It is not essential to have a business or finance-related degree in order to achieve success in the wealth management sector.
The careers of Mark Chui, vice president; and Joey Lo, senior financial planning manager, Centaline Financial Services Limited (CFSL), demonstrate this.
Mr Chui was a social worker for more than a decade before he decided to make his career shift to the wealth management profession. He and Ms Lo, who is armed with a degree in mathematics from the University of Hong Kong, have both excelled in their three years with CFSL due to a personal drive, commitment and passion for their new careers as financial consultants.
Hard work always pays dividends. Mr Chui and Ms Lo were both recipients of the 41st Distinguished Salesperson Awards (DSA) jointly organised by the Hong Kong Management Association and the Sales and Marketing Executives Club of Hong Kong. The award aims to recognise successful salespeople and their achievements, improve the quality of salesmanship and advance the image of the profession.
CFSL encourages its staff to participate in DSA as a way of boosting professional confidence. The company's nominees were coached by previous awardees. "We learned a lot through intensive training sessions prior to the event. Our trainers made use of role playing exercises to put things into contexts and gave us tips for escalating our performances," Ms Lo recalls.
She adds that the competition process was an invaluable learning opportunity. "We were given ample opportunities to put our skills to the test during training. All participants were playing the dual-role of mentor and mentee, advising others while receiving comments for further improvement. This gave us a creative platform to thrive," she says.
To help new recruits lay a strong foundation for future accomplishments, CFSL has well in place a comprehensive range of in-house training and development programmes that impart the basics of wealth management.
"The notion of wealth management goes beyond the monetary terms. Rather, it's more about building trust," notes Mr Chui.
"I enjoy meeting and assisting people from all walks of life," he says, advising people thinking of changing careers to look at more than just popular employment trends. "Be sure that you are passionate about your choice of profession and be practical. Assess the risk before you take the plunge."
CFSL stresses the importance of training for its consultants at all levels. For instance, the company holds regular seminars and workshops to enhance product knowledge and selling techniques. Other training sessions complement professional skills such as customer service, all resulting in enhanced professional consultancy services and customised solutions further down the line.
The company's structured staff development schemes, which start with generic training followed by on-the-job experiences, are tailored to individual backgrounds and personality traits. "Investment consultancy is a people business after all," Mr Chui notes.
"Everyone is unique, and every individual's potential should be harnessed in a different way. In this regard, personal coaching is indispensable," says Sinbio Wong, a CFSL sales director who is also team head of Mr Chui.
Mr Wong believes that guidance is key to nurturing successful consultants. "I encourage members of my team to learn about the product by trying it themselves and keep abreast of the constant change in the fast-paced market. My personal motto for success is the three H's, which stand for heart, hard work and humility."
"New recruits should have an understanding of what they want to achieve in the pursuit of a rewarding career. And if they don't, we can help them identify and develop their competence and ultimately confirm their aspirations," says Kavis Ip, a CFSL vice president, who is currently supervising the development of Ms Lo.
Ms Ip notes that successful consultants should have a definite interest in wealth management, as well as a keen understanding of the field. "They must also believe in what they do, have great social and communication skills and credibility."
The wealth management profession welcomes candidates from diverse backgrounds. "To make a career change, people need to start from the beginning and build a solid foundation. You might think a social worker and a financial consultant are completely different, but there are a lot of similarities between the two. For instance, both need excellent communication and social skills. These are the requirements that apply to most careers," Ms Ip says.
Mr Wong remarks that CFSL staff development remains a company priority. "Our ultimate goal has always been to facilitate professional growth for all our people," he adds. "This industry provides a good platform for aspiring individuals to prove their abilities," he emphasises.