Money Moves

Insurance giant looks for 3,000 eager talent

by Ada Ng

Derek Yung
senior vice president and general manager
AIA Hong Kong and Macau's
Photo: Courtesy of AIA

More than 4,000 jobseekers turned up to a two-day job fair organised by insurer American International Assurance Company (Bermuda) Limited (AIA) last month.

The "AIA Career Day 2009" certainly brought good news to the local employment market, which has been rife with layoffs and pay cuts.

One main focus of the event was a newly created associate financial planner (AFP) programme, which aims to attract candidates with a Form Five education and two years of work experience.

By the end of this year, AIA aims to recruit a total of 1,500 AFPs and a matching number of financial planners with university degrees. The insurer offers a monthly allowance of between HK$6,000 to HK$20,000 and an 18-month financial planning training for AFPs, and a monthly allowance of between HK$10,000 to HK$20,000 and additional financial planning training for financial planners.

On-the-job training and education subsidies of about US$4,000 will be given to every AFP and go towards attaining industry accreditations such as the Insurance Intermediaries Qualifying Examination (IIQE) and Financial Advisers' International Qualification (FAIQ), according to Derek Yung, AIA Hong Kong and Macau's senior vice president and general manager.

"We're turning the economic crisis into opportunities for aspiring individuals," says Mr Yung. "We hope to absorb the best talents in town before the investment market regains speed."

The AIA Career Day also aimed to tap the growing pool of talent from the banking sector. "Banking professionals are one of our major targets," he adds. "We believe that the market will pick up pace towards the end of this year and people's desire for investment and demand for professional financial planning will grow significantly."

According to Mr Yung, financial planning is not done out of impulse. It is essential for everyone at different stages of life, and people tend to be more aware of the needs in times of economic volatility.

"Indeed, we forecast a stable year-on-year increase in insurance related product investments from September 2008 to now," he notes. "So, it's time we strengthened our agency force into a professional team capable of handling financial planning."

The recruitment drive goes hand-in-hand with AIA's expansion plans in the wealth management business. The company will also launch a new version of its Financial Health Check analysis tool later this year to better understand customers' needs.

Candidates at the Career Day each took a personality test before attending a face-to-face interview. Successful candidates for the AFP programme were asked to sit for the Insurance Intermediaries Qualifying Examination Paper I and III before AIA formally offers them the position, according to Jones Lam, AIA's vice president and head of financial planning. Examination reimbursement will be given upon successful completion of the required exams.

Golden opportunity

  • New associate financial planner programme attracts experienced professionals without university qualifications
  • Market expected to pick up pace towards the end of this year
  • Recruitment drive aligned with expansion plans in wealth management

Taken from Career Times 06 March 2009, p. A2
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