Money Moves

IFA poised for regional expansion

by Ella Lee

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

Danny Tse, associate director, Global Investment Advisors
Photo: Johnny Kwok

Financial planning may now be one of the fastest-growing industries in Hong Kong, but the potential for growth in the local market is nothing when compared to what could happen in the rest of China. With this in mind, some of the sector's leading players are gearing up for expansion both in the mainland and elsewhere within the region.

Anticipating this trend, Global Investment Advisors (GIA) has positioned itself as an independent financial advisory (IFA) for investors in Greater China since its establishment in 2000. The group's top management comes from both Taiwan and Hong Kong and has over 20 years' experience in the field, and Systex, one of the leading software and IT companies listed in Taiwan, is a major GIA shareholder.

Therefore, it's not surprising that one of the company's major competitive advantages is its advanced technology platform for online trading and support.

"We developed a powerful interactive platform early on to let our customers obtain specific market data and manage their portfolios," says associate director Danny Tse. "The system is regularly upgraded, which allows us to maintain a technological edge and outperform other organisations."

Mr Tse thinks that the investing public in Hong Kong has definitely become more mature in recent years. He points out that people are taking a longer-term approach and diversifying their investments in order to balance risks and returns. As a result, clients are also getting more knowledgeable and are no longer prepared to commit to buying financial products without first getting good professional advice.

Not all markets are the same. In Taiwan, for example, customers' prime concern is tax planning, asset management, and looking for offshore investment opportunities. The mainland market is still evolving, as relevant policies and regulations are gradually put in place. However, Mr Tse believes that the GIA's familiarity with both Hong Kong and Taiwan will help them understand the needs of mainland customers more easily.

GIA currently has around 40 frontline financial consultants and plans to hire 20 or more new recruits this year. "We focus on quality rather than quantity, so the actual number will depend on how many good candidates we find," Mr Tse says.

Ideally, applicants should have a university degree and one to two years' relevant experience. Having professional qualifications overseen by the Hong Kong Confederation of Insurance Brokers or the Institute of Financial Planners of Hong Kong is certainly an advantage.

However, Mr Tse insists that personal qualities are the most important factor. "Integrity and business ethics are our top priority," he says. "We also closely consider whether candidates have the commitment and ambition for a long-term career in the field. You need that to keep learning about market changes and new industry requirements."

Financial consultants who want to make the most of opportunities in Taiwan and mainland China should be fluent in Putonghua. If necessary, though, the company will arrange language lessons and provide comprehensive training about the financial regulations and investment culture in Taiwan and China.

Taken from Career Times 17 February 2006, p. A2
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