As the economy improves and members of the public consider new ways to invest, competition is heating up among local financial institutions both for business and for hiring the best professionals in the sector. In order to take advantage of the current sentiment of confidence, they are restructuring their business models and offering a greater variety of products, services and investment platforms. Consequently, anyone working in the industry now has an unprecedented range of opportunities to build a career which promises challenges and rewards.
According to Dennis Wong, managing director of the financial planning and premier relationship departments at CASH Financial Services Group (CFSG), wealth management is a fast expanding area in which banks and financial institutions are competing to meet the ever-changing needs of customers. "Clients now have highly sophisticated demand for the range of products, variety of communication channels, and the professional qualifications of customer service officers," he says. As clients generally expect to discuss comprehensive wealth management plans for all their investment needs, providers must also have the flexibility and the range of products to cover everything.
"We have a fully integrated platform that utilises our financial planning division (FPD) and premier relationship division (PRD) to provide the most suitable plans for clients," Mr Wong notes. The former is for long-term financial needs, such as retirement funds and trust formation, while the latter focuses on shorter-term financial instruments such as securities and warrants. Clients can obtain advice on investment strategy and CFSG regards this synergy between departments as a major strength, enabling advisers to devise the best investment solutions, spanning from short to long term.
In addition, with various communication channels and an online platform for trading, CFSG's clients can track data, give instructions, and revise their investment decisions according to the latest market news. "Our competitive edge lies in our access to top quality products from financial institutions around the globe and the ability to make objective recommendations," Mr Wong says.
In parallel with the development of PRD and FPD, there has been an increasing demand for high-calibre employees who possess the right qualifications and personal attributes. "We look for candidates with a proactive character, and have noticed that many fresh graduates are already equipped with professional qualifications, such as those from the Hong Kong Securities Institute," Mr Wong adds.
The company's view is that the next few years may prove to be a critical period of economic development and expansion. "The greatest challenge will be to keep pace with these developments and stay ahead of the competition," Mr Wong says.
In his opinion, if local financial institutions are to succeed, they will need to have a global perspective and access to products from international financial markets. This will allow advisers to offer tailor-made solutions to individual clients rather than generic products or services.
"We will continue to utilise global options designed to meet the short-term investment and long-term protection needs of clients, so that they can achieve their financial objectives throughout their lives," adds Mr Wong.
He says that professionalism will be key to the future development of the financial services sector. Industry professionals will have to keep pace with the latest trends in global markets and acquire extra knowledge through regular skills training and continuous education. "As an increasing number of practitioners obtain qualifications like the CFA or the CFP certification, the level of professionalism in the industry will be further enhanced," he concludes.
- Wealth management clients nowadays expect independent financial advisers to be well qualified and able to discuss the full range of investment options
- Online platforms and a variety of communication channels allow easy access to the latest financial data
- High-calibre candidates with the right qualifications and personal attributes are much in demand
- It is essential to build close client relationships and to have the ability to create financial plans that cover short-term and long-term objectives.