Money Moves

Professionalism comes first

By Nicole Wong

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

T C Yeung, head of wealth management, ING Life Insurance Company (Bermuda) Limited
Photo: Roger Lee

Most people in Hong Kong are fully aware of the value of insurance policies as financial protection against possible risk, but comparatively few have yet realised how beneficial they can also be as one of the components in a comprehensive personal financial plan. This is likely to change as the financial planning sector takes off and the image of insurance agent as aggressive salesperson gives way to one of a consultant offering tailor-made advice for individual needs.

In promoting a professional image for the industry, ING Life Insurance Company (Bermuda) Limited already stands out as a company which puts its clients first. The commitment to quality service starts with a policy of wanting to recruit the best available talent and offering a range of products to meet changing market demand. Candidates who are goal-oriented and good communicators are usually preferred.

As T C Yeung, head of wealth management for ING Life says, "We look for high calibre consultants who can utilise proven financial concepts and strategies to understand our clients' needs for wealth preservation."

The company supports this philosophy with a solid staff training programme for its newly recruited wealth managers. All of them take an initial two-week course, the first lesson of which is the importance of serving clients with "heart". The remaining nine modules are then devoted to various aspects of a wealth manager's job, ranging from communication and marketing skills to product knowledge and financial analysis. Coaching continues in weekly meetings with senior managers and other seminars on market trends, product updates and advanced selling skills are organised on a weekly basis. Wealth managers are also encouraged to attend external courses and obtain professional qualifications such as that of Certified Financial PlannerCM (CFP).

Once wealth managers have the necessary skills and confidence to deal with clients, Mr Yeung emphasises that they must also be able to win trust and present a clear statement of the benefits of any financial plan. "Clients need to see the benefits of what a wealth manager can offer and understand the value of working with them," he notes. For this, wealth managers must be clear about their own positioning. They should be sure of their goals, how the company can help achieve them and have an idea of how they want their career to develop.

Mr Yeung admits that the business environment in the wealth management industry can be difficult, since people still perceive products as being forced upon them by over eager salespeople. While some providers do still look for quick sales, he recommends concentrating on comprehensive training that promotes the kind of professionalism which will make a more positive impact in the long run. "Many of the courses offered by the government or financial institutes are very well designed, and we highly support our wealth managers to pursue these courses to further enhance their competitiveness and professionalism in the industry," he adds.

For those looking to get into this business, Mr Yeung confirms that there are plenty of openings as a result of the public's increasing awareness of wealth management. "New recruits have to learn that communication is the key to success in today's industry. Clients expect everything to be explained clearly," he concludes.

Taken from Career Times 18 March 2005, p. 2
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