chief executive officer
Integrity Partnership Limited
Photo: Edde Ngan
New business platform allows insurance professionals to thrive
Hong Kong people have become much more aware of the importance of long-term financial planning in the decade since the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) was first launched.
At the same time, investors are faced with a growing number of financial services providers and are conscious of the need to choose practitioners that are highly professional and have a proven track record.
Integrity is a new group of experienced insurance experts that aims to provide clients with unsurpassed service levels. Established in January this year, the entity is a joint venture between AXA China Region Insurance Company Limited and a team of Hong Kong-based insurance professionals.
The company's franchise model provides financial advisers with a platform to enhance their careers and be accountable for their own enterprises, while providing quality planning advice.
Although the wealth management sector has grown rapidly over the past 10 years, the biggest hurdle facing the industry is the traditional product- and sales-driven model, says Denny Chan, chief executive officer, Integrity Partnership Limited.
"It's time to change standards so that we can move towards a more customer-centric model that is tuned to investors' needs and meets their long-term financial goals," he says.
Mr Chan, who has more than 24 years' experience in the life insurance industry, believes the new business rationale will set a new service benchmark for the industry and create a positive force for practitioners to achieve their long-term professional goals.
Integrity's new model offers unprecedented "guaranteed advice" to customers. Advisers provide suitable advice through a comprehensive fact finding process to understand customers' needs and financial goals. The company also developed a "Customer Charter" that provides guidelines on how advisers should conduct themselves when managing clients' financial resources and assessing their risk tolerance. Mr Chan explains: "The charter also describes what the company does to support our planners to deliver guaranteed advisory services that meet clients' expectations."
Instead of relying solely on investments to accumulate wealth, investors are increasingly looking for ways to manage risk while working towards long-tem financial goals. Integrity advisers therefore keep records of clients' needs and risk-tolerance analysis results under its quality assurance programme. "We stress the importance of gaining a thorough understanding of what customers need and of making clients aware of exactly what it is that they are buying," Mr Chan says.
The financial planners use the information they obtain from their clients, as well as AXA's wide range of investment products, to create personalised investment portfolios for them. He adds, "We guarantee a quality advisory service based on stringent compliance with industry regulations, as well as a clear and transparent communication process. Our structure therefore provides the foundation for trusting relationships between our advisers and investors."
Although the franchise business model is relatively new to Hong Kong's wealth management industry, it has been widely adopted in developed countries such as the UK, the US and Australia.
The model allows advisers to work with Integrity as business partners. They retain responsibility for their own revenues and clients, while the company offers a business platform, providing product, administration, marketing and training support. "The financial planners run their own enterprises with a strong sense of ownership and accountability," Mr Chan notes.
While conceding that the traditional insurance model pressurises practitioners to achieve sales targets, Mr Chan is confident that the entrepreneurship model allows committed planners to develop trusting relations with investors and that this ultimately benefits customers.
"As their ventures grow, they're free to team up with partners or to employ assistants to further expand their enterprises. More excitingly, they can sell their businesses back to Integrity when they retire or decide to move on," Mr Chan remarks. "The franchise model supports people who are truly committed to the wealth management industry. In return, we get a highly competent and professional team of entrepreneurs who work in the best interests of customers."
The company is looking for experienced and professional financial advisers who share Integrity's values and commitment to join the new team. With the demand for financial and retirement planning services on the increase, Mr Chan expects the new model to draw in many more talented professionals as it develops and becomes more mature.
Planning for the future
- Joint venture provides financial advisers a platform to enhance their careers
- Business model allows for quality, customer-oriented planning advice
- Customer Charter offers guidelines on how advisers should conduct themselves
- Financial planners have access to a wide range of investment products
Taken from Career Times 9 July 2010, A6