It comes as no big surprise that China is already becoming a dominant force in world financial circles. As a result, I scan the newspaper China Daily (in English, of course) on a regular basis to see what's happening in the business world over there. What I just read was a bit surprising and suggestive of what is yet to come.Apparently, a 31-year old chap named Liang Hui is taking the first ever associate financial planner (AFP) examination in Beijing, along with some 500 others, and if he passes, he will become the first insurance practitioner in the Chinese mainland (he is presently the marketing manager at Shanghai-based Aegon-CNOOC Life Insurance company, to receive this AFP designation which is being awarded by the Financial Planning Standards Council of China. Translated, it means that Liang will receive a diploma for qualified financial planners in China as a prerequisite to the higher-level certified financial planner (CFP) certificate that is accepted globally.

Incidentally, the Council will be authorized to grant this CFP designation when it becomes an affiliate member of the Financial Planning Standards Board with its more than 45,000 CFPs worldwide.

Keep in mind that financial planning is still in its infancy stages in China. In that country, a financial planner can be a personal financial services manager of a bank, an investment consultant, an accountant, or an insurance broker. Cai Zhongzhi is the Council's secretary-general and he believes that China's market for financial planning is dynamic, as the country's wealth accumulates and the demand for professional financial advice increases. "We have to look into the future and get ready now," he says.

One thing is for certain: training is vital for financial planners in the country's financial institutions because of the increasing competition from global financial groups. So, companies are cranking up to obtain expertise, quality of service, and human resources management to so compete.

It is noted that for now wealth management is still rather limited because China's securities, banking, and insurance institutions have not been allowed to overstep their bounds; in other words, they have to stay out of each other's business, but Cai feels this will change as the Chinese economy starts to move globally.

In the past few years, a number of overseas programs involving financial planning, together with wealth management, have found a place in China simply because of increased demand. It is not unusual for certain planners to obtain certificates that align with these programs to bolster their own worth.

I wouldn't exactly place any bets against China. Like the thermometer gauge on the turkey, it is ready to pop.

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