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CFP Professionals: Building Awareness and Overcoming Regulatory Limits

Taylor Liao, CFP

By Taylor Liao, CFP, Taiwan

CFP professionals in Taiwan have to accomplish thirty hours of CPD courses every year, but that may vary depending on the territory. It is hard to learn the knowledge of running an advisory firm due to the lack long standing financial planning firms in Taiwan. As I mentioned in my last blog, there are eleven FPSB members where the number of CFP certificants is lower than 1,000; Taiwan included. These eleven territories all share a public with a lack of awareness of financial planning.

In terms of CPD courses, finding a speaker with knowledge in one area such as estate planning or tax planning is easy, but finding a speaker who has a holistic knowledge about all the areas related to financial planning is much more challenging. There just aren’t enough CFP professionals who have dedicated themselves to the financial planning profession. It gets even more difficult to find a CFP professional who has knowledge about running a financial planning practice, creating a successful business model or selecting the right compensation model.

In territories where CFP professionals are still breaking through, it will take a lot of effort to establish a successful business model because it hasn’t been done before and there are no footsteps to follow. FPSB should try to offer this kind of CPD program through an online training program.

In Taiwan, we have more than 200 CFP certificants who own the CFP marks in Taiwan and China. Every two years, we have to renew our Chinese certification through FPSB China. In order to complete our CPD education, we use FPSB China’s website. I wonder if FPSB can study this model and create an e-learning website that provides different CPD courses from around the world.

TFPA (Taiwan Financial Planner Association) is the non-profit organization for CFP certificants. We have more than one hundred CFP certificants and run portions of the CPD programs. Most of the CPD teachers are selected from our members. The subjects vary from insurance, tax planning, trusts or investment management.

One thing we are currently doing successfully is helping find shareable ideas and opportunities for our members. We are running investment management and charitable trust programs at the moment. When we  recognize that a member of ours has a good idea or opportunity, we ask them to share this in a CPD training course. Discussion about the idea is continued every two weeks. Our main goal is to generate business and if this goes well, we might create a firm.

Building Awareness

Since financial planning and CFP professionals have low public recognition, we need a “tool” that will generate awareness of financial planning. We have chosen to promote charitable trusts because it is something that most clients want to include in their financial goals.

In referencing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, once an individual has reached the top level of self actualization, one of their interests is Financial Planning Maslows Hierarchy of Needsmost likely helping other people. By setting up a charitable trust, one decides where their money will be donated to, such as an orphanage. Within a charitable trust, one can set up rules of how the money is used. Typically, the trustee is a bank. The bank sets up the trust, gets it approved by the government and then manages the assets. CFP professionals can communicate with the client, understand the desired outcomes, and help the client get set up with the bank.

CFP professionals can also help draft the contract after hearing the client’s ideas. After the government approves the trust, the CFP professional will act as a supervisor. The client is charged a one-time advisory fee, as well as an annual supervisory fee. The supervisory fee is determined by a percentage of the trust.

Overcoming Regulatory Limits 

It’s the same case with investments. We formed a group of professionals to study asset management and find a solution to managing clients’ assets. Right now, regulation makes it challenging to be a financial planner because we are limited in the tools we can use (mutual funds, stocks, etc.) Regulators enforce that salespeople in fund houses and securities dealers must be full-time employees. Independent financial advisers cannot register as RIAs (Registered Investment Advisers) which means we cannot receive any commission rebate or support from product dealers. This regulation has a huge impact on financial planning in Taiwan. Basically, we can’t do investments and receive advisory fees from clients simultaneously.

We are trying to find ways around regulation limits. We have CFP professionals who specialize in asset management and they are looking for the best business models for advisors in this area, as well as developing the standard procedures: signing the contract, charging advisory fees, managing the investments properly, etc. We know we can’t go head-to-head with product providers, so we are differentiating ourselves by doing the financial planning piece for the client. We have to make it clear to the client that we are not selling products and receiving commissions. Instead, we are helping clients do portfolio management in order to accomplish his/her goals.

To be frank, the circumstances in Taiwan do not favor financial planners. Even if the external environment isn’t supportive, complaining about it doesn’t do much. CFP professionals must continue through hard times and find ways to build awareness and overcome regulatory limits.

Taylor Liao's Blogs

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