Sincerity is key for wealth management practitioners wanting to build fruitful long-term relationships with their clients.
Forging this kind of trusting bond is even more challenging in the absence of face-to-face interaction, as Loretta Chim, relationship manager, Citibank Global Consumer Group Hong Kong, knows all too well.
"Since the majority of my customers live outside of Hong Kong, I do not meet with them regularly, probably twice or three times a year during their stay in Hong Kong. Therefore, effective communication skills are essential, and I need to communicate with them concisely, accurately and within a certain timeframe via different channels such as the telephone and email. This is how I build a trusting relationship with them," she says.
Since many customers are still coming to terms with the aftermath of the global financial crisis, Ms Chim works even harder to sustain contact and effective interaction through remote channels of communication, she adds.
Ms Chim does not see the lack of personal contact as an impediment — she maintains a positive attitude and strives to deliver unbeatable customer service and a high level of professionalism. "Attentive listening is essential, and I put in extra effort to touch base with my clients regularly," she stresses.
Understandably, verbal communication skills are vital in her role. Ms Chim points out, "I ensure that they can feel my sincerity and a caring attitude through conversations over the phone. I express my sincerity and genuine desire to gain an understanding of my customers' needs in order to help them realise their financial goals."
Ms Chim started her banking career as a Citigold associate. Previous experience in customer service stands her in good stead and places her in an ideal position to better understand her clients' needs. "It is important for us to maintain the highest standards. As long as we provide honest and heartfelt assistance, we will be able to nurture customer relationships and this will eventually pay dividends," she notes.
In fact, Ms Chim's dedication and skills have been recognised, earning her one of three finalist places in the group A category of this year's Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards.
One aspect that she worked hard on to improve for the competition was her presentation skills.
"My line manager and colleagues attended my rehearsals for the final presentation, scrutinising every detail to help me fine-tune my delivery techniques. Their feedback was constructive and invaluable. At first, they felt that the presentation came across as a bit dull, so I worked particularly on improving my tone of voice and style," she recalls.
Previous Citibank award winners also came along and shared their experience of the competition and its requirements, giving Ms Chim an extra boost.
The bank's comprehensive training and continuous development programme already equipped Ms Chim with the necessary professional skills. She explains, "New recruits receive two months' induction training, covering all the soft and hard skills needed."
She adds that the bank recently implemented a "customer delight training programme" to improve service delivery and help lift customers' spirits regarding the current market sentiment. In line with customer needs, the bank chooses a specific development theme every year in response to the changing investment environment.
While the HKIB awards challenged all aspects of her professionalism, Ms Chim found that the experience confirmed her passion for the industry. "Participating in the competition made me aware of the very high standards for drawing up a financial plan. It was also a great platform for me to learn from others in the field," she says.
To enhance technical competence and fulfil stricter industry requirements, Ms Chim underscores the importance of pursuing further professional qualifications. "It is essential for us to keep abreast of market changes," she concludes.
- Build sincere and trusting customer relationships
- Ongoing training enhances soft and hard skills
- Pursue professional qualifications
- Industry competition boosts confidence and skills