Since March last year, CITIC Ka Wah Bank has been offering premium wealth management services for what is known as the mass affluent sector of the market. In doing so, it has made a special effort to target the financial needs of entrepreneurs and professionals.
With its CITICfirst services, CITIC Ka Wah is aiming to provide a comprehensive range of products for more sophisticated investors looking to diversify their assets and explore different investment opportunities.
Phoebe Wong, senior vice president and head of the bank's wealth management and strategic planning department, says the main objective is to help customers manage their finances in an effective way and guide them in making choices which best fit their individual goals. "We see investment products as tools which are a means to an end," Ms Wong explains. "What is crucial is to provide the best investment solutions for each customer, which is how we differentiate ourselves from other banks."
The plan for 2007 is to increase the number of CITICfirst centres from five to 12 to complement the 31 branches currently operating in Hong Kong. Special attention is paid to choosing the right locations for new centres in order to target areas which present the best opportunities for business growth. At the same time, the bank will be looking to further enhancing the overall quality of services on offer.
"We provide the right kind of career development ... for keeping good staff"
One recent example of such initiatives has been the use of the latest technology to introduce a "Wealth Tracker" platform, which allows customers to monitor the performance of their total investment portfolio on a month-by-month basis. The bank has also formed a partnership with Standard & Poor's, a renowned provider of research data, to source independent financial information and analysis. This is a major advantage when it comes to offering customers up-to-date market information and investment opportunities.
"We believe customer engagement is very important, so we are very careful about choosing the right people to be our relationship managers," says Ms Wong. "They must have five to seven years of banking experience, as well as the required professional qualifications. This is one of the ways to prove their professionalism in the banking industry."
She adds that, within Hong Kong's wealth management sector, there is strong competition for the best talent, meaning that staff retention has become an important issue. "We therefore provide the right kind of career development because we think this is a key measure for keeping good staff," she says.
To maintain the highest quality standards, each relationship manager is expected to take care of no more than 250 customers. This ratio is low compared with other banks and makes it easier for dedicated managers to remain focused and be completely up-to-date with the investment needs and strategies of each of their customers. "We want relationship managers to make full use of the customer investment performance tools to review customers' investment portfolios on a regular basis and ensure they keep them informed of the very latest market developments," Ms Wong explains.
She points out that, despite the constant level of competition, the wealth management sector still has tremendous potential. Investors are becoming more sophisticated and are looking for expert financial solutions from experienced banking professionals. "It is a progressive market and there is a lot of room to further develop the segment in Hong Kong," Ms Wong says.
To enjoy the benefits of CITICfirst, customers must have a total balance of at least HK$1 million with the bank, including deposits and investment products. Additional services are available for clients with liquid net assets of HK$3 million or more.
"Apart from introducing our extensive financial services, relationship managers take a very proactive approach in reviewing customers' investment portfolio performance," Ms Wong says. "This enables them to make adjustments that are in tune with the market. We also assess and understand our customers' appetite for risk and their ambitions for personal growth."
- New service centres providing wide range of products for sophisticated investors
- Plans for expansion in 2007 as wealth management sector continues to grow
- Focus on career development helps to recruit and retain the best talent
- Use of technology to give customers full view of their investment performance regularly