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Career Path

Managing the assets in your career

by Melinda Earsdon

Financial Consultant
Henry Shin,
Associate Director,
Convoy Financial Services Ltd

The title 'financial consultant' can be used to describe many different functions, and can often be misleading. It normally means that the person on the other end of the phone is trying his very best to sell you a pension plan or life insurance. However Henry Shin, Associate Director of Convoy Financial Services Ltd, is a financial planner who specializes in managing your wealth using investment tools.

Henry Shin's first job was as a management trainee with a jewelry company. "The boss offered me a salary raise after my probation period, but instead I decided to resign," he says smiling. "I found it very boring and it wasn't for me. I always wanted to be a businessman, so decided to give finance a shot." He joined Convoy as a trainee in 1998 and moved up through the ranks to financial consultant, senior financial consultant and associate until he reached his current position in just two years.

Mr Shin's duties today are basically two-fold. He manages his team of 40 consultants and looks after existing clients. He is responsible for conducting team meetings twice a week to review market information and introduce new products to his consultants. These meetings double as brainstorming sessions where consultants examine individual case studies and identify the most appropriate financial products for clients. Financial planning companies place high emphasis on client requirements as no two individuals have the same investment needs, so these sessions are crucial to the company's success. In addition to this, he spends time going on client meetings with junior consultants and organizing training sessions and workshops.

Mr Shin explains, "The Chinese way has always been for children to look after their parents when they are old, but this isn't really feasible in today's market. One man is responsible for both his parents and those of his wife, and as such he needs to ensure he has the funds available. Managing wealth and investing in financial products is a way to retain enough money for everyone, including himself when he is old."


"You need to have initiative to do well in this industry but you also need to be disciplined, willing to learn and overcome challenges"

As the people of Hong Kong are starting to recognize the need to plan for the future, they are looking for investment tools, which achieve financial security, instead of traditional pension products. While many people have a certain amount to invest, they might not know how to manage the money they have, to provide the best returns. This makes financial consult-ancy a good choice in terms of career opportunities, as there will always be a demand for sound financial advice.

So what do you have to do to become a financial consultant? Budding executives need to have a degree, preferably in a finance-related subject. Following this, there are three Insurance Intermediaries Qualifying examinations that every consultant must pass. In addition, individuals need to be recognized as Investment Representative by the Hong Kong Securities Institute. But that's not all. Mr Shin believes, "You need to have initiative to do well in this industry but you also need to be disciplined, willing to learn and overcome challenges."

The industry has obviously been hit by the economic downturn, but financial planning companies are in a good position to help people plan for the future and make sure they are not affected too much. What people are buying into with a financial planning or consultancy company is an ongoing service designed to re-evaluate requirements in response to market changes. In addition, financial consultants have a strong understanding of the market and are constantly exposed to new products such as hedge funds.

Despite the fact that Hong Kong has seen many small financial planning and consultancy companies go to the wall recently, Mr Shin doesn't seem concerned about the economy. He quotes the UK as a model, where 70 per cent of clients use four companies to manage their wealth. "I think we'll see that here too," he says. "The downturn just makes things more challenging that's all."

China Opportunities

According to Mr Shin, the China market is ripe for development. As China opens up and the economy grows, so will the need for good financial consultants and asset management companies. "In addition, the first generation of children after the one-child policy was introduced are now grown up and it has suddenly occurred to people that this is going to have a huge impact on the standard of living of the old." He continues, "As such, Hong Kong executives are in demand on the mainland, due to their knowledge of both products and technology. Salaries are obviously lower than here in Hong Kong, but usually similar in terms of living costs."


Figures for reference only   K='000

Taken from Career Times 29 November 2002, p. 26

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