Money Moves

People skills open doors

by Sophie Leung

Carmen Wong, chief operating officer
Midland Financial Group
Photo: Edde Ngan

It is a given that professionals such as psychologists, social workers and teachers need to be compassionate and able to identify with others' situations or feelings. It is these qualities that enable them to reach out to those in need. One independent financial advisory (IFA) company believes that it is also important for its own frontline team to be made up of mature individuals with empathy for their clients.

"We put ourselves in our clients' shoes so as to truly understand their financial requirements and to offer sound advice," says Carmen Wong, chief operating officer, Midland Financial Group. "We expect our advisors to appreciate client needs at different stages of their lives, including marriage, parenthood and retirement."

To meet changing customer expectations, the group is in the process of recruiting 50 to 100 ambitious frontline consultants to join its workforce. "We will be launching an innovative new product designed to help relieve the stress of mortgage repayments, and we have a huge demand for motivated professionals to assist with our expansion plans," Ms Wong explains.

Midland's planned recruitment activities include an IFA recruitment seminar. At the event, expert financial consultant Agatha Fraser will deliver a presentation on market trends, competitive advantages and prospects for IFAs. In order to familiarise seminar-goers with the industry, the event will include introductory sessions to Midland, as well as addresses by practitioners discussing their work, challenges and rewards.

To make the most out of the event, recruitment stations will be set up, with opportunities for interviews. Midland recruitment staff will identify suitable candidates for the company's available positions, while on-site assessments and aptitude tests will help applicants assess whether they are suited to the industry, Ms Wong says.

"The target audience for the seminar is candidates with one or two years' work experience in banking and finance," she adds. "To land a job with us, you need a positive attitude, self-motivation and an open mindset."

New recruits must be prepared for an ongoing learning curve, as the company's financial advisors undergo comprehensive quarterly performance reviews. Midland offers a wide range of financial products, so frontline staff must take the initiative to continuously absorb new information to enable them to advise clients on the many new financial products that become available.

All new recruits undergo two to three weeks of training, where their sales techniques and client-needs assessment skills are sharpened. The training also equips them with the necessary knowledge of rules and regulations in the industry, while it develops their client skills, including empathy and understanding.

"Mature and sophisticated people tend to have compassion for people from all walks of life. Inevitably, these are the candidates most likely to succeed as professional financial advisors," concludes Ms Wong.

Taken from Career Times 19 September 2008, p. A6
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