A job as a head investment consultant may be one of the most prestigious in the financial sector, but to make a success of it requires a great deal of professionalism and dedication.
Jondy Yiu, who is a manager of regulated investment sales at Hang Seng Bank, attributes his own success to the fact that he has always aimed to upgrade his skills. He explains that professional qualifications and continuing education are essential for anyone who wants to get ahead in the banking sector. For Mr Yiu, the process started when he obtained a bachelor of finance degree from the University of British Columbia in 1995. After working in banking for eight years, he then completed an MBA at the University of Hong Kong and has also acquired relevant professional qualifications.
Mr Yiu now leads a team of investment consultants and monitors the sales of different investment products on a day-to-day basis. He must ensure that the business done through the bank's branch network is in alignment with the strategic direction and that objectives are met. In addition to bringing in business, he pays special attention to the quality of sales and emphasises that everything must be done in strict compliance with guidelines and regulations.
"Nowadays, customers are more sophisticated and better informed about available investment products," Mr Yiu remarks. "As a result, they demand a much higher level of professionalism and service standards from the banks. Also, they now look for more tailor-made services and products to satisfy diverse needs."
This has to include a wide portfolio of financial planning services plus first-class pre-sales and after-sales services. To provide this, it is vital to learn about a customer's current needs and to look to the future as well. The process involves asking about risk tolerance levels, anticipating needs and formulating and implementing plans which meet various long-term goals.
Hang Seng Bank makes a point of passing on timely updates about financial information to help customers make the right investment decisions. Mr Yiu notes that practitioners also have to be responsive to market changes so they can offer the right product at the right time.
Although he studied finance, Mr Yiu did not go straight into banking. He worked first as a management trainee for an IT distributor and was responsible for the sales and marketing of a wide range of products. "This taught me about promoting products and honed my sensitivity to customer needs," he says. "Those are skills I can put to good use in my current banking job."
He joined Hang Seng Bank in 1998 as a retail banking trainee and gained all-round banking experience. In particular, a period in frontline sales helped him to develop better communication skills and gave him a better understanding of financial planning and customer relationship management. He rose rapidly through the ranks, specialised in sales, and proved himself capable of achieving aggressive goals.
Personal drive and dedication are seen as pre-requisites for success in the field. "Investment consultancy requires professionals who are proactive in serving customers and ready to react swiftly and efficiently to market changes," Mr Yiu says. "They must be able to offer timely information about a customer's investment interests, and must keep upgrading their skills and knowledge." He adds that, for advancement, it helps to map out a clear career strategy and to show you are prepared to put in the time and effort necessary to achieve professional goals.
- Emphasis on sales quality rather than just quantity
- Provide tailor-made services for different investors
- Need to be sensitive to customer needs and responsive to market changes
- Obtain professional qualifications and keep up to date with financial information