Money Moves

Long-term view for financial planners

by Priscilla Chong

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

Samuel Leung, chief executive officer, Venhouse Financial Planning Ltd
Photo: Johnny Kwok

The essential difference between financial planning and wealth management is that they relate to different stages of life. "When you are young, you will need financial planning to provide for any liabilities and build up some assets," explains Samuel Leung, chief executive officer of Venhouse Financial Planning Ltd. "Later on, you will need wealth management to protect, increase and pass on the assets you have accumulated."

Nowadays, independent financial advisers (IFAs), insurance companies and banks are all expanding and offering financial services which can appear similar. Mr Leung points out, however, that since IFAs source products from different fund houses and insurance companies, they have a much wider product range and can offer impartial advice to clients.

He adds that anyone working as an IFA should concentrate on building a long-term career, not making quick money. The sector is highly competitive and requires hard work and dedication. "Candidates should know this is a marketing-related job, be self-motivated, realise that rewards are related to effort, and manage their time well," he says.

Appropriate training is provided for all newcomers and starts with the company's "KASH" theory. This stands for knowledge of products and sales techniques, attitude aligned in a positive way with the company and the industry, skill in sales and customer service, and the habit of being disciplined and productive to achieve the maximum each day. A one-month induction course is followed by on-the-job training and continuing professional development programmes run with the Hong Kong Securities Institute and the Vocational Training Council.

"We understand the greatest worry for newcomers is not having enough clients, so we help them with suggestions on how to be proactive," Mr Leung says. As it can be difficult to earn sufficient commission in the first few months, the company may offer allowances to ensure adequate income for new recruits.

The main job responsibilities for IFAs include understanding clients' needs, checking investment profiles, drafting plans, advising on suitable products, and conducting regular reviews. Those who do well can expect promotion and to benefit from more generous commission schemes. There will also be the opportunity to build up and manage a sales team and to handle more clients as a result.

When recruiting, Venhouse prefers to hire graduates, but Mr Leung stresses that academic qualifications are not the only consideration. Form Five school leavers with work experience are also taken on, especially if they can show the ability to get on well with clients. All recruits are required to obtain the necessary MPF and insurance licences and to pass three papers set by the Securities and Futures Commission if they are to give investment advice.

As the financial planning sector has evolved in recent years, IFAs must now be equipped to handle retirement and estate planning. Since more senior consultants also have to keep pace with industry changes and be up-to-date with all relevant regulations, the company will consider subsidising exam fees and external courses so that employees can remain aware of trends and achieve personal growth.

Taken from Career Times 23 September 2005, p. A2
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