Senior Product Development Officer
Wealth Management Department
Shanghai Commercial Bank
Photo: Louis Lam
In the financial advisory business, communication is key to building long-term relationships and to devising comprehensive, flexible plans that will serve clients' interests through market fluctuations.
In Chinese writing, the word "integrity" is aptly made up of the characters for "word" and "result", says Andy Chan, Senior Product Development Officer, Wealth Management Department, Shanghai Commercial Bank. This concept sums up the importance of trusting two-way interaction between financial advisers and their clients, starting with open conversation and leading to productive financial planning.
While relationship managers must keep in touch with clients and show a keen interest in their financial priorities, comprehensive, one-stop banking services and timely financial management advice and solutions are vital for building lasting relationships, notes Mr Chan, one of the group A finalists in this year's Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards.
"Another feature of excellent customer service, which reflects advisers' level of professionalism, is to keep clients updated," he stresses, adding that many investors do not have full insight into market conditions and may make impulsive decisions. Wealth managers should have a convincing presence and share their professional knowledge to steer clients towards potentially profitable investment choices.
"We're able to draw from our past experience of the recent financial downturn and other crises to show our clients how to invest wisely even when times are tough," Mr Chan explains. "The right advice at the right time helps to consolidate long-term relationship with them as partners."
A thorough understanding of a client's situation and present and future goals is crucial.
Although some people may have initial reservations about revealing information about their private lives, a caring attitude and thoughtful questions can overcome this barrier, Mr Chan notes. Referring to previous conversations is also an effective tool, as it shows that the wealth manager paid careful attention to the client's concerns in the past, he adds.
While it is common for investors to have doubts about their financial planning portfolios, some concerns tend to arise from personal circumstances while others stem from external conditions. These can be resolved through regular reviews of the client's situation and the drawing up of appropriate solutions, in order to provide comprehensive financial protection during the different stages of life.
"As for concerns surrounding market volatility, I reassure my clients that financial planning is a long-term effort and fluctuations are a natural part of the cycle."
Taking part in the HKIB Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards has definitely broadened his knowledge of financial products and global finance, from the finer details of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to property market trends in Europe, stresses Mr Chan. Preparing his case studies and presentation for the competition also helped him to further develop his organisational skills, which have greatly facilitated his daily interaction with clients.
He was fortunate to receive useful advice from a colleague who was one of last year's winners, while the wealth management team provided extensive training on presentations and the product team offered daily market briefings. Mr Chan also benefited from advice from the retail banking division on customer interaction and presentations.
"My success is ultimately the result of a team effort. My colleagues truly helped me to step up my skills to become a much sharper contestant," he concludes.
Taken from Career Times 11 November 2011, A4