Financial services combine global and local excellence

by Ella Lee

Denny Chan, director, Life Business, Zurich Insurance Group (Hong Kong)
Photos: Courtesy of Zurich

Focused training offers long-term career and fosters entrepreneurship

While the insurance and financial planning industries continue to gain momentum, there is keen competition among the major players who must come up with winning strategies to outperform others. "Global reach and local touch" is what has been emphasised by Zurich Insurance Group (Hong Kong), a member of Zurich Financial Services — the largest Swiss-based insurer.

"As a Fortune Global 100 company with over 130 years' history, we enjoy a global presence and a reputation of being a solid insurer," says Denny Chan, director of Life Business, Zurich Insurance Group (Hong Kong). "We are committed to offering need-based risk management advice and financial solutions to customers."

Leveraging the heritage of the group, Zurich Hong Kong finds success in their customer-centric culture. "We provide personalised and tailor-made solutions that go beyond insurance products. These help clients to fulfil their financial goals at different life stages while averting business and personal uncertainties," Mr Chan notes.

Elite training

Building on its business strengths, Zurich offers aspired individuals a place for career success with a handful of training and development opportunities.

To centralise recruitment and training of new recruits for the best results, the company established the industry's first new advisor recruitment platform in 2004, and extended the capabilities of the Zurich Recruitment Centre to attract and nurture the next generation of financial and insurance elites. A two-stage intensive programme is specially designed for new advisors who are taught the principles, best practices and other skills. Field training is also an essential, which provides practical experience and guidance from designated mentors.

During the training period, milestones are set to be achieved. These include knowledge, skill, attitude, and mentoring and activities. To equip trainees with solid knowledge for obtaining professional qualifications, mock exams for the IIQE papers 1, 2, 3 and 5 are in place. And when they're good and ready, generous sponsorships are offered to new advisors taking the exams. "They are entitled to training allowance under the development programme," Mr Chan remarks. "The 10-week training session is actually a probation period, allowing the company and the new advisors to find out more about each other."

Long-term career goal

To support long-term career development of their advisors, Zurich organised a series of advanced education programmes and executive training. For example, the company joined forces with Lingnan University to offer the industry's first Executive MBA programme for insurance professionals that aims at promoting the industry standard and service excellence.

Furthermore, through Zurich Academy, advisors can gain access to the latest industry news and participate in overseas training. In a bid to provide an overview of the business environment and governance of financial planning in mainland China, the academy also jointly organised an executive training programme with Tsinghua University.

For agency management, the company has initiated financial advisory management in a pioneering model, under which different functional centres are formed. "These certainly help pave the way for a well-structured career path, where promotion is based on the performance and merit of advisors," Mr Chan says.

The company currently implements a dual agency management model. Advisors may continue to develop their career and entrepreneurship under the direct agency operation or pursue a more structured career by picking up a specific role under the financial advisory operation.

Business support

Besides the integrated training, the company also offers a full range of support. For example, the sophisticated Sales Automation and Management System allows advisors to accurately analyse customers' specific needs and devise tailor-made solutions. For financial advisory operation, there is also a centralised and comprehensive database for advisors to access customer details, such as investment history, risk tolerance and financial situation. "It helps ensure a smooth handover and service consistency when an advisor takes over a client account," says Mr Chan.

Also available are marketing and customer service support. The company organises a variety of campaigns to generate leads, expand client network and cultivate customer relationships. Besides, there is a telemarketing team under the financial advisory operation to help arrange meetings with clients, plus a service hotline to provide timely customer support.

Mr Chan believes that with such wide-ranging business support and training programmes, the company will continue to play a key role in nurturing financial advisors in a systematic way, which creates an all-win situation for customers, staff and the company.

Zurich insists on quality rather than quantity when recruiting. Besides high-potential fresh graduates and experienced professionals, the company also seeks to hire high-achievers with a banking and finance background, and those who look for a career shift and long-term development in the insurance and financial planning industry.

Essential attributes

  • Passionate and enthusiastic about the industry
  • Highly motivated and result-driven
  • Accustomed to the company's customer-centric culture and the principles of the insurance and financial planning industry
  • Effective communicator
  • Good team player

Taken from Career Times 16 February 2007
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