Financial Planning / Wealth Management

Keeping service in the forefront

by Nicolette Wong

Shell Au, Senior Personal Financial Services Manager, Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited
Shell Au
Senior Personal Financial Services Manager
Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited
Photo: Dickie Tam
The competition in Hong Kong's booming wealth management industry looks set to increase and banking institutions are pulling out all the stops to attract and retain not only the loyalty of their customers but also talented workers who are able to contribute their skills and knowledge to the sustainable success of their employers.

Experienced banking professional Shell Au, currently a Senior Personal Financial Services Manager with Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited, understands this.

Ms Au says, "Part of our responsibility is therefore to keep a finger on the market pulse so that we will continue to add value to our service, and more importantly, to the relationships that we work hard to build with our customers."

She notes that long-term client relationships are built upon an honest, ethnical approach to customer service. When putting together a wealth management portfolio, for instance, financial services managers must offer the clients a clear description of the fee structure and possible risks in order to assess the suitability of all the products in question.

"Only when the clients feel comfortable with the risk levels then we should move on to explain the product features and potential returns," Ms Au says.

A friendly and caring disposition and a customer-oriented mind-set are some of the most distinguished characteristics of a successful wealth management professional. Ms Au agrees. As such, she finds it important to spend time and make every effort necessary to understand her clients' background, financial preferences and goals, as well as lifestyle aspirations in the very beginning of a client relationship.

Being responsive is another stamp of a responsible and sincere relationship manager, she says. For example, customer inquiries must always be addressed promptly and one should always pay attention to the clients' needs not only for wealth management but also for general banking needs. "Small gestures go a long way," she stresses. "If we take the initiative, the clients will appreciate it and feel valued."

Full support

Successful wealth management professionals never work behind closed doors. "We must learn to appreciate and enlist the expertise of others," Ms Au points out.

She reveals that she receives substantial support from her colleagues who may help her with customer enquiries among other things. Staff training and development serves as an on-going source of support, which is indispensible and invaluable, she points out.

One of the group B finalists in this year's Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards, Ms Au has seized the opportunity to polish her skills, and again, with help from the bank, colleagues and the bank's devoted training team. "The preparation has been intensive and I'm ever so grateful for all the help and support from the bank's trainers and the encouragement from our senior management."

She concedes that the training has also bolstered her self-confidence, and in particular, opened up new perspectives in customer relationship management.

"It is of vital importance that we see things from our client's point of view and work around their preferences and aspirations," she concludes.

Taken from Career Times 11 November 2011, A6
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