“We expect these numbers to rise further following the recent approval of three new financial planning companies,” he said in a keynote speech at the Annual Financial Planning Signature Conference in Malaysia on Tuesday.
Without disclosing actual figures, Abidin said that the increase in numbers was a result of the regulator’s three-year joint action plan. The plan, launched in 2015, helped streamline the regulatory requirements for financial planning firms that distribute mutual funds and run private retirement schemes.
There are around 35 firms engaged in financial planning activities, including wealth management, asset management and advisory firms, according to records from the SC.
In terms of licensed individuals, there are around 700 professionals licensed to engage in financial planning.
Abidin said that the regulator aims to add another 500 professionals to the financial planning profession over the next three years through internship programmes and by coaching select financial planners organised by the Financial Planning Association of Malaysia and the Malaysian Financial Planning Council.
“We have always considered the financial planning industry to be an important bridge between products and investors.”
With the financial planning industry growing in Malaysia, Abidin noted that professionals must not be complacent in upholding professionalism and good conduct.
“Financial planners, whether fee-based, commission-based, AUM-based or a mixture of these, must always put the interest of the clients first,” he said.
Abidin also highlighted other initiatives by the regulator to further improve Malaysia’s overall asset management industry.
For example, he said one of its initiatives this year is the implementation of measures recommended by an SC-led task force to spur ETF market growth.
There have also been efforts to deepen existing market segments, with particular focus on improving traction of investment products such as private retirement schemes, venture capital, private equity and retail bonds.
“To this end, the SC will continue with the implementation of recommendations developed by relevant taskforces as well as concurrent initiatives,” he said.
The SC is also planning to launch a framework for sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) funds by the end of this year.