In times of crisis, businesses capable of turning risk into opportunity can play a more permanent role in the market. Sun Hung Kai Financial, Hong Kong's leading non-bank financial institution, is a case in point.
While many financial houses are now struggling to survive, Sun Hung Kai Financial is eyeing expansion on the mainland and strengthening its sales team with a view to growing its business.
"First and foremost, we need to recruit the right talent," says Joseph Tong, executive director and chief executive officer, wealth management, brokerage & capital markets, Sun Hung Kai Financial.
According to Mr Tong, the company is looking for veteran financiers, preferably investment advisors or private bankers, to fill the positions of vice president and assistant vice president.
The right candidates must possess five to seven years' of investment experience and maintain a wide and strong customer network. "We don't have an upper limit for recruiting and the recruitment process will continue throughout the year," he notes.
To attract confident and high calibre professionals, the company is set to offer highly competitive remuneration packages. However, Mr Tong suggests, prospective candidates should focus on their long-term career growth. Those seeking a fulfilling career will find the company an ideal career platform.
"Most customers are cautious about making investment decisions currently, but our strong and trusted brand essentially gives them confidence," he says. "We provide our professional sales teams with a wide-ranging portfolio of products and services, comprehensive training, a state-of-the-art execution infrastructure to ensure prompt and reliable transactions as well as multiple channels for capitalising on business opportunities."
Sun Hung Kai Financial's five core business areas include wealth management and brokerage, asset management, consumer finance, capital markets and principal investments — a winning formula that gives the company a strong foothold in the local financial market. Mr Tong remarks that each of these areas maintains a long-term and balanced approach to growth.
"In spite of the recent turmoil, our group retains a strong financial outlook and is well capitalised," he emphasises. As of 31 December 2008, the company has more than HK$50 billion in assets under management, custody and/or advice.
"Compared to the same period last year, the current daily transaction volume of the stock market is approximately 50 per cent down. Inevitably, brokerage income for all financial institutions has declined, although our consumer finance business continues to prosper mainly because of the banks' tightening of credit policies and the surging demand for personal loans," Mr Tong reveals.
Both the US and Europe are believed to have a long way to go to recuperate from the recession. Mr Tong asserts that neighbouring China's influence is growing more pervasive and this is where future opportunities lie.
"It's commonly agreed that mainland China is going to play a key role in the global economic recovery. Together with Hong Kong, the two are most likely to be the first to pick up pace," he says. "What may follow is the gradual opening up of the financial markets on the mainland."
To build a China presence, Sun Hung Kai Financial forged a joint venture with Zhejiang Province Yongan Futures Broker Company Limited, one of the largest futures houses in China, in 2006.
"We are confident that with its network and presence in the futures market in China, we will be able to access its customers who are interested in overseas commodities," Mr Tong says.
Compared to the trading of futures commodities in mainland China, demand for securities trading and wealth management products is at the initial stage, with infinite growth potential. For this reason, the company is progressively looking for mainland partners to further penetrate the vast market via joint ventures.
"With our six representative offices in mainland cities including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, we are in a prime position for future expansion," Mr Tong stresses.
According to him, a considerable number of mainland Chinese investors have been trading securities in Hong Kong via the company.
"With a static population, Hong Kong is a mature securities market that is unlikely to see drastic growth of local investors. Most people in China will gradually learn to invest, and wealth management will become a key area they will increasingly focus on," Mr Tong points out.
"Furthermore, an increasing number of mainland companies are looking for raising fund through IPOs in the Hong Kong stock market. This will attract new investors from both China and overseas."