Independent thinkers provide impartial adviceby Anna Tong
Finding the right talent in the financial sector is more complicated than simply hiring someone with suitable qualifications and a matching background. It is even more important to find professionals that fit into a company's culture and identify with its vision.
"The recruitment process has to be managed very well so that new recruits who initially showed promise will settle into the job and the environment quickly," says Rosetta Fong, CEO & executive director, Convoy Financial Services Holdings Limited.
While job applicants' appearances, resumes and behaviour during the interview may be impressive, their performances are not always in line with expectations. For this reason, Ms Fong believes that it is essential for employers to ensure that their prospective employees are compatible with the company in the long run.
"The question is very often whether job candidates can see themselves building a career here at Convoy," she notes. "It's quite easy to identify hard skills by studying a candidate's profile, but we can only assess their soft skills during face-to-face interviews. The ways they introduce themselves and answer specific questions are good indicators."
Recruits that get past the selection process are not thrown straight into the deep end, Ms Fong points out, explaining that part of the company's corporate responsibility policy is to provide training, not only to enhance their skills, but also to open up their career prospects and make them more valuable as they progress in the workplace.
Established in 1993, Convoy is an independent financial advisor with a team of more than 1,000 consultants providing impartial planning services.
Newly joined recruits immediately embark on a seven-day introductory programme that focuses particularly on compliance issues. The aim is to ensure that they are fully aware of their responsibilities to both their clients and Convoy before they start serving customers, says Ms Fong.
To get them up to speed, the company immerses them in a mentorship programme, which enables them to learn from senior members of staff. Such "direct transfer of experience and skills" to younger, less experienced employees also helps to foster a supportive culture within the organisation, she adds.
Team members, regardless of their experience, are encouraged to participate in continuous professional development (CPD) programmes to take their know-how and skills one step further. A Professional Life & Death Education programme, for example, prepares planners to guide customers, friends or colleagues that are experiencing life and death situations. "Not many advisors are qualified to deal with such issues, but those that are equipped with such skills are in a better position to take care of their clients' well-being in a more holistic way," Ms Fong says.
New recruits that are working towards their licensing exams are given a choice between direct study courses or working individually through online mock examination papers in their own time. "This arrangement gives them flexibility to manage time and prioritise tasks," she remarks.
Since there is always room for improvement, learning does not stop once staff members reach senior levels at Convoy, Ms Fong stresses. "We dedicate an annual subsidy to self-improvement initiatives for each of our employees," she reveals.
No two individuals are alike, so teaching goes further than a passive classroom situation. Ms Fong adds, "We prefer a proactive, dual-purpose approach to learning, where the mentors master their teaching and people skills, while their proteges grasp the importance of taking the initiative."
The company attempts to inspire new staff to strive for academic excellence, not only by supporting them to fulfil their compulsory licensing requirements and urging them to pursue professional development programmes and professional qualification, but also by motivating them to enter industry competitions such as the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards, which Convoy believes benefit both the organisation and its consultants in more ways than one.
"Participating in this highly regarded event helps our staff grow, since it gives them the chance to reflect on what they've achieved so far and how they can take a step further," notes Ms Fong, adding that the company regards its business as being about more than just numbers, but also about maintaining a high standard of professionalism.
Taken from Career Times 5 November 2010, A5