Keynote Address at the FPAM Annual Signature Financial Planning Symposium
7 October 2020  |   By: Datuk Syed Zaid Albar, Chairman, Securities Commission Malaysia
Keynote Address
by Datuk Syed Albar
Chairman of Securities Commission Malaysia
at the FPAM Annual Signature Financial Planning Symposium
“Live Your Today – Plan Your Tomorrow”
7 October 2020

A very good morning to you distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.


I'm delighted to be your guest of honour today delivering the keynote for the Financial Planning Association of Malaysia (FPAM) at your symposium this year titled, "Live Your Today – Plan Your Tomorrow".

2. In the next 5 minutes, I'm going to be talking about the importance of education, and reflect briefly on the awards. I also have an announcement to make.
3. First, just a little bit of context. Clearly 2020, has been an extraordinary year, and what started out as a health crisis has not only impacted the global economy but also far-reaching implications for the financial wellbeing of investors.
4. And it's in that context that we need to focus, first. It's precisely at this time that investors seek safe harbours, new opportunities, and of course most importantly, guidance. So your role, at FPAM cannot be understated at this current time.
5. Investors are going through very uncertain times, but they are also increasingly aware of the significance of financial planning and management. And that's once again where you make a very important and very large contribution. And that brings me to education, because financial planning has become such an important part of financial wellbeing for Malaysians.
6. The opportunity in the market, perhaps not surprisingly, is accompanied by unscrupulous factors, who want to take that opportunity and advantage for themselves. They are trying to exploit vulnerable investors, and there is a worrying trend as the numbers of scams has increased particularly during this challenging time. And that's why, I want to focus on investor education financial literacy.
7. Unfortunately, there are still many people out there who get conned by these scams because they have little exposure or understanding of useful financial concepts, basics, such as inflation, interests or diversification of risks. And that's precisely why it's so important that we are all involved in improving financial literacy in a systematic, sustained and coordinated way, that's where the Financial Education Network (FEN), an inter-agency grouping co-chaired by the SC and the Bank Negara Malaysia is committed to working collaboratively with organisers and industry associations to deliver the National Strategy for Financial Literacy.
8. Well this is certainly to help Malaysians cope better with greater uncertainty and financial complexity, but also to ensure that individuals are aware and empowered to manage their money wisely, plan ahead and invest for their future while protecting themselves from those scammers, from the financial fraud and abuse.
9. Now in that context I also would like to acknowledge FPAM's FLY 2020 programmes, an initiative which is in line with the national strategy and aims to improve the financial wellbeing and elevate the financial literacy levels of Malaysians, so that they can handle personal finances themselves especially during this pandemic. There has been a series of webinars on the radio, through BFM, that started in March this year. Live financial clinics and free 1 to 1 online sessions were also conducted on social media platforms.
10. I would also like to thank FPAM for their continued support in the FinPlan4U platform at SC's InvestSmart Fest. This year is the 4th year albeit for the first one 'online', and stretches for one week from 19 to 25 October with more than 400 sessions opened to the public. The past few years have seen over 1,000 people benefitting from the sessions. And so, as we are taking the event online, of course financial planners across Malaysia will be able to participate in FinPlan4U.
11. So, that's what I wanted to say on education, now I just want to briefly turn to the awards and, the best in class among financial planners being recognised today as recipients of the Malaysian Financial Planner of the Year Award 2020. This is a very important recognition, precisely because of the importance of financial planners and the role they play, and so its important that we recognise those practitioners for their outstanding achievements and high professional standards. Of course, I also encourage FPAM to continue its efforts to raise professional standards in recognising these deserving individuals. So, I hope such awards continue to encourage fellow practitioners to strive for excellence towards serving the evolving needs of Malaysians.

Now, I also said I'm going to make an announcement and so here it is, in the space of retirement, the SC is pleased to announce a pilot program between Private Pension Administrator (PPA) and licensed financial planners with SmartFinance where a retirement advisory platform will be established for members of Private Retirement Schemes (PRS).

13. The aim of this initiative is to position financial planners as important pillars in guiding Malaysians towards better financial wellbeing in relation to retirement and to fulfil the growing demand for retirement advice by PRS members and Malaysians, in general. So, those are my main points on education, the awards, and my announcement.
14. That just leads me with some concluding comments. As the financial planning industry matures, various planners start to think harder about their future direction and they've acknowledged the need to source for new growth opportunities. And so that's why the SC has liberalised certain policies along with other measures to make room for the industry to grow and progress up the advisory value chain. We recently developed a Joint Action Plan with input from the Industry, to position the next wave of industry growth.
15. And on this note, I would like to commend the financial planning industry for coming together in setting up two industry working groups on enhancing the breadth and sophistication of the role of FPs as well as improving professional standards in the industry. So, we are very pleased to have a united voice, to empower members to chart their way to a better future for the benefit of themselves and also Malaysian investors.
16. Now, these uncertain times and that desire to move up the value chain, has also prompted a new look at how a range of capital market products can be employed to form a holistic portfolio to withstand good and bad times. Now, in permitting financial planners to provide more value added products and services to their clients, I am pleased to announce that the Securities Commission Malaysia would be expanding the scope of specific advice that financial planners can provide, and that scope will in future, include stocks and bonds.
17. Now, this new policy development is in line with the strategic thrusts of the Joint Action Plan. And, it is envisaged that planners can play a central role in encouraging informed participation in the stocks and bonds market. Clearly, this would of course require competencies and further details of this policy will be released in due course. Personally, I am encouraged by this growth and I would like to see continued collaboration from the industry as it is good to the industry as well as the capital market.
18. So finally, with a strong Financial Planning industry, Malaysians can rest assured that a major pillar of support for proper investment guidance is in place to achieve their financial goals. FPs can play a vital role in protecting investors against bad investment choices. Particularly in the current challenging economic climate, with low interest rates, pushing investors to find reasonable returns elsewhere.
19. Now, we can't rest on our laurels of course, and so further collaborations with the industry itself is a vital ingredient in realising the success of the industry.
20. Today's event is an excellent platform for you to share your experience, good practice and to exchange knowledge. I hope, those tuning in online as well as those attending here in person will find the discussions fruitful and engaging so that we can all chart our way for a better financial planning industry.
21. On that note, I wish you all a productive symposium today. Thank you.
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