Financial Planning / Wealth Management

Employer support underpins financial planning careers

by Norman Yam

Lena Chan, head of learning and employee development, Asia Pacific, HSBC

Financial planners should focus on long-term professional goals

As a clear sign of a stronger economy, banks are once again increasing headcount and, interestingly, many of the newly created positions relate to financial planning.

HSBC alone intends to recruit over 100 financial planners this year, to add to the roughly 700 it already has, to cope with increasing customer demand for sophisticated wealth management services.

"This strong demand for financial planners reflects macro-level shifts within our industry," says Lena Chan, head of learning and employee development, Asia Pacific. "The increase in customer demand of wealth management services, together with the aging population, support the continuous increase in workforce dedicated to look after the life-stage financial planning and wealth management needs of customers.

This explains why banks are now offering a comprehensive range of investment, insurance and wealth management products tailored to meet the financial goals and needs of individual customers. As a result, suitably qualified professionals are needed to explain the choice and provide expert advice to customers.

"To succeed, financial planners must have a core set of personal attributes," says Ms Chan. "At HSBC, we expect them to have a high level of integrity and to place customer interests above their own. Professionalism and good social and communication skills are needed to foster trust and build long-term relationships with clients."

She adds that the ever-changing choice and types of wealth management products mean financial planners must keep up to date and develop all-round industry expertise. This should cover savings schemes, taxation, insurance, investment and retirement planning. Only by doing this can they offer customers strategic and well-informed information to help realise their financial goals throughout different life stages.

HSBC expects their financial professional accreditation with a commitment on continuous learning. Their recruitment approach is to attract university graduates with two to three years' sales experience; as well as mid-career professionals who may have worked in different fields previously. Besides that, early retirees who are looking to start a second career will get full consideration and are encouraged to apply. An aggressive recruitment drive is currently under way and includes, advertisements, open-house events and staff referral programmes.

Ms Chan's advice to potential applicants is to look beyond immediate remuneration. "Given the global scale of our operations, we can offer a lifetime career, supported by excellent training, and long term international administrative backup and career exposure," she notes. "Our financial planners work closely with relationship managers and other colleagues in different branch offices, putting customer's interest as a priority."

She adds that the bank provides a comprehensive infrastructure of support, that wraps around and support frontline staff, helping them grow and pursue a successful career. "We offer the most attractive customer-base to our financial planners who will need to deliver a high standard of professionalism and integrity to deliver HSBC's promise."

New recruits can expect to follow a well-structured career path. In the first six months, they will complete an intensive training programme. Each part of the programme is designed to develop technical and communication skills, aw well as professional skills in understanding customers' needs.

Assuming they pass the probation period and continue to perform well, financial planning managers can expect to move up to positions as division sales manager and take on broader responsibilities for running the business. There are also opportunities for them to pursue other career interest under a broad spectrum of job opportunities.

"Success in this profession is about individual hard work as much as the support offered by the employer," says Ms Chan. "However, a financial planner must be professional, put customer interest as the first priority, and have a long-term career goal."

Hire ground

  • Intention to recruit an additional 100 financial planners in the next few months
  • Professionalism, integrity and good communication skills are key attributes
  • Graduates, mid-career professionals in other fields and early retirees are welcome to apply
  • A large customer base and extensive training provide new recruits with excellent support

Taken from Career Times 07 July 2006
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