Money Moves

Lifelong approach to financial advice

By Priscilla Chong

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

Bowen Wong, channel head and Paul Siu, advisor (right), Zurich Advice, Zurich Insurance Group (Hong Kong)
Photo: Edde Ngan

Even though local investor sentiment has strengthened in line with the pickup in the overall economy, many people are still failing to take full advantage of the opportunities available to manage their hard-earned money for the best possible returns.

Bowen Wong, channel head of Zurich Advice at Zurich Insurance Group (Hong Kong), says that his team has been in touch with many people who realise that the MPF (Mandatory Provident Fund) will not cover all their retirement needs, but have not calculated in detail their likely financial requirements. Therefore, since June, Zurich's advisors have offered a goal-based risk management advice and financial solutions service to help clients assess their current investment strategies.

The process begins with a period of fact-finding, which involves the advisor guiding the client through a questionnaire which is designed to pinpoint information about current financial status and future objectives. This is all part of providing a customer-driven service, rather than one which concentrates on selling certain types of financial product.

Based on the information obtained, the consultant will then recommend a customised financial plan. In doing this, it is possible to rely on the back up support and advice of other experienced team members. Following a best practice guide, they will also maintain a detailed record of each discussion with a client and refer to this when working out how best to deal with specific needs and circumstances.

The new team handling this business is made of some new recruits and other more experienced advisors transferred from Zurich Direct Agency. It has been set up as an independent division with a different system of remuneration and a special emphasis on building new business. Paul Siu is an example of the kind of new recruit the company is looking for. He originally joined as an advisor last September after graduating in chemistry and working in a related field for a few years. After moving into the financial services sector, he targeted middle-aged clients and achieved notable results. Mr Siu had analysed the market and realised that this age group would be moving towards retirement and could benefit from sound advice.

To guarantee the quality of services, Mr Wong explains that Zurich Advice sends coaches to assess how advisors handle client meetings and to provide feedback afterwards. The current plan is to hire any extra 80 advisors, taking the total to 200. Ideally, Zurich will be looking for candidates who have two to three years of work experience and the positive attitude needed to deal easily with target customers and colleagues.

Taken from Career Times 29 July 2005, p. A2
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