Money Moves

A wealth of advice

by Nicolette Wong

Carmen Lam
chief executive officer
PrinCorp Wealth Advisors (Asia) Limited
Photo: Dickie Tam

Investor education instrumental in the long term

Considering the myriad of wealth management products and services available on the market, most people can reap the rewards from expert advice from a qualified and knowledgeable financial advisor.

Realising the growing needs for such services, global financial services firm Principal Financial Group recently established a new subsidiary, PrinCorp Wealth Advisors (Asia) Limited, as part of its strategy to expand and diversify its distribution networks.

"The objective of our endeavour is to boost Hong Kong people's understanding of the importance of wealth management," says Carmen Lam, chief executive officer, PrinCorp Wealth Advisors (Asia) Limited.

Ms Lam adds that quite a number of potential investors in the city still have limited awareness of the benefits of long-term financial protection. "People tend to focus on immediate returns on their investments, or make speculative decisions based on others' opinions," she notes. "Some other may also consider wealth management to be beyond their reach because they fall into certain social groups. We want to help people to realise the importance of financial planning and make it clear that we provide accessible, comprehensive and tailor-made services to all kinds of working professionals, regardless of their financial standing."

More solutions

Investment today involves diversification as a key to long-term wealth protection. PrinCorp's range of services therefore includes retirement products and services designed to give clients a new perspective on retirement planning. "With the growing number of available options, investors need clearer direction to structure their MPF portfolios," Ms Lam points out. "The fact that MPF products will in the long run gravitate towards employees' preferences and choices calls for wider public education."

PrinCorp also intends to formulate a range of new solutions, including renminbi products, to offer potential investors a wider selection. Other solutions offered by the firm down the road comprise basic protection products such as insurance policies, and wealth management tools like funds and stocks referral.

In order to give customers flexibility and choice, the company is set to identify and develop new investment services, and to forge partnership with more product providers to formulate new products that will expand its client base. The focus will be on drawing up well-structured, balanced portfolios for individuals, based on thorough analysis and product comparisons, Mr Lam notes.

"Every customer has unique financial aspirations and personal needs. Some may be trying to achieve a better balance between their income and expenditure, while others are looking at investment products with different maturation dates or risk levels. Our role is to carry out careful planning to help our clients make informed decisions," she says, adding that advisors therefore provide not only market news to customers, but also crucial financial information.

"Since portfolios must be restructured and rebalanced on an ongoing basis, our advisors are actively involved in monitoring their clients' investments," she remarks. "We believe that everyone can improve their financial situation and lead a better life if they invest early and wisely."

To support business expansion, PrinCorp plans to conduct a large-scale customer survey to assess clients' need for—and acceptance of—wealth advisory services. Aside from this, the establishment will also launch various convenient online platforms to enable customers to examine their portfolios with ease. Its website also contain background information and professional qualifications of all its wealth managers.

Competitive edge

Finding and hiring suitable candidates remain a challenge for the high-speed financial planning industry, but since PrinCorp regards professional ethics as a priority, it takes a meticulous approach when selecting new staff to ensure that PrinCorp's values are safeguarded and its service standards and integrity shared and acknowledged by the workforce, Ms Lam stresses.

A good understanding of the industry and experience in the field are among the qualities that the company looks for in new recruits, while a passion for financial planning and willingness to learn are prerequisites.

Recruitment will take place via a number of channels. PrinCorp employs its broad network both within and outside the industry to identify prospective employees. Looking beyond Hong Kong's existing pool of independent financial advisors, the company recently held a recruitment talk and invited participants from different backgrounds.

"Ideally, our target candidates would have worked in the financial industry, but they might not specifically have frontline or wealth management experience," points out Ms Lam. "We pull out all stops to find the right candidates for the right jobs and then invest considerably in building an outstanding, professional team."

She believes that Hong Kong's wealth advisory market, which is relatively young compared to those in the US and Singapore, is poised to gain momentum and that innovation and creativity in product development are vital to the industry's public profile.

Now and tomorrow

  • General public lacks awareness of long-term financial planning
  • Investment diversification a key to wealth protection
  • Growing product portfolio gives customers flexibility and choice
  • Firm to look beyond the local talent pool to fill HR gaps

Taken from Career Times 7 January 2011, A6

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