Technical skills and knowledge alone hardly sustain career success in financial planning nowadays as the wider industry adopts optimal ethical and customer servicing standards. Winners of this year's Hong Kong Institute of Bankers' Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards demonstrate the premise of this paradigm.
Recipient of this year's Grand Award (group A), Kyral Wong, premier relationship manager, HSBC, deservingly took home more than just an accolade. "Aside from recognition, I also won confidence and friendship," Ms Wong says.
The richness and intensity of the experience gave Ms Wong an adrenaline rush but she is quick to attribute her achievements, both in the competition and in her career, to the bank, her colleagues, as well as her customers.
"I learn something new every day from the people I work with including naturally my customers," she says, "Regular interaction with them allows me to gain a wealth of insights on their changing financial situations and aspirations, as well as risk tolerance and appetite, helping me to paint a comprehensive picture of their wealth management goals and needs."
She notes specifically that each of the bank's participants in the competition was guided by a designated support team since the very beginning. "The trainers and coaches worked closely with us. They also arranged a series of intensive training to harness our knowledge and hone our presentation skills," she remarks.
In a bid to sustain the momentum and boost the participants' confidence, HSBC offered them words of encouragement and recognition through various channels including internal recognition events, staff forum and the bank's intranet.
Andy Hon, head of retail distribution, personal financial services, HSBC Hong Kong, stresses that support from line managers and colleagues was equally vital. "Our participants might need some time off work to prepare for the hypothetical financial planning proposal and the oral presentation," he explains. "With support from members of their teams, they could devote sufficient time and effort to the competition."
Ms Wong confirms her gratitude: "Support from my line managers and team mates gave me the extra oomph."
Business sustainability lies within people and one of the key success factors of HSBC is its commitment in staff development. "HSBC pays full attention on fostering staff growth and allocates considerable resources with the strong commitment from top management to develop our staff," Mr Hon says. "Aside from a range of skills and knowledge training, we nominate our elites for competitions and awards, and support our staff in acquiring professional qualifications that will contribute to their careers."
He emphasises that the HKIB competition has grown in significance. "It helps to raise public awareness of the industry, raise the bar for the industry and promote ethical practice," he expands. "To sustain Hong Kong's position as a leading international financial centre, the industry needs a sufficient supply of financial talent. The competition is an excellent opportunity to identify and further develop our pool of talent."
Coming out tops
Strong in customer service and communication skills, Ms Wong, who possess about two years' work experience in the highly charged financial planning industry, points out that the Grand Award may have some positive impacts on her career but cautions that true professionals never rest on their laurels. "The credibility of the financial planning profession has been rising rapidly," she says. "We must work towards achieving higher goals and propel the industry forward."
Winning out the competition has been an unforgettable experience - an early milestone in her career. "The awards send out a positive message to everyone: the industry has great potential and we can achieve high regardless of ranks and positions," she says. Her quick rise through the ranks demonstrates this. "I've had three promotions over the past two years. Passion, determination and good time management will win the day."
Mr Hon agrees. He adds, "First-class banking service is our commitment and we look for talent with the necessary attributes, determination and passion in the banking and finance industry to extend our service to our customers."
A far-sighted leader in the banking sector, HSBC is well geared for the volatile climate in the global financial landscape, and its strengths will become even more apparent over the eagerly anticipated market rebound.
"The market sentiment is improving," he notes. "We anticipate greater demand for wealth management products." In response to this, the bank has plans to recruit more than 200 junior frontline staff for positions including general banking officers, financial services officers and business development officers. "More than 700 aspiring individuals attended our recruitment days for premier relationship manager and wealth management manager earlier in August," Mr Hon recalls. "That was an encouraging sign."