|Benny Wang (right), senior manager;|
Crystal Wong, manager, business development;
Patrick Woo (left), assistant portfolio manager,
Phillip Securities (HK) Ltd
Photo: Nolly Leung
All-round financial services firm moves strategically to grow in spite of challenges
With the global economic environment remaining volatile, finance houses are compelled to diversify in order to capitalise on business opportunities. To achieve this, they must thoroughly analyse market trends and overhaul their development strategies to serve clients' long-term interests.
With markets worldwide affected by the Eurozone crisis and other uncertainties, investors remain cautious, says Benny Wang, senior manager, Phillip Securities (HK) Ltd. Because of reduced turnover of shares in the Hong Kong stock market, there is intense competition for commissions. "Many smaller companies are no longer in business, while the main players have had to reshape their business strategies," he adds.
This has led to a shift in focus from investing in the Hong Kong stock market to a wider range of international products, such as derivatives, securities, commodities, futures, trust funds, options, foreign currencies and globally listed stocks.
Overseas markets are leaning prominently towards all-round asset management that is tailor-made for clients, many of whom are sophisticated investors with a broad outlook on financial management.
Since the local asset-management sector is comparatively less developed than those of some international markets, there is ample room for expansion, notes Crystal Wong, manager, business development, Phillips Securities. "We will inevitably have some challenges in promoting the concept to a wider client base, but we must keep up with the times to stay on top of the game," she says.
The role of a portfolio manager at Phillip Securities is to provide comprehensive, long-term and personalised asset management for clients. A combination of diverse investment products serves clients' interests best, remarks Patrick Woo, assistant portfolio manager, Phillip Securities. "We invest our clients' capital in different sectors and areas of local and global financial markets. This helps to maximise their potential returns and to minimise risk throughout market fluctuations," he adds.
The company provides ongoing support and, in addition to producing daily updates and other market news, the Hong Kong-based research team collaborates with colleagues at the Shanghai office to do in-depth research into the mainland China market. Mr Woo and his colleagues regularly visit corporations across the border to gain a better understanding of companies that they may potentially include in their clients' investment portfolios.
"This kind of information is extremely important, since our role is to protect and grow our clients' capital. Our company's research support allows us to focus on achieving this goal," he says.
Training is key to portfolio managers' long-term career development. The firm offers daily briefings, weekly and monthly meetings and a range of training seminars to hone their knowledge and skills. Most of these learning initiatives are headed by the company's highly experienced founder and senior management, leveraging their outstanding business networks and wealth-management expertise.
As part of its growth strategy, Phillip Securities is committed to recruiting top candidates with excellent client networks and communication skills. Internal promotions are at the top of the agenda. "We are dedicated to nurturing and promoting candidates with solid knowledge and the contacts, ambition and flair to succeed as portfolio managers," says Mr Woo.
Career prospects for portfolio managers remain good, since the middle-aged investor market segment is expected to bloom. With the median age of Hong Kong's population at 41 years, it is anticipated that many clients in this age group will have substantial resources to invest in pursuit of major financial and personal goals, as well as retirement planning.
"Investors in this segment are also more interested in balanced investment plans than in speculative investments," Mr Wang points out. "Our company is bolstering strategic planning and human resources to take advantage of the opportunities."
Portfolio managers must be able to think analytically, because they need to devise well-balanced investment portfolios, based on market knowledge and foresight rather than on short-term fluctuations and opportunities.
Good communication skills are essential, since portfolio managers must listen to clients and understand their priorities and investment concerns to draw up the right asset-management plans for them. Their ability to provide clear, concise explanations of financial issues and developments is also central to winning customers' trust.
One of the rewards of Mr Woo's job is the job satisfaction he enjoys from developing long-term relationships with clients and helping them accomplish their goals. "My mission is to help people reach the investment objectives they set to complement the different stages of their lives. Their recognition and appreciation make my work worthwhile. I'm proud of the close relationships I have with my clients," he concludes.
Room for growth
Intense competition in Hong Kong's finance sector
Focus shift from the stock market to a wider range of international products
Ongoing training key to the long-term career development of portfolio managers
Asset managers must understand clients' priorities to draw up appropriate plans
Taken from Career Times 18 May 2012, A4