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Money Moves

Capturing growth opportunities in mainland financial markets

by Ada Poon

Paul Cho, vice president
Altruist Financial Group Limited
Photo: Wallace Chan

The economy's resurgence following SARS in 2003 has increased demand in wealth management and insurance. China's opening up is now providing more opportunities in these areas to Hong Kong companies.

At the beginning of 2006 Altruist Financial Group Limited obtained the first joint-venture insurance agency license in Shenzhen and is now in the process of expanding its financial services to the mainland.

"As the mainland market has just started to open externally, strict compliance regulations are in place to ensure everyone follows the rules," says Paul Cho, vice president, Altruist. "We are bringing in the expertise and experience from Hong Kong and our own proven practices, such as those in information technology, training and management, to catalyse the development of the China operation."

Altruist has sent managers from Hong Kong to Shenzhen to begin building up structures and systems, and half of the Hong Kong sales team have successfully acquired their licenses to distribute insurance products in China. "China presents tremendous potential unlike anything we've seen before," Mr Cho says.

Altruist, established in 2001, provides one-stop insurance and financial services including life, accident and health insurance, general insurance, employee benefits schemes, fund investment, personal banking services and legal service plans, meeting the needs of over 50,000 customers.

The company currently has 122 financial consultants and this number is expected to rise by 20 per cent by the end of this year to support business growth.

Mr Cho says the company looks for people who are outgoing, persistent, honest and hard working. They should also have good presentation and communication skills and enjoy interacting with people. Owing to the nature of the job, he adds, it is also important to have a positive attitude towards work and be brave enough to face challenge.

To help the team enhance their skills, induction training and lectures are offered to new recruits. On-the-job training and a mentorship programme are provided to all financial consultants. An education subsidy is also avaliable to encourage further studies. "As services have evolved in recent years, people's knowledge of financial products has too," Mr Cho says. "Thus financial consultants must be even more professional to meet the customers' needs."

Successful financial consultants can choose between two career routes according to their interests and abilities. To stay in the frontline, they can be promoted to business development manager and then senior business development manager. Alternatively, they can choose to climb the management ladder by being promoted to sales manager, branch manager and subsequently vice president of the agency.

Since 2003, Altruist's annual revenue growth has maintained an average of 20 to 30 per cent. This year is expected to be even better with the latest results forecasting an increase of 25 to 30 per cent.

However, Mr Cho is quick to clarify Altruist's primary aim. "Instead of looking for aggressive growth, we put our main focus in bringing quality services to our customers," he concludes.


Taken from Career Times 27 July 2007, p. A10

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