Money Moves

Insurers upgrade knowledge for China plays

by Isabella Lee

Davey Lee, chairman, Professional Development Centre, General Agents and Managers Association of Hong Kong
Photo: Johnny Kwok

Compared with a decade or so ago, the threshold for entering the insurance field has taken a great leap upward, from requiring minimal academic qualifications to the current preference for university graduates. An important reason for this change is the industry's ever-growing demand for increasingly competitive talents.

"Eighteen years ago when I joined the industry, the standard for insurance sales was relatively lower. As a graduate of the University of Hong Kong, I was a very rare case at that time,"says Davey Lee, chairman, Professional Development Centre, General Agents and Managers Association of Hong Kong (GAMAHK).

With an aim to upgrade the standard of professional management among insurance and financial service managers, GAMAHK offers members an array of quality training courses and workshops, ranging from recruiting and training, to coaching and inspiring team members. To raise the professional standing of the industry in the community, different activities are carried out regularly, while at its annual convention heavyweight speakers share their inspirational stories of success.

To succeed in the industry takes more than selling skills, the impression most people connect with insurance and financial products and services. Mr Lee points out, the functions of insurance service are evolving. When insurance companies were first established in Hong Kong, one of their main purposes was to secure people's valuable possessions. Later, investment concepts emerged, and insurance service took on a more comprehensive role in financial planning. Judged by the development of the industry in the US and some European countries, the coming focus will be on asset planning.

"The total amount of assets Hong Kong people own was over HK$36 billion in 2005. Handling these assets entails complex legal and financial procedures. At the same time, it creates a big market for asset planning service providers," Mr Lee adds. To meet the educational aspects of asset planning, the Professional Development Centre in GAMAHK has organised a series of programmes, with the first course, fundamental asset planning knowledge, being covered in five modules.

In addition to courses in such specialised areas, GAMAHK provides its members with a variety of learning opportunities through cooperation with world-class education institutions such as Tsing Hua University and the University of North Alabama. "Before entering the China market, insurance managers must have a thorough understanding of the mainland system. The five-day course jointly organised by GAMAHK and Tsing Hua University provides a highly useful learning experience," Mr Lee notes.

"The insurance industry faces a bright future. Besides the growth of the local market, we hold a privileged position as China is opening up. In a short period of time, it is estimated that over a hundred insurance companies will enter the mainland. Therefore, I always encourage university graduates to follow my footsteps to play a part in the industry," Mr Lee emphasises.

Taken from Career Times 09 March 2007, p. A2
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