|Elaine Lau, managing director Tanrich Futures Limited|
Photo: Nolly Leung
Home-grown financial firm keeps its eye on the mainland as it widens its offerings
For Hong Kong investors more familiar with products such as stocks and foreign exchange, commodities futures may be a less-explored option. But with global financial markets set to remain volatile, financial institutions are expanding their scope of services to maximise short- and long-term prospects for clients' portfolios.
A wholly owned subsidiary of Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed Tanrich Financial Holdings Ltd, Tanrich Futures provides individual investors with a comprehensive range of financial products, such as Hong Kong and overseas stocks, commodity futures, funds and insurance products. It also offers financing and other consultancy services to corporate clients. Investment immigration is another major business focus of the company, since some of its consultants have strong mainland connections and a good understanding of client demands across the border.
Commodity futures is an investment area that has remained comparatively under-developed in Hong Kong over the past few decades, since many local investors have a limited understanding of commodity futures and associate them with high risk, says Elaine Lau, managing director, Tanrich Futures Limited. However, there is ample room for growth in the field, considering the growing demand from mainland clients wishing to purchase commodity futures in Hong Kong, she adds.
"The local market demonstrates a higher level of professionalism and offers a broader range of international products than the mainland's three commodity futures markets," she explains, noting that the Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing's recent purchase of the London Metal Exchange should also stimulate the development of commodity futures trading.
Investment consultants' prospects will become increasingly diversified as the market and financial institutions expand, Ms Lau believes. Technical expertise and excellent client-service skills are essential for those wanting to embark on this field, as investment consultants must maintain close relationships with their clients.
Apart from the financial rewards, one of the most fulfilling aspects of working in the industry is the personal development it facilitates, she says. "As consultants develop their careers and networks serving high-end clients, they learn a lot about the business world and professional relationships. Our staff members also find it very rewarding to grow with the company, a local organisation that has evolved alongside Hong Kong's financial industry."
To embark on the profession, a degree in finance, accounting, economics or law provide an advantage, as candidates have to pass relevant licensing examinations before graduating or once they join the industry, says Ms Lau. Frontline customer-service experience is helpful, while an outgoing personality, good communication skills and a keen sense of initiative are crucial to help clients make the most of the changing investment scenario.
Tanrich's investment consultants tailor their services to individual customer needs and preferences, she points out. Apart from producing regular reports on the performance of clients' investment portfolios, consultants regularly review their financial goals, which change as their personal circumstances evolve and they get older. This involves fine-tuning services and making product recommendations. Monitoring market news, updates and new developments is another key aspect of the job.
Retail sales is a good starting point for fresh graduates hoping to enter the profession, as such experience helps them gain exposure to products and customer service. Newcomers at Tanrich undergo intensive orientation and personalised training, as well as six months' mentoring by senior consultants. They are given customer-communication and service responsibilities, as well as documentation, research and other duties to familiarise them with the role of an investment consultant and give them a solid foundation for future development.
Competition is keen in the industry, but Ms Lau believes there are still substantial rewards for ambitious, talented candidates wanting to succeed. Tanrich offers extensive in-house and external training and supports candidates to study for their professional qualifications. Employees are rigorously assessed, based on the volume of business they bring in, as well as on their overall performances and customer appraisals.
"Aspiring consultants can pursue diverse paths, including wealth management for individual clients and asset management for corporations, once they have some years of industry experience," Ms Lau notes. "Candidates with excellent people-management skills have an advantage, since we're always on the look-out for business leaders to nurture our developing talent."
Tanrich is committed to establishing its presence on the mainland, a move expected to both challenge and bring new opportunities for employees. "Young candidates must be dedicated and believe in their ability, bearing in mind their long-term prospects when making their career choices. At Tanrich, we strive to be an all-round provider of quality financial services in Hong Kong and across the border," Ms Lau concludes.
Ample room for growth in the commodity futures field
Technical expertise and excellent client-service skills essential for investment consultants
A degree in finance, accounting, economics or law an advantage
Mainland expansion to bring challenges as well as opportunities
Taken from Career Times 3 August 2012, A6