Money Moves

Leveraging your investment experience

By Priscilla Chong

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

Atak Yau, manager, Phillip Financial Advisors (HK) Ltd, Phillip Securities (HK) Ltd
Photo: Nolly Leung

As investors in Hong Kong have ready access to a wide range of financial information, they bring a certain level of knowledge and experience to any dealings they have with their independent financial advisors (IFAs). Therefore, it is vital for any employers in the sector to train consultants to the highest standards, so they can handle the type of well-informed enquiries that clients are sure to raise.

Phillip Financial Advisors (HK) Ltd is an extension arm of Phillip Securities (HK) Ltd, the largest IFA in Singapore. Their strategy is based on providing experienced staff with a solid trading platform and encouraging them to engage actively in growing the wealth of their clients, rather than just offering advice at arm's length.

"Not all new recruits who join us have a strong financial background, so we provide courses on investment from fundamental to advanced level to gear them up," says Atak Yau, manager of Phillip Financial Advisors (HK) Ltd and Phillip Securities (HK) Ltd. Consultants are expected to develop in-depth product knowledge which includes an understanding of intricate products like options. Those who demonstrate special interest or aptitude for the workings of the share market are given a six-month immersion programme to sharpen their skills.

Instead of simply contacting new clients by phone, IFAs are attached to one of the six branch offices. "Countless passers-by drop in to check share prices, so those branches become a place to foster relationships with existing clients and for brokers to make initial contacts with potential clients," Mr Yau explains. In addition, it means that facilities and support are available to help more junior consultants get well established and build a client base.

"There are many products and multiple delivery channels to learn about, but they are what underlie the strength of our service," he adds.

Most products available in the market are linked to long-term investments of from 10 to 30 years. However, since people are also looking for flexibility and shorter-term investments, the company has developed a range of products which give returns after three years. This clearly differentiates them from what consultants with insurance companies or banks can offer. Clients also enjoy the advantages of being able to switch easily from stocks to funds or options. Besides that, any stock transactions can be conducted by telephone or via the Internet, since comprehensive service options and systems are in place to back up the IFAs.

Phillip Financial Advisors intends to double the size of its team to 100 consultants this year. This aggressive expansion plan will go together with additional efforts at brand building. Already, the company's financial experts are asked to comment on TV, radio, and in the newspapers, and this type of media exposure helps to enhance their standing within the industry. A campaign using advertisements on buses has also brought the company to the attention of the wider public. "Our aim is to do everything we can to help our IFAs build the business," Mr Yau says.

Taken from Career Times 08 April 2005, p. 2
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