Financial Planning / Wealth Management

A matter of trust

by Nicolette Wong

Alfred Sit
wealth management manager
Photo: Lewis Wong
Since financial planning is closely linked to a person's individual aspirations and long-term goals, it is important for wealth managers to establish a relationship of trust with their clients. To achieve this, strong industry knowledge, a sincere attitude and company support are crucial.

Alfred Sit, wealth management manager, HSBC, believes that the first requirement to gain a customer's confidence is professional acumen. He points out that since market information emerge on an ongoing basis, it is vital for practitioners in the field to stay abreast of the latest products, investment trends and developments, as well as current affairs.

Another key aspect of the planning process is developing an understanding of individual clients' needs and goals. The best way to gather the necessary information on their backgrounds, lifestyles, financial status and capital distribution is through effective questioning, stresses Mr Sit.

"This kind of data must be obtained early on, so that planners can evaluate if some of their current investments need restructuring and whether any new options or products can be recommended," he says.

After an initial risk-tolerance assessment, Mr Sit explains the suggested solutions and their fundamental features to the client in an accessible manner, also discussing any concerns that may arise.

Back-office support is a significant part of the proceedings and Mr Sit receives daily updates and quarterly reports on the state of the global financial markets from the HSBC research team. Keeping up to date is paramount, since planners must have the foresight to anticipate upcoming market changes and directions.

Positive impression

A genuine interest in the clients and their prerequisites forms another integral part of the interactive process of relationship building, says Mr Sit. Punctuality is essential to create a good impression, while accurately recalling the details of previous conversations also helps to create a positive perception in the client's mind. "The planner must regard the client's wealth management portfolio—and regular reviews—as top priorities," he emphasises.

Being attentive is central to building trust at every stage of the process, he adds. "We frequently discover unexplored client needs just by listening carefully. Sometimes the essential information we need can be quite personal and, if we have the client's confidence, we are able to draw up a suitable plan."

Mr Sit's participation in the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers' Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards has provided him with new insights and perspectives on various issues related to the financial planning industry.

One of the three group A finalists in line for a grand award, Mr Sit notes that he has also had a chance to refine his presentation and communication skills. "I welcomed the opportunity to engage in discussions with my professional counterparts from other banking institutions," he says.

The annual event serves as an ideal platform for participants to extend their technical skills via meticulous research into different areas of the industry. Mr Sit's case study for the competition involved taxation in mainland China and estate planning in Hong Kong, which were new professional areas for him to explore.

His newly gained knowledge and the ongoing endorsement from his employer will certainly stand him in good stead in the future. "Members of the bank's training team have supported me throughout the competition and given me excellent advice. My manager has also encouraged my participation, giving me ample time and room to do my research," Mr Sit reveals.

Taken from Career Times 22 October 2010, A5
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