General
Relevant Practitioners
CPWP Certification
CPWP Certification Renewal and On-going Professional Training (OPT)
Training Programmes and Examinations
Administration of the ECF
One-off Exemption (Grandfathering)

General

1. What is the Enhanced Competency Framework?

The Enhanced Competency Framework (ECF) sets out an enhanced level of core competence and on-going professional development of private wealth management (PWM) practitioners who undertake customer-facing roles. It is a non-statutory framework separate from the existing licensing or registration regime for the securities industry.

The ECF is PWM-oriented, covering knowledge of Asia Pacific markets and practical application of PWM-related knowledge, with strong emphasis on ethics and compliance. 

2. Is it mandatory for private wealth management practitioners to obtain ECF certification?

The ECF is a non-statutory framework separate from the existing licensing or registration regime for the securities industry. It is to be adopted voluntarily by PWM practitioners. For the avoidance of doubt, individuals are still required to meet the licensing or registration requirements under the Securities and Futures Ordinance.

3. Which organization is considered a PWM institution? Does PWMA have a list of such institutions?

A private bank, or an authorized institution/SFC-licensed corporation with a dedicated unit(s) that maintains a personalized relationship with private banking customers*, and provides personalized banking services, dealing, advisory and/or portfolio management services to these customers is considered a PWM institution for the purpose of ECF.

PWM institutions include, but are not limited to, member institutions of PWMA.

Nonetheless, for PWM client-facing work experience at a non-PWMA member institution to be recognized for the purpose of ECF, substantiation has to be provided to demonstrate that the institution (or a unit of the institution) is or was dedicated to serve private banking customers during the period of experience.

* A “private banking customer” refers to a customer who maintains a personalized relationship with the PWM institution and receives personalized banking services, dealing, advisory or asset / portfolio management services from the PWM institution, and has:
a) at least USD3 million or its equivalent in any other currency in investable assets; or
b) at least USD1 million or its equivalent in any other currency in investable assets under the PWM institution’s management.

Investable assets comprise securities, deposits and certificates of deposits. The amount may be calculated on a relationship basis covering (i) individual accounts; (ii) joint accounts with associates; and (iii) personal investment companies wholly-owned by the individual or jointly owned with associates. Associate means the spouse or any child of that individual.

Relevant Practitioners

1. To whom is the ECF applied to?

The ECF applies to PWM industry practitioners (Relevant Practitioners) engaged by PWM institutions in customer-facing roles making personalized or customized solicitations or recommendations to customers in the provision of securities dealing and advisory service and/or portfolio management service.

For the purpose of the ECF, PWM institutions refer to the following:

  • (a) Private banks or authorized institutions with dedicated unit(s) that maintain a personalized relationship with private banking customers, and provide personalized banking services, dealing, advisory and/or portfolio management services to these customers; and
  • (b) SFC-licensed corporations with dedicated units(s) that maintain a personalized relationship with private banking customers, and provide dealing, advisory, and/or asset / portfolio management services to clients who fall under the definition of private banking customers*.

* A “private banking customer” refers to a customer who maintains a personalized relationship with the PWM institution and receives personalized banking services, dealing, advisory or asset / portfolio management services from the PWM institution, and has:
a) at least USD3 million or its equivalent in any other currency in investable assets; or
b) at least USD1 million or its equivalent in any other currency in investable assets under the PWM institution’s management.

Investable assets comprise securities, deposits and certificates of deposits. The amount may be calculated on a relationship basis covering (i) individual accounts; (ii) joint accounts with associates; and (iii) personal investment companies wholly-owned by the individual or jointly owned with associates. Associate means the spouse or any child of that individual.

2. How does one determine whether the individual is considered as a Relevant Practitioner for the purpose of ECF?

Relevant Practitioners refer to PWM industry practitioners engaged by PWM institutions who are in customer-facing roles making personalized or customized solicitations or recommendations to customers in provision of securities dealing and advisory service and/or portfolio management service.


Customer-facing functions refers to those roles such as Relationship Manager or Investment Advisor who have direct access to clients and provide customized solicitations or recommendations directly to clients in the provision of securities dealing and advisory services and/or portfolio management services.


For work experience at a non-PWMA member institution to be considered as PWM client-facing function for the purpose of ECF, substantiation has to be provided to demonstrate that the institution (or a unit of the institution) is or was dedicated to serve private banking customers during the period of experience.
PWM institutions can make reference to the “Definition of Relevant Practitioners” for examples of functional titles, and key roles and required competence in determining whether a customer-facing staff is a Relevant Practitioner for the purposes of ECF.


If the staff performs substantially all of the roles described in the Definition of Relevant Practitioners”, he or she may classified as a Relevant Practitioner.


An individual with a functional title such as Relationship Manager and Investment Advisor is likely to be classified as a Relevant Practitioner if that individual in practice performs substantially all of the prescribed roles listed in the “Definition of Relevant Practitioners”. An individual that holds other functional titles such as Dealer or Product Specialist would not typically be classified as a Relevant Practitioner if that individual does not perform substantially all of the prescribed roles including the provision of investment ideas or recommendations to customers directly.


An individual who is a PWM Assistant, including but not limited to those with a functional title such as Assistant to Relationship Manager, is not considered a Relevant Practitioner for the purpose of ECF and therefore out of scope for grandfathering or CPWP certification.

3. Will the ECF apply to individuals who work on a temporary basis in Hong Kong?

The ECF is to be adopted voluntarily by PWM industry practitioners. It will be up to the PWM institutions to decide whether it is necessary for individuals who work on a temporary basis in Hong Kong to meet the ECF standards. In general it may not be practical to require individuals to adopt the ECF standard if they work on a one-off basis for only several months in Hong Kong.

4. Are wealth advisors / trust specialists covered under the ECF?

They are considered product specialists selling trust structures / solutions to clients instead of investment products; hence, they are not covered by the ECF.

CPWP Certification

1. How does one get the CPWP certification?

The PWMA has pursuant to the ECF developed a professional qualification Certified Private Wealth Professional (CPWP).  PWMA will administer the CPWP certification for its PWM member institutions.  Relevant Practitioners may apply for the CPWP certification when they have successfully completed the examination requirements under the ECF and have the prerequisite work experience.

2. What are the criteria for applying for CPWP certification under the examination route?

There are two conditions that must be met before applying for CPWP certification:

(a)   Minimum 3 years’ experience as a Relevant Practitioner within private wealth management institution(s) out of the most recent 5 years; and

(b)   Passed all examination papers for both Module 1 and Module 2 of ECF. The result of each examination paper is valid for 5 years (counting from the date of the examination) for the purpose of applying for CPWP certification.

A relevant practitioner who has met both conditions for certification is eligible to apply for certification, but such application should be received by PWMA not later than 3 months from the end of the validity period of the examination result.

Below are some illustrations in relation to the validity period of examination results for applying CPWP certification.

Illustration A:

  • Assuming the candidate continues to work as a Relevant Practitioner (“RP”).
Example 1Example 2Example 3
Current Job as RP:
e.g. Relationship Manager (“ RM”)/
Investment Consultant (“IC”)
Current Job as RP:
e.g. RM/IC
Current Job as RP:
e.g. RM/IC
Exam date of
Module 1 Paper 1
1 Apr 20151 Sep 20221 Apr 2015
Exam date of
Module 1 Paper 2
1 Jun 20161 Jun 20161 Oct 2023
Exam date of Module 21 Sep 20181 Sep 20181 Sep 2018
Exam results are valid for the purpose of applying for CPWP certification?Yes
 
Period when both conditions for certification are met:  After receiving the result of exam taken on 1 Sep 2018, and up to 31 Mar 2020 (5 years’ validity counting from 1 Apr 2015).
 
Application for certification should be received by PWMA no later than 3 months from 31 Mar 2020.
No
 
The candidate needs to re-take and pass Module 1 Paper 2 Exam.
 
Period when both conditions for certification are met: After receiving the result of exam taken on 1 Sep 2022, and up to 31 Aug 2023 (5 years’ validity counting from 1 Sep 2018). 
 
Application for certification should be received by PWMA no later than 3 months from 31 Aug 2023.
No
 
The candidate needs to re-take and pass Module 1 Paper 1 and Module 2 Exams.
 
Period when both conditions for certification are met: After receiving the result of exam taken on 1 Oct 2023, and up to 30 Sep 2028 (5 years’ validity counting from 1 Oct 2023).
 
Application for certification should be received by PWMA no later than 3 months from 30 Sep 2028.

Illustration B:

  • Assuming the candidate is not working as a Relevant Practitioner (“RP”) when he / she starts to take the examination but later on works as a RP.
Example 1Example 2Example 3
Current Job as non-RP:
e.g. Assistant Staff
Current Job as non-RP:
e.g. Assistant Staff
Current Job as non-RP:
e.g. Assistant Staff
Exam date of
Module 1 Paper 1
1 Apr 20151 Apr 20151 Apr 2021
Exam date of
Module 1 Paper 2
1 Jun 20161 Jun 20161 Jun 2016
Exam date of Module 21 Sep 20181 Sep 20181 Sep 2018
Start date of working as a RP1 Jan 20171 Oct 20181 Nov 2020
3 years’ RP experience met31 Dec 201930 Sep 202131 Oct 2023
Exam results are valid for the purpose of applying for CPWP certification?Yes
 
Period when both conditions for certification are met:  From 31 Dec 2019, and up to 31 Mar 2020 (5 years’ validity counting from 1 Apr 2015). 
 
Application for certification should be received by PWMA no later than 3 months from 31 Mar 2020.
No
 
The candidate needs to re-take and pass Module 1 Paper 1 & Paper 2 Exams because these exams were passed more than 5 years ago when the 3 years’ RP experience is met.
 
Period when both conditions for certification are met: From 30 Sep 2021, and up to 31 Aug 2023 (5 years’ validity counting from 1 Sep 2018). 
 
Application for certification should be received by PWMA no later than 3 months from 31 Aug 2023.
No
 
The candidate needs to re-take and pass Module 1 Paper 2 Exam & Module 2 Exam, because these exams were passed more than 5 years ago when the 3 years’ RP experience is met.
 
Period when both conditions for certification are met: From 31 Oct 2023, and up to
31 Mar 2026 (5 years’ validity counting from 1 Apr 2021). 
 
Application for certification should be received by PWMA no later than 3 months from 31 Mar 2026.

3. Is the CPWP certification available to practitioners who are not employed at PWMA member institutions?

No, CPWP certification will only be administered for Relevant Practitioners of PWMA member institutions. 

4. What is the prerequisite work experience?

For those Relevant Practitioners with less than 10 years of relevant customer-facing work experience as described above, they must have at least 3 years of relevant work experience performing substantially the prescribed functions and roles of a Relevant Practitioner with PWM institutions within the last 5 years.

5. If I previously worked overseas, will these working experiences be considered relevant?

In general, relevant overseas work experience in established financial centres / wealth management centres is recognized for the purpose of CPWP certification application. These countries include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, Singapore, Taiwan, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates (Dubai), United Kingdom and United States. Work experience in other countries will be considered by the Accreditation & Exemption Committee on a case by case basis, following guidance from the PWMA Executive Committee when needed.

6. Is there any application fee?

A non-refundable HKD1,000 application fee is charged for the application of CPWP certification.

7. If a relevant practitioner only has one year of relevant experience, can he/she sit for the Module Exams?

Relevant Practitioners with less than 3 years of relevant experience can sit for the Modules 1 and 2 examinations. However, as the requirement of minimum 3 years PWM working experience is not met, he/she is yet to be eligible to apply for CPWP certification.

For the purpose of applying for CPWP certification, the result of each examination paper is valid for 5 years counting from the date of the examination.

Application for certification can be made when both conditions (related to work experience and examination pass) are met.  For details, please refer to Question 23 under “CPWP Certification” section.

8. Is an Assistant staff role considered relevant experience for the purpose of a CPWP certification application?

No, experience as a PWM Assistant, including but not limited to functional titles such as Assistant to Relationship Manager, is not considered relevant for the purpose of applying for CPWP certification.

9. Is Corporate Finance or Research considered relevant experience for the purpose of CPWP certification application?

No, experience in Corporate Finance or Research is not considered relevant for the purpose of applying for CPWP certification.

10. How will I be informed of the assessment results? Do I get a chance to appeal if the result is a rejection?

Results will be given in writing by post usually within 60 days upon receipt of the application form and the required supporting documents. More time may be required if further clarification is needed.

Applicants who wish to appeal against a result may do so by providing additional information with supporting document(s) for substantiation within 3 months from the date of notification of result. Reassessed results are final and no further appeal will be accepted. 

CPWP Certification Renewal and On-going Professional Training (OPT)

1. What are the OPT requirements?

Relevant Practitioners who have been certified as CPWP are required to complete 10 hours of PWM-related OPT every calendar year starting with the year after certification. There is an annual renewal requirement for the CPWP certification which comprises 10 hours of OPT, of which 5 hours may include continuous professional training recognized by the SFC. Out of the 10 hours of PWM-related training, a minimum of 2 hours should be on ethics and compliance.

2. What if I fail to meet the annual OPT requirements?

Failure to meet the annual OPT requirements may result in the imposition of conditions such as a penalty on your OPT shortfall, suspension of your CPWP certification until condition(s) fulfilled, or revocation for repeated failures.

3. When a qualified practitioner changes jobs and moves to a Non-PWMA institution after being certified, can the individual apply for renewal of his/her CPWP status?

PWMA allows a qualified practitioner of a non-member financial institution to apply for CPWP renewal as long as the practitioner provides substantiation information for the trainings attended with official attendance records issued by the training providers.

4. What are the types of activities that will qualify for OPT?

OPT courses need not be accredited and may be organized by relevant professional bodies, training institutes or PWM institutions. 

The means of attaining OPT shall follow the approach allowed for the continuous professional training recognized by the SFC, such as:

  • Attending classroom training
  • Attending seminars (for attending luncheon talks which normally last for 1 to 2 hours in total, 0.5 hours will be counted)
  • Conducting industry research
  • Giving lectures

Sufficient records on the training and the OPT activities undertaken should be kept by the individuals for a minimum of 3 years and be made available upon request by PWMA.

5. If I work for another company within a calendar year, what should I do with the OPT hours I have previously earned?

Relevant Practitioners may combine the OPT hours earned at different PWM institutions.

6. Is OPT hours cumulative?

No, any OPT hours accumulated in any calendar year in excess of the minimum 10 hours cannot be carried forward to the next calendar year.

7. Are there any fees for annual renewal of CPWP certification?

There is a non-refundable HKD1,000 fee for annual renewal of CPWP certification.

8. How long does it take to process the application for the CPWP Certification Renewal?

It takes approximate 60 days to process upon receipt of the application form together with its substantiation information. More time may be required if further clarification is needed.

9. Does the OPT requirement for the CPWP Certificate Renewal run on a calendar-year basis?

Yes, the OPT requirement runs on a calendar-year basis.

10. Is it mandatory to upload documents when submitting the Application for CPWP Certification Renewal?

No, it is not necessary to upload documents when submitting online application for CPWP Certification Renewal., PWMA will review the verification by the Human Resources and /or respective relevant department of the PWM institution(s).

However, PWMA may request provision of records on the training and the OPT activities undertaken.

11. If there is a change of job or industry, and/or personal information, shall I inform PWMA?

Applicant should update change of job or industry, and / or personal information by logging in to his/her CPWP User Account through the CPWP Online Platform.

12. Is there any deadline for CPWP Certification renewal?

Applicant should submit the Online Application for CPWP Certification Renewal to the PWMA within 1 month following the preceding calendar year-end.

13. What if I fail to submit my CPWP Certification renewal within the deadline?

Late submission may result in the imposition of conditions such as a penalty charge on top of the outstanding renewal fee, suspension of CPWP certification or revocation for repeated failures.

Please contact PWMA if you have any questions.

14. Does the OPT requirement need to be met on an anniversary basis?

No, the OPT requirement only needs to be met on a calendar-year basis.  For avoidance of doubt, there is no OPT requirement for the year the CPWP certification was obtained.  The OPT requirement only starts in the succeeding calendar year. 

Training Programmes and Examinations

1. What are the requirements of the ECF?

Relevant Practitioners can meet the ECF by undertaking self-study and/or taking accredited training programmes, and passing examinations. Those who have been granted grandfathering exemption is only required to meet the Module 2 requirement.

The training programmes and examinations consist of two modules:  Module 1 on technical, industry and product knowledge; and Module 2 on ethics and compliance.  Please refer to the “Detailed Syllabus” for additional information on the syllabus.

2. Where are the training programmes and examinations available?

The Hong Kong Securities and Investment Institute (HKSI) and The Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) are the providers for Module 1 and Module 2, respectively.

Relevant Practitioners may also take the programmes and examinations at their own PWM institutions if the programmes and examinations have been accredited by the PWMA.

3. Where can we find the training schedule and examination schedule for both Module 1 and Module 2?

The training schedule and examination schedule of Module 1 and 2 can be found in the following websites respectively. http://www.hksi.org/hksi/ for Module 1 and https://www.hkib.org/en/index for Module 2.

4. How much do HKSI and HKIB charge for the programmes and examinations respectively?

For details of the programmes and examinations fees charged by HKSI and HKIB, please refer to the websites of HKSI (http://www.hksi.org/hksi/) and HKIB (https://www.hkib.org/) accordingly.

5. How many times can one take the examinations?

There is no limit on the number of times one can take the examinations.

6. Could a Relevant Practitioner take the accredited examinations directly without attending the programmes?

Yes, a Relevant Practitioner may take the examinations without attending programmes. Study manuals are available for Modules 1 and 2 for self-study. Please contact the respective examination providers for further details.

7. When is the Chinese version of the ECF modules available?

From February 2018 onwards, specific session(s) of the Paper 1 and Paper 2 examinations for Module 1 are offered in both English and Chinese. Language availability of examination session(s) are detailed in the examination timetable of the HKSI Institute counter/website.  Other Chinese-language materials may be made available over time.

Administration of the ECF

1. What is the role of the Private Wealth Management Association in the ECF?

The Association takes up the administration of the ECF, including accreditation and exemption. The PWMA has, pursuant to the ECF, developed the CPWP professional qualification. The PWMA administers the CPWP certification and on-going professional training for its member institutions.

2. Will the Relevant Practitioner receive any document to certify that he/she is CPWP certified by the PWMA?

The PWMA will notify the Relevant Practitioner by email informing he/she has been awarded as CPWP upon his/her completion of all the requirements. The email to the Relevant Practitioner will also stipulate the CPWP status remains in effect upon his/her fulfilling of the annual OPT requirement.

3. If I am holding certain professional qualification (e.g. CFA, FRM, CGA, CPA, CIWM, etc.), would the professional qualification be eligible for exemption?

PWMA does not currently offer any exemption for professional qualifications.

One-off Exemption (Grandfathering)

1. What is this one-off exemption?

The ECF provides for a one-off exemption to those Relevant Practitioners who have at least 10 years of relevant work experience.  Please refer to “Guidelines for Grandfathering” for full details. The 10 years of work experience must be met on or before December 31, 2014.

Relevant Practitioners who have been granted this one-off exemption will be exempted from the Module 1 (Technical, Industry and Product Knowledge) requirements, but still need to fulfil the Module 2 (Ethics and Compliance) requirements.

2. What relevant experience would be counted in the 10 years?

Those Relevant Practitioners who have at least 10 years of relevant customer-facing work experience described below, may be eligible for grandfathering.

Recent PWM customer-facing functions
(i.e. x = at least 5 years)
ANDOther customer-facing functions in the financial services industry
(i.e. y = (10 years minus x), and multiplied by 2
[if x is not greater than 10 years])
5 years10 years
6 years8 years
7 years6 years
8 years4 years
9 years2 years
>= 10 years0 year

The counting of years of relevant experience is calculated up to the nearest month, with days less than one month rounded up to the nearest month and cut-off as at December 2014.

For example, an applicant employed in a PWM institution with customer-facing functions from 20 January 2006 to 2 October 2013, would have 7 years and 10 months relevant working experience and would need to have an additional 4 years and 4 months relevant working experience in other customer-facing functions in the financial services industry in order to meet the 10 years relevant working experience requirement.

3. What is the coverage of other customer-facing functions in the financial service industry?

Customer-facing functions refers to those roles such as Relationship Manager or Investment Advisor  which make customized solicitations or recommendations to clients in the provision of securities dealing and advisory services and/or portfolio management services. Please refer to the definition of Relevant Practitioners for the detail of the key roles.

Financial services industry refers to investment banking, corporate banking, retail banking, asset management companies, brokerage firms, hedge funds, private equity funds etc.

Credit card companies, credit unions, insurance companies, consumer finance companies, and firms providing audit, consulting, financial advisory, tax or related services to financial institutions will not be considered as within the financial services industry for the purpose of grandfathering applications.

4. Is a Corporate Finance or Research function considered a PWM customer-facing function for the purpose of ECF?

No, corporate finance or research are not considered PWM customer-facing functions for the purpose of ECF.

5. How does the Relevant Practitioner know if he / she is eligible for exemption?

The application for Grandfathering requires Human Resources or other relevant departments of the concerned PWM institution(s) to endorse an application's employment history based upon respective verification and / or self-declaration. The endorsement by your current employer indicates that the Relevant Practitioner has met the eligibility criteria for relevant experience before the application is passed to PWMA for processing.

6. How does one complete the Module 2 requirement?

Upon confirmation letter issued from the PWMA that a one-off exemption has been granted, the Relevant Practitioner may either complete the accredited training programme from Module 2 or pass the accredited examination for Module 2 within 12 months from the confirmation letter issuance date.  The provider for the programme and examination for Module 2 will be The Hong Kong Institute of Bankers.

Please go to the HKIB website (https://www.hkib.org/en/index ) for details of the training and examination schedule.

7. How will I be informed of the assessment results? Do I get a chance to appeal if the result is a rejection?

Results will be given in writing usually within 60 days upon receipt of an application form and the required supporting documents. More time may be required if further clarification is needed.

Applicants who wish to appeal against a result may do so by providing additional information with supporting document(s) for substantiation within 3 months from the date of notification of result.

Reassessed results are final and no further appeal will be accepted.

8. Is leave counted for grandfathering if the employee continues to work in the institution?

The ECF provides for a one-off exemption to those Relevant Practitioners who have at least 10 years of relevant experience. The 10 years of relevant experience must be met on or before December 31, 2014.  Leave of any type is counted for grandfathering while the employee remains working in the institution.

9. If an applicant has 10 years relevant experience but had left the industry, is he/she eligible for grandfathering?

Currently, the grandfathering is only applicable for Relevant Practitioners who are currently employed at a PWMA member institution.

10. Is there any application fee?

There is a non-refundable HKD1,000 application fee for application of grandfathering and CPWP certification.

11. Is there a cut-off date for applying for the grandfathering eligibility?

The 10 years of relevant experience must be met on or before December 31, 2014.

For those Relevant Practitioners who are currently employed by PWMA member institutions, the deadline to apply for the grandfathering exemption will be on or before 30 January 2015. They need to have the Module 2 completed, either by passing the examination or taking the course, on or before 30 June 2016.

Those Relevant Practitioners who are currently employed by Non-PWMA member institutions may apply for grandfathering within 3 months of becoming Relevant Practitioners of PWMA member institutions provided that the eligibility for grandfathering has been met. They need to complete Module 2, either by passing the examination or taking the course, within 12 months after a one-off exemption has been granted.

12. Would overseas work experience be recognized for grandfathering application?

In general, relevant overseas work experience in established financial centres / wealth management centres is recognized for the purpose of grandfathering application. These countries include France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates (Dubai), United Kingdom and United States. Work experience in other countries will be considered on a case-by-case basic by the Accreditation & Exemption Committee, following guidance from the PWMA Executive Committee when needed.

Others