Money Moves

Investment services reaching out to the masses

by Ada Ng

This is a fortnightly series of articles focusing on the banking and financial industries

Tremendous growth opportunities are expected in the field of financial planning in the next few years. In particular, independent financial planners look set to benefit from this growth as the demand for impartial and personalised investment planning services increases, says Harris Fraser investment analyst Eddie Lee. Harris Fraser is one of more than 100 financial planners in Hong Kong that provide a range of non-affiliated or independent financial investment products to cater to different clients' needs.

"Investment planning or consulting services are no longer a luxury for well-to-do people who seek advice from private bankers," Mr Lee says. "We're seeing the concept of wealth management popularised and there is strong growth in demand at the retail banking level."

Many Hong Kong people, still reeling from the stock market falls and the property slump that followed the handover, are now more aware of the various types of diversified investment instruments in the market, Mr Lee notes.

With the advent of the mandatory provident fund (MPF) in 2000, there was a marked increase in wealth management services provided by banks and insurance companies which carry their own financial products. The launch of MPF helped growth in the independent financial planning market which provides a host of non-affiliated investment products and unbiased advice, says Mr Lee.

He expects the growth momentum in personalised investment planning to continue over the next few years, as the concept of diversified and long-term investment becomes more popular.

Mr Lee says the growth in independent financial planning services will probably outpace the growth in automated and computerised investment planning services offered by conventional banks and insurance companies.

"People with different social backgrounds and with various investment needs will turn to independent investment advisers for the flexibility of services and products they can offer," he adds.

To grow with this upcoming trend and demand for professional independent investment advice, Mr Lee says outgoing university graduates with a finance-related education and some work experience will likely be able to fit in as frontline sales force workers and advisers. Other supporting roles such as research and product review personnel and marketing professionals will also grow with the trend, he says.

Taken from Career Times 03 September 2004, p. 2
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