Money Moves

Financial planners prepare for bright future

by Susanna Tai

This is a fortnightly series of articles focusing on the banking and financial industries

Kanki Lam, district director, American International Assurance Co (Bermuda) Ltd
Photo: AIA

Success in the field of financial planning entails providing a diverse range of clients with tailor-made services to meet their investment needs. According to Kanki Lam, district director of American International Assurance Co (Bermuda) Ltd (AIA), it is also essential for individuals to have the ambition and determination to get ahead in a competitive market. "You must be clear about what you want to achieve and prepare yourself for success," he says.

Doing this is no easy task and, as AIA unit managers Florence Lee and Wave Chow confirm, it takes a special combination of personal attributes to excel. Both are in their early thirties and have been in their current roles for over three years. They are recognised as outstanding performers within the company and put this down in part to being outgoing, diligent, patient, adaptable and well informed about various financial products.

"Career progress depends very much on individual performance. What makes the job fulfilling is that I know hard work will be rewarded," says Mr Chow. He had not originally considered a job in financial planning, but realising his preference was to work in a role that involved a lot of contact with other people, he was happy to give it a try.

"It was really hard at the beginning and I had to put in considerable effort to improve my interpersonal and presentation skills," he says. "However, I was very lucky, because AIA provides very good introductory courses for new recruits and I was soon able to pick up the necessary skills."

For Ms Lee, the key to success has been her drive and ambition. "I always strive to do my best, but have also had the chance to work with managers and colleagues who know all about the industry. I have learned from them while also remembering the importance of self-enhancement," she explains.

AIA places great emphasis on training and improving team spirit. "We use different channels to help employees achieve practical goals, build networks of personal contacts and generate new ideas," says Mr Lam.

Since joining AIA in 1994, Ms Lee has won the Hong Kong Management Association's outstanding young salesperson award in 1997 and the distinguished agent award from the Life Underwriters Association in 1999. She has also collected numerous company awards over the years for her performance as an agent and unit manager within the region.

In Mr Chow's view, life-long learning is the foundation for any career. Therefore, he has already qualified as a certified financial planner (CFP) in Hong Kong, a fellow chartered financial practitioner (FChFP) in the Asia-Pacific region, a registered financial planner (RFP) and a life underwriter training course fellow (LUTCF) in the US.

As Mr Lam points out: "Excellent management and leadership involve continuous learning to gain better insight and handle more responsibilities. We motivate our future leaders and want to help them achieve their professional goals."

Taken from Career Times 25 November 2005, p. A2
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