THE Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) will be expanding the scope of specific advice by financial planners (FPs) to include stocks and bonds, said chairman Datuk Syed Zaid Albar.

He said the new policy development is in line with the strategic thrusts of the SC’s recently established Joint Action Plan.

“It is envisaged that (financial) 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,” he said.

Syed Zaid said this in his keynote address at the Annual Signature Financial Planning Symposium, organised by the Financial Planning Association of Malaysia today.

“With a strong financial planning industry, Malaysians can rest assured that a major pillar of support for proper investment guidance is in place.

“FPs can play a vital role in protecting investors against bad investment choices,” he said.

He also announced a pilot programme between the Private Pension Administrator Malaysia and licensed financial planners with SmartFinance, where a retirement advisory platform will be established for members of Private Retirement Schemes (PRS).

Syed Zaid said the initiative aims to position FPs as important pillars in guiding Malaysians towards better financial well-being and to fulfil the growing demand for retirement advice.

“As the financial planning industry matures, various planners have started to think harder about their future direction and they have 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 move up the advisory value chain,” he said.

Syed Zaid also commended the financial planning industry for coming together in setting up two industry working groups in enhancing the breadth and sophistication of the role of FPs, as well as, improving professional standards.

“Now, these uncertain times and the desire to move up the value chain have 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,” he said.

On another note, he said a worrying trend has emerged, as the number of scams has increased, particularly in these challenging times.

He said many people have fallen victim to these scams due to having little exposure or understanding of useful financial concepts and 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.

“The Financial Education Network – an inter-agency grouping co-chaired by the SC and Bank Negara Malaysia – is committed to working collaboratively with organisers and industry associations to deliver the National Strategy for Financial Literacy.

“This is to help Malaysians cope with greater uncertainty and financial complexity, and also to ensure that individuals are aware and empowered to manage their money wisely, to plan ahead and invest for their future while protecting themselves from scammers, financial fraud and abuse,” he added.