clients to re-assure them, and to help them stay the course. As part of that process, CFP professionals are working with clients to look at where they’re invested, make near-term adjustments to help them maintain asset value, and help improve their situation in a volatile, uncertain environment. When it comes to particular financial products CFP professionals might be recommending or using with the clients, a lot of that depends on each individual client situation. Based on the client's goals, needs and objectives, the financial advice is going to be customized to each. I read recent research by the World Federation of Exchanges saying that COVID-19 wiped out trillions of dollars from the global markets this year. So clearly, there's strong interest on the part of investors, and certainly high-net worth individuals, to protect and maintain current asset values and manage volatility. Central to the financial planning community's work with clients would be to work with clients to stabilize their current situation, to protect from the downside and take advantage of the upside. As a result, we’re likely to seeCFP professionals moving clients into more passive investment vehicles such as exchange-traded funds, and maybe evaluating alternative investments such as real estate investment trusts. I read a report recently that said high-net worth individuals are increasingly interested in sustainable investments that involve a proper level of governance that adequately assesses the environmental and sustainability impact of the investments. Such investments could add an opportunity for increasing return in a low-interest rate environment, while also doing something good for the planet. Beyond revisiting portfolios, in the current environment, people are taking the opportunity to look at what’s important to them and their loved ones, and looking at how their financial situation and choices are aligning with their life goals and values. It's a great opportunity for investors to work with CFP professionals on making sure they're making good financial and life choices for themselves now, and for their future as well. Q: Is Hong Kong National Security Law going to change Hong Kong's standing as an international wealth management center? If capitals are moving to other countries, do you have any suggestions for how Taiwan can to take advantage of this opportunity? A: If you look at the history of how financial centers have evolved around the world, there's a bit of a 'rise and fall' cycle. Previously, Amsterdam was a financial center, then it went to London, and then it moved to New York... Asia is now on the rise in terms of the prominence of its financial centers. Currently, we've got several financial centers around the world, and depending on who you ask, some may say, it's New York! It's London! It's Taipei! When you consider what makes a city a financial center, it's about the ability for that city to bring together an element of trust in the marketplace. It's critically important as people are looking to invest, to participate in that financial center, that they feel confident in the capabilities and the experiences that are in that financial center. They're looking for some level of comfort in the government policies, the financial policies, the overall stability of the financial center. If Taipei is looking to be recognized as a financial center, maybe the most important financial center in the world... you’ll need to look at those factors and determine, how do they fit with you? Are you able to provide that level of trust, that confidence, that attractiveness of the global community to your marketplace? And will you be able to provide stability, knowing that things happen in the world and lots of things are in flux? One of the things Taipei can do is embrace a culture of client-centric professional financial advice from a community of competent and ethical financial advisors, such as with a community of CFP professionals. This community of client-centric professionals can work with your government and regulators, to make sure that you've got laws and regulations that serve and protect the interests of investors. Taipei already has an openness to the world, to new financial services products, to technology and innovation, and to international standards. An embrace of global standards for financial advice and financial planning in your territory will position you well and help attract global investors. There's also an opportunity to really understand and embrace some of the innovations we're seeing in financial advice and financial services around the world. Finding a way to integrate that technology with the human advisor element to provide a customized experience is something all investors welcome, but high-net worth investors demand. Lastly, an embrace of continuous professional development, so that the financial advice and financial planner communities in Chinese Taipei keep up to date with changes in products, regulations and laws, practice methods and client needs. Q: The world is changing faster than ever. How will financial planning evolve in the future? What should the CFP professional be capable of in the future? A: Financial Planning Standard Board started engaging on the implications of financial technology innovation on the future of financial planning back in 2015. We provided feedback to the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) on the limitations of automated advice (or roboadvisors) compared to human advisors, and the challenge of having fully automated systems provide suitable advice in the face of complexity. Over the last several years, FPSB has done a lot of research, a lot of thinking, on what the implications and opportunities of fintech innovation could be for human advisors. Our point of view is that the future of financial advice, the future of financial planning, is hybrid. It's going to be this combination of really skillful, qualified humans using the best technologies to provide a hyper-customized experience to their clients. It's time for financial advisors and financial planners to let computers do what they do best (the computation, the aggregation, the tracking). And the humans need to really augment their human skills, to in effect become more human for their clients. FPSB is putting more emphasis on behavioral finance, on how to build deeper, meaningful relationships with clients. How to go beyond the first answer and ask the second question and get a third answer, and to really understand the client's goals, needs, to listen to the client, and work more like a coach and guide to encourage clients to be active participants in the process. FPSB’s vision of the future of financial planning is very much a technology-enabled profession. As the global professional body for financial planning, and the financial planning authority in each of our territories, we want to work with practitioners, with financial services firms, with technology firms, with regulators and government, and with consumer protection groups to create an ecosystem where financial planning will be an attractive, technology-enabled profession that attracts young people, career changers, people who are already established in financial services... to join us on the journey to establish financial planning as a globally recognized profession. As I look to the future, I would like to get to a point where every household will have a doctor, an accountant, a lawyer and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional. I’d like to encourage employers to make financial planning an employee benefit so that financial planning will be something available to all consumers all around the world, not just high-net worth individuals, which is already well-established. Each year, to increase financial literacy, to increase personal empowerment around financial capability, and to promote increased awareness of the value of financial planning and of having a financial plan, FPSB Ltd. and the global FPSB network host World Financial Planning Day in partnership with the International Organization of Securities Commissions’ World Investor Week. The Financial Planning Association of Taiwan and the Taiwan Academy of Banking and Finance have been tremendous supporters of this initiative. All over the world, FPSB would like every individual, regardless of net assets, to become more aware of the fact that financial planning is valuable, that they can have a vision for their future, they can make sound decisions today, and, when they want to find a competent and ethical financial planner, they'll have access to a CFP professional who has committed to putting their clients’ interests first.