Money Moves

Masterminding the market

by Isabella Lee

Wealth management services now indispensable to ensure asset preservation

Michael Wong, head of direct financial services
Hang Seng Bank Limited
Photo: courtesy of HS Bank

Expanding financial assets has become increasingly precarious in Hong Kong of late as equities seesaw to extremes and inflation levels escalate upwards. In such a mercurial financial environment, retail investors can expect no concrete guarantees when attempting to preserve the value of their assets.

In the face of such uncertainty, people wishing to continue investing to augment established wealth are seeking the support of professional financial advisors who offer well-designed personalised banking coupled with premium levels of customer service.

Hang Seng Bank's direct financial services department (DFV) complements the bank's branch network to provide convenient wealth management services to all customers. While the majority of Hang Seng's investors enjoy face-to-face transactions in branches, the DFV is more flexibly organised to better serve clients by positioning experts where clients prefer.

Anytime anywhere

"The department's mission is to offer risk management solutions in the most professional manner to serve customers whenever and wherever possible. To achieve this, we have our team of personal financial planning managers (PFPMs) to help clients identify their current and future financial needs through detailed analysis, and establish comprehensive financial plans for them," says Michael Wong, head of direct financial services, Hang Seng Bank Limited.

In order to enhance the comprehensive scope of financial services for an expanding clientele, Hang Seng Bank is now seeking PFPM recruits looking to develop their careers in a profession that requires expertise in both bancassurance and financial planning.

"To become a veritable bancassurance expert, PFPM candidates must have the passion to strive for perfection in developing a life-long profession and be devoted to improving their sales career," Mr Wong further points out.

With the recruitment principle of "hire behaviour and attitude; train whatever" in mind, the bank looks for key attributes of successful team players in the field: competitiveness, persistence, energy and independence. The interpretation of the word "independence" is that employees believe their career success or failure is purely a consequence of their conscious choice of action.

According to Mr Wong, applicants who possess such qualities will always be the top performers and the bank is most willing to provide a supportive work environment to assist these people in achieving success. New team members with less relevant working experience join the company as PFPM I.

To reinforce the performance management culture of the organisation, Hang Seng Bank's human resources department has specially designed a fast promotion track to recognise the contributions of PFPMs who have excelled in their field.

Unlike in traditional banking positions, if their performance is impressive, promotion possibilities to PFPM II, and then PFPM III, arise rapidly.

For serving team members who demonstrate management potential, the bank will further support development, grooming staff to become members of the management team (such as deputy manager of personal financial planning) in as little as two years. Eventually, suitable talents are promoted to executive level (such as manager of personal financial planning) leading a team of 18 to 20 PFPMs.

Performance pays

Under the bank's performance management system, all productive results contributed by PFPMs are rewarded in an equitable and consistent manner. Team accolades incorporate individuals' sales efforts and pay rises reaching double digits are often granted annually. In addition, PFPMs can benefit from substantial sales incentives every quarter, alongside the standard staff retirement scheme, medical benefits and a low-interest-rate home loan.

"Sharing overall success with our employees by offering attractive bonuses is only one of our incentive measures. Apart from monetary rewards, the bank also offers a network of support for staff, which facilitates their overall career progress. We never underestimate the potential benefits of investing in professionals, and evidence of our willingness and commitment to this end is ubiquitous at Hang Seng Bank," Mr Wong notes.

The training and development department of the bank has devoted professionals to provide comprehensive financial and product knowledge, sales, and customer servicing skills training as well as helping PFPMs understand and adopt the bank's culture from day one.

After the first month of service, new PFPMs become familiarised with the team's sales process, procedures and practical skills through the comprehensive development programme conducted by the DFV. On-the-job training with mentors is arranged to support every new member during the whole orientation period, which is generally completed within three months.

Furthermore, to promote professionalism and ongoing development, all Hang Seng Bank's PFPMs are encouraged to participate in the Certified Financial Management PlannerTM programme jointly organised by the bank, the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School. The programme is an ideal learning forum to improve overall understanding and practise of operations in the banking industry.

Taken from Career Times 15 February 2008, p. A2
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