Financial Planning / Wealth Management

Banking service sees no boundaries

by Isabella Lee

Amy Choi, director of sales and distribution
Citibank Global Consumer Group, Hong Kong
Photo: Keith Cheung

Multinational financial services provider pulls out all the stops to put clients first

Hong Kong not only welcomes thousands of visitors every month, but is also well geared to supporting business activities through its infrastructure.

"Operating in a mature and free international financial hub, which is uniquely positioned as a gateway to the global financial services market, we offer a range of financial products to suit different customer demands," says Amy Choi, director of sales and distribution, Citibank Global Consumer Group, Hong Kong.

Citibank's products include its tailor-made Citigold Global Banking package, which offers borderless privileged banking services and preferential treatment for its customers worldwide. Via Citigold Global Banking, customers enjoy special banking services at 550 Citigold centres in 36 countries and territories around the world.

A practical advantage for business travellers is complimentary access to Citigold centres worldwide, providing full office facilities such as local telephone and fax services, as well as meeting rooms.

Citigold clients are also provided with protection in case of unexpected problems while travelling. Travellers who lose a wallet, for example, can access up to US$10,000 of emergency cash through a streamlined process at local Citigold centres.

"Good services and products alone are not enough," Ms Choi points out. "What really makes Hong Kong stand out is the hard-working, diligent and flexible workforce."

Service excellence

While it is relatively straightforward to follow instructions and guidelines taught in training sessions or detailed in service manuals, it is the effort put in by employees that leads to excellent service.

"It is essential for service providers to have the right professional attitude to gain clients' trust," says Ms Choi. "With so many similar products available in a highly competitive market, success depends on employees who are willing to walk the extra mile."

The company rewards outstanding performance by highlighting any praise received from customers with regard to individual employees at regular staff meetings.

Recently, for example, a relationship manager was acknowledged for going to great lengths to assist a client on a stopover at the Hong Kong airport. The client, on his way from Taiwan to the mainland, needed to sign an important document allowing an urgent fund transfer and ordinarily would have had to travel to a Citibank centre in the city to achieve this. However, the relationship manager went out of her way to help him by personally taking the document to the customer at the airport, saving him the trouble of travelling into town.

"The relationship manager went beyond the call of duty, but she acted according to the bank's 'client first' philosophy," Ms Choi commends. "Our aim is to always make our customers' interests our first priority."

Top accolade

Relationship managers at Citibank are encouraged to participate in the HKIB Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards, a competition Ms Choi describes as a meaningful event that further recognises the wealth management field and its people.

Last year, Heather Wong, Citigold relationship manager, won the Grand Award in the category for financial planners with less than three years' experience. For her, the competition offered an opportunity to show her passion for her chosen career.

"There is no set formula in financial planning," says Ms Wong. "Our priority is to manage customers' assets and help them realise their goals at different stages in their lives."

She says she was drawn by the hypothetical case study component in the final round of the competition, where she presented her proposal to the panel judges within a restricted time frame with limited resources.

"The competition required us to explain to 'customers' why and how we shaped their portfolios, just as we would do in real life," she explains. "It was important to use our presentation techniques to illustrate our plan step by step, and particularly vital to capture the judges' attention right from the start and provide a good summary at the end."


Taken from Career Times 13 June 2008, p. A5
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