Money Moves

Local platform offers boundless opportunities

by Isabella Lee

Sidney Sze
chief executive officer
Midland Wealth Management
Photo: Nolly Leung

Blessed with a low tax rate and other user – friendly structures, Hong Kong has long been a haven for overseas corporate and individual investors. The attraction has intensified since the introduction of the zero inheritance tax policy which has become an additional motive for injecting capital into the lucrative local financial systems.

"Certainly, this tiny spit of land is staying in the leading position for financial services in the Greater China region," remarks Sidney Sze, chief executive officer, Midland Wealth Management. "For instance, we are able to draw many clients from Taiwan to our insurance industry."

Affected by the strict rules governing foreign companies on the island, Taiwanese citizens have a comparatively limited choice of insurance products at home. To get around this, many of them consider options in Hong Kong where more variety is available.

Among the selections offered by Midland, single premium financing (SPF) products are some of the most widely utilised by affluent Taiwanese groups such as doctors and lawyers. With SPF products clients can acquire high protection plans in the initial transaction for only a fraction of the total value, and the plans are treated as duty-free funds belonging to the recipients.

Similar offshore products are also popular with mainland residents who are seeking investment options for their abundant capital. At Midland they can find financial services that suit their unique needs easily because the local market's long history means many alternatives have been developed.

For people who are after something more complex, Midland offers a one-stop service. "Taking advantage of our strong network including property agents and mortgage brokers, we offer comprehensive solutions to meet our clients' needs," Dr Sze says.

Eyeing the increasing number of high-net-worth individuals in the area, Midland is setting up a branch in Chongqing, a fast-growing economic zone with a population of 30 million, in addition to its existing presence in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

In preparation for the expansion, the company is working on promoting its brand name in China. "We are not only promoting the company and our products," Dr Sze points out. "Our target customers will also learn more about wealth management by reading about us."

He predicts that Midland's mainland originated business will overtake its local portfolio within two to three years and says it is important to get a head start in the emerging market with quality people. To foster adequate talent for the company's rapid growth, Midland adopts a "train the trainers" strategy by sharing expertise among its different locations and Dr Sze says this approach helps to ensure effective communication between branches.

Experienced staff members now working in Beijing will be transferred to the new Chongqing branch and a large pool of candidates are currently vying for other positions. "Besides Putonghua, employees should equip themselves with an in-depth knowledge of the place. Both are essential for good communication with customers," Dr Sze concludes.

Taken from Career Times 26 October 2007, p. A10
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