KUALA LUMPUR – Nearly 600 participants from financial planning firms throughout Malaysia banded together to join the 11th Annual AFA Conference held at Avante Hotel, Bandar Utama, on July 27.
Organised by the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) Malaysia, this year was the first time the conference was held in a physical space after two years of being held online due to the pandemic.
The theme chosen to mark the return of the physical annual conference is “Rising Higher” to which AFA President, Alfred Sek, said during his opening remarks, aptly reflects their aspirations to stay strong and united, to continue to keep rising above their vision so they can be the most effective voice to represent all financial advisors and planners in Malaysia.
“It also reflects AFA’s optimism about the opportunities brought about in the post-pandemic era. We can leverage the opportunities to continue rising higher, while remaining poised to work together with the Securities Commission (SC) and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to spearhead the regulatory changes for the advancement of the Malaysian financial services landscape together,” he said.
One of the highlights of Sek’s speech included the severe lack of licensed financial planners and representatives in Malaysia although there is strong demand for professional financial management advice.
“We don’t need to look very far to see that people want and understand the importance of engaging licensed financial planners. In Singapore, there are 62 financial planning firms with about 5,000 representatives. They serve the 3.7 million working population in the republic. These firms captured 26% of the life insurance market share there. However, in Malaysia, to date, we have only 37 financial advisory firms with only 1,300 representatives, serving a 15 million working population,” he explained.
If the same ratio for Singapore was to be applied in Malaysia, that would mean Malaysia requires at least 20,000 financial planning representatives to serve the 15 million population here, he added.
Financial planners play crucial role
During his keynote speech, the SC Chairman, Dato’ Seri Dr Awang Adek Haji Hussin, said that with the unique macroeconomic and structural issues that the world is facing currently, financial planners play a very crucial role to help Malaysians navigate through the challenges.
He said that although Malaysia’s economy is recovering, the country’s economy is highly integrated with the global economy and the financial markets are not immune to global events.
“There are also several significant long-term domestic issues that we must address. One of them is retirement security. Even before the pandemic, Malaysia’s retirement security was a major issue. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem. The permitted special withdrawals from EPF savings to smooth over the member’s cash flow needs, have left more people with inadequate retirement savings.
“Given the environment and prevailing circumstances, it is why we need more financial education and better financial planning. Malaysians will need assistance in managing their financial future now more than ever,” he explained.
Furthermore, he said that with the evolving Malaysian investor landscape, a more broader spectrum of business modalities should be made available along with easily accessible and holistic financial advisory services which complements the different levels of investor literacy to strengthen their investment abilities for retirement.
He added that it would result in enabling a greater range of capital market products such as fixed income and target date funds, as well as products across the wider financial services sector, including annuities and reverse mortgages.
To allow for the facilitation, he stated that the SC and BNM have initiated a joint review of the regulatory framework that governs financial planners and financial advisers with the aim of streamlining the framework and reducing regulatory costs. for intermediaries.
“It is hoped that this would ultimately allow financial planners and advisers to offer a wider range of financial advice,” he added.
Additionally, Dato’ Seri Dr Awang Adek also stated that the SC is working on initiatives to develop the financial planning industry that will be implemented under their 3-year joint action plan.
This year’s 11th Annual AFA Conference had four speakers namely Mark Liu – Branch Director of finexis advisory Pte Ltd (Singapore); Chong Jin Yoong – Author, Examiner & Trainer of AICB and the President of CFA Society Malaysia; Dr Wendy Liew – Multi Award-Winning and Certified Image Branding Trainer & Coach (GULL, USA); and Murphy Lum – Peak Performance Coach Talent Development Specialist & Business Strategist at People Coaching Sdn Bhd.
Each speaker gave talks on topics related to the financial planning industry; building strategic personal branding; and ways for entrepreneurs to rise higher.
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