Financial Planning / Wealth Management

Adding a personal touch

by Grace Chan

Ken Lau
senior relationship manager
Citigold Private Client
Citibank (Hong Kong) Limited
Photo: Lewis Wong
When it comes to serving high net worth customers, Ken Lau, senior relationship manager, Citigold Private Client, Citibank (Hong Kong) Limited, believes in three key personal qualities—responsibility, sincerity and trustworthiness.

After joining Citibank as a personal banker in 2003, Mr Lau became a Citigold relationship manager the following year. He has been with the Citigold Private Client division from 2007 onwards. Over the past seven years, Mr Lau has gained a wealth of skills and knowledge in taking care of both general banking customers and affluent individuals.

According to Mr Lau, client servicing, regardless of the customer's background and profile, is all about the personal touch. "Consider yourself a friend of your customers and seek to understand them with a sincere attitude," he notes.

Mr Lau talks to potential or first-time customers about a range of matters and their personal lives, including their family, children and even birthdays and wedding anniversaries, even though such topics may seem irrelevant to the wealth management process.

"My customers consider me as their friend. Some have attended my wedding ceremony while one of them even presented me a hand-made teddy bear as a wedding gift."

Mutual understanding

Experience sharing is essential to nurturing a trusting client relationship, Mr Lau emphasises. "While seeking to understand your customers, do your best to allow your customers to understand you too," he says.

There is more to the wealth management process though, and a high level of professional competence and trustworthiness always come first. "We should take initiative to keep abreast of the latest market trends and review our client's portfolio in a responsible manner," Mr Lau adds. "As most affluent clients are businesspersons managing a hectic schedule, we need to exceed their expectations with our service efficiency and accuracy."

All Citigold Private Client senior relationship managers are backed by a team of finance and research specialists, as well as a comprehensive set of investment tools. "Part of our role is to educate customers on investment risks," he remarks.

His extensive client exposure and experience have earned him one of the three final places in the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards group C—a new addition this year to reflect the growth trend of high net worth banking customers.

"Participating in the HKIB competition has given me a great opportunity to review all the practices and skills necessary to efficiently steer the wealth management process," Mr Lau says. "Time management is one of the learning outcomes, as I was required to present to the judging panel what I have gained from the past seven years in 15 minutes."

To enhance technical competence and fulfil stricter industry requirements, he is contemplating pursuing further professional qualifications like the Certified Financial Management PlannerTM (CFMPTM) designation conferred by the HKIB. "Industry accreditations confirm our level of professionalism and drive us to go the extra mile not only for ourselves but also for the entire profession," he says.

For him, job satisfaction comes from helping customers to realise their financial goals. "I used to aspire to becoming a social worker, but now I can help my clients and their family. This is equally rewarding," he concludes.

Taken from Career Times 22 October 2010, A9
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