Money Moves

Online platforms add value for brokers

by Nicole Wong

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

Dickie Wong, associate director, Friedmann Pacific Investment Holdings Limited
Photo: Edde Ngan

In the face of greater competition from the retail banking sector, local securities firms are looking to maintain their market share by increasing the range of products and services on offer. Indeed some, referring to themselves as "value brokers", are now providing investment solutions which combine the traditional strengths and lower commission rates of established securities houses with the convenience of new investment platforms and tailor-made market advice.

Among such companies, Friedmann Pacific Investment Holdings Limited (FPI) is poised to establish itself as the "value broker for valued investors". As Dickie Wong, the firm's associate director explains, "We are actively expanding by developing our online trading platform, account executives and research department. We are confident of providing clients with the fastest and most reliable services."

These moves reflect the latest trends in local brokerage management. Nowadays, most investors aim to build portfolios which include both short and long-term financial products and need the very best advice. While banks may have a potentially larger client base, brokerages can still maintain their competitive edge by developing new investment platforms and providing personalised services for individual clients.

"As a securities firm with an independent research department, we offer tailor-made investment solutions that range from stocks and exchange-traded funds to warrants," Mr Wong notes. "In strengthening our online trading platform and workforce, we are looking to attract more clients and create new business opportunities."

To handle this new business, FPI has added frontline staff. The expansion of the sales force has been supported by an increased emphasis on training and development, which is being overseen by the company's sales director. "To succeed in our industry, it is essential to focus on customer service, since that is what can make a real difference for clients," says Mr Wong.

In order to continue expanding, FPI is now looking for more recruits keen to succeed in the industry. Graduates with degrees in business, finance or accounting can join as customer service representatives, while anyone with professional qualifications, such as those administered by the Hong Kong Securities Institute, can begin as an investment service representative. Obtaining further qualifications, like the chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation, should be seen as a medium to long-term goal. For those who show aptitude and dedication, there is every chance to ascend to supervisor, manager and associate director positions.

Mr Wong advises anyone looking to break into the business to adopt a proactive attitude and carefully research the background of any company they are interested in joining. "One good way of doing that it is to visit the company as a potential customer. In that way, you can acquire a lot of information about the company and its business,'' Mr Wong says. "This gives you a chance to really learn about them and to make a winning impression on the management if you get an interview later on."

Taken from Career Times 12 August 2005, p. A2
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