Money Moves

First-class training in financial planning and agency

by Anna Tong

Karlos Fung, vice president of Agency Training, American International Assurance Company (Bermuda) Limited
Photo: Johnny Kwok

The insurance industry has become increasingly more professional and credentialled since the mid-90s. This is the view of Karlos Fung, vice president of Agency Training at AIA, one of the largest insurance companies in the world. Currently there is a strong team of around 8,500 AIA representatives and the company expects to recruit 2,600 more.

Besides utilising the media, potential candidates are also recruited through friends of agency leaders or through their networks. Initially candidates are interviewed, given an aptitude test and then go on a career orientation programme explaining the career path and details of the profession. If the candidate is still keen on joining the industry they must pass Papers One (principles and practice of insurance) and Three (long term insurance) of the Intermediaries Qualifying Examination (IIQE). Successful candidates are required to register with the Insurance Agents Registration Board as an insurance agent before contracting with AIA.

Mr Fung emphasises that there is a policy that encourages potential AIA representatives take the professional examinations, and they are put on an in-house exam-training scheme for preparation. Once the new recruits pass the examinations and register as insurance agents, they go on the eight to 10 days' compulsory in-house new agents training programme or financial planners trainees programme. The scheme trains the new recruits in selling skills and cycles as well as client relationship skills. Once comprehensive training is completed AIA representatives are given advanced financial training, which includes risk management, wealth management and financial health check. "Advanced training enables our representatives to use 'the total protection' concept to do a financial health check on clients risk and wealth management and develop a tailored programme for the client," says Mr Fung.

After gaining experience as an AIA representative, advanced professional certification is available and includes the Securities Futures Commission (SFC) licence and the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) as well as the Chartered Insurance Agency Management (CIAM) designations. As part of a policy to provide the best training for their representatives, AIA enlists the help of external institutions such as HKU SPACE and the organising bodies to give training as a run-up to the examinations. "We give the best professional and individual training that is possible," says Mr Fung.

Increasingly, the insurance industry has become a customer centric business so the most important quality that is looked for in a potential candidate is a sense of responsibility both to the client and the company. Other characteristics desired include integrity and trustworthiness. "We want someone who can adapt to the company culture and mission - to be distinguished through our care and trust and exceed client expectations," adds Mr Fung. A career in the insurance industry is challenging yet rewarding and he believes it is ideal for both fresh graduates and professionals alike.

Taken from Career Times 13 April 2007, p. A2
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