Customers demand three things from their financial planners: first-class service, a profound knowledge of the industry and the necessary skills to help them manage their wealth and meet their needs throughout different life stages.
"Wealth management is a sophisticated process and we appreciate that every bit of advice from our professionals will influence our customers' financial planning decisions," says Andy Hon, head of retail distribution, personal financial services, HSBC Hong Kong. "It is therefore essential that our employees are familiar with the full range of financial products and services available, and that they're up to speed with the latest trends and changes in the global marketplace."
While technical knowledge and skills are important qualities for people working in the industry, these alone do not ensure the delivery of outstanding service.
"Professional attitudes make all the difference. When we place staff in wealth management roles, we look for sincerity and a passion for serving customers from the heart," Mr Hon stresses. "Our employees also realise that these are the very attributes that will drive successful long-term careers."
With a strong belief in the importance of staff development, HSBC dedicates a wealth of resources to employees' professional growth. These include a comprehensive range of learning programmes, from product knowledge and sales skills courses to leadership and management training, aiming to improve staff's professional capabilities and to facilitate their personal development.
To stretch staff's potential to the maximum, a robust personal development infrastructure is incorporated to build knowledge, skills and competence. "We're keen to offer our staff progression opportunities, and internal promotion is always a priority," Mr Hon notes.
In a bid to provide staff with the most agreeable working environment while at the same time offering customers the highest level of service, HSBC has in recently years focused on upgrading its branch network. More than 10 projects, including renovation work and the opening of new branches, have been completed.
"Since customers these days expect a multi-channel approach to meeting their various financial needs, we have made a substantial investment in enhancing our various delivery channels," Mr Hon points out. HSBC also offers specially tailored products and services to match the needs of its different customer segments.
"We take care of our customers as individuals. They are not just 'accounts' to us," he emphasises. This is illustrated by the bank's recent extension of the priority service for senior citizens, an initiative to enhance services to the broader community. Some 11 additional HSBC branches, complementing the existing 10, are now providing such services in areas with high concentrations of elderly people.
In addition, the bank will also continue to improve its ATM network, as well as its internet and telephone banking services, catering to varying banking and investment needs.
In an effort to support industry development while helping employees boost their professional confidence, HSBC encourages high-performing staff to participate in competitions such as the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards.
Jonath Yeung, an HSBC premier relationship manager who won the Grand Award (group A) in last year's competition, says, "Winning the award was fantastic encouragement and very motivational. I felt honoured that the judges recognised my financial planning skills. This increased my confidence in my work with customers and renewed my enthusiasm for a life-long career in the field."
Mr Yeung notes that in addition to a growth in business dealings with existing customers, his customer portfolio also expanded as a result of increased customer referrals.
"Success in the competition has played a major part in reinforcing our professional image and this has been particularly important in the highly volatile current market," he says. "This is a vote of confidence, not only in me as a professional, but also in HSBC as a trusted wealth management platform."
Mr Yeung has had a wealth of personal growth opportunities following the competition. "Experience sharing with colleagues and customers has also been a key driver for personal growth," he remarks.
He believes a keen desire to learn and the ability to meet challenges are two important prerequisites for excelling in the financial planning sector. "These are the qualities that will enable you to outrun the competition and continue to grow," he concludes.