With the launch of an "experts for valued customers" scheme, Shanghai Commercial Bank Ltd (SCB) aims to offer complete banking solutions.
"We always believe our priority is to serve the interests of customers and their families," says Edward Chu, the bank's director and assistant general manager. He adds that financial experts are therefore trained to help customers analyse options and potential risks, and establish their preferences when planning an optimal investment portfolio.
Products are only recommended when there is a clear and thorough understanding of a customer's needs. The full process involves defining investment priorities and retirement objectives in the course of detailed discussions, and then explaining the range of solutions available.
Financial planners will subsequently maintain close contact with each customer and arrange regular reviews to ensure that goals are being met. This attention to good service has made it possible to gain many new customers by means of referrals and on the strength of a reputation for reliability.
Market demand for financial planners is very high at present
From its base in Hong Kong, the bank oversees offices in the US and London, which were originally opened to assist migrants setting up new businesses, as well as some of the training for staff in major mainland cities.
SCB has also invested heavily in cutting-edge technology and considers its CRM database among the best in town. The IT system used for settlement procedures offers seamless backup for frontline financial planners and thus enhances their day-to day effectiveness.
"We provide wide-ranging support so that employees can fully explore their potential," says Mr Chu.
Comprehensive training programmes in job-related knowledge and skills are held every month. These deal with banking and finance topics, in-depth product knowledge, market trends, and business skills. There are also courses and seminars arranged whenever new products or services are introduced.
Specifically for financial planners, the bank organises internal training and sponsors external courses needed to obtain professional licences, such as the Chartered Financial Management Planner (CFMP™) qualification offered by the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers.
Regarding personal qualities, Mr Chu says that integrity is of prime importance for financial planners.
"We keep reminding our own staff that successful asset management is built upon trust. When customers realise their wealth management is in good hands and that they can have confidence in our service quality, they will place more of their investments with us," he says.
In more general terms, he notes that it is still necessary for the government and the industry itself to do more to educate members of the public about wealth management.
He points out that starting to invest relatively early in one's working life maximises the benefits, and that individuals must take responsibility for their own long-term financial security. People should realise that MPF contributions alone may not be sufficient to meet the full needs of a possibly long retirement.
"Market demand for financial planners is very high at present," Mr Chu says. "We therefore welcome applications from experienced professionals and offer excellent career prospects for people with initiative, passion and the motivation to succeed."