Money Moves

Demand for wealth management professionals exceeds supply

by Ada Poon

Alex Lee, executive director
Noble Apex Advisors Ltd
Photo: Nolly Leung

In a positive economy people's knowledge of financial products increases and they begin to expect a wider range of financial offerings and higher returns on investments. This puts pressure on the finance industry as more frontline financial professionals are needed and demand largely outstrips supply.

Alex Lee, executive director, Noble Apex Advisors Ltd says, "Wealth management is growing at record speed. Hong Kong people's wealth status is continuously improving and as a result the demand for financial services is expanding rapidly. Though there are more financial talents being trained in universities, the supply does not yet meet the fast-increasing demand. The entire industry is facing a shortage of frontline consultants."

Noble Apex currently employs around 200 staff, of which over 75 per cent are commission-based financial consultants. They support a comprehensive range of products and services in personal financial planning, asset management and insurance.

With its in-house professional expertise eager for a new challenge, the company started to develop its new asset management business three years ago and now manages funds under its own brand for internal clients.

While focused on improving its Hong Kong business, the company is also doing groundwork across the border to prepare for future opportunities in mainland China. A representative office has been set up in Shanghai to establish local networks and promote the Noble Apex name in the China market. According to Mr Lee, these preparatory works are vital as they will allow the company to seize tremendous opportunities once the market is open.

To maintain a competitive edge, Noble Apex continues to build on its strengths, such as its company scale, good image, extensive product range and career prospects for staff. To enhance the skills of frontline personnel it offers training on company culture, selling skills and product knowledge. "Since we have a broad range of products and we work with numerous agents, our staff need to understand our product offerings to provide the best choice for different clients," Mr Lee says.

Entry requirements to become a financial planner include a university degree and relevant professional licenses. Mr Lee says that an open and outgoing personality, service-oriented mind and preparedness for toughness and challenges are also important elements to succeed in the highly competitive work environment. For those with prior experience, the company also considers track record in performance and ethics.

"It is challenging," Mr Lee says. "Frontline staff must maintain our client base and steady income while ensuring a high standard of service at all times. In the beginning, a new entrant may not make a high income. He or she must have a positive attitude to strive through the challenging times. It is not uncommon for people to quit if they are not prepared for this."

Mr Lee says that in looking to the future the company will closely monitor development in the Greater China and Asia Pacific regions and aim to capitalise on all the potential business opportunities.

Taken from Career Times 27 July 2007, p. A10
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