Putting client interests first
by Grace Chan
In response to positive market sentiments, financial services firm Phillip Securities (HK) has launched its first broker trainee programme to attract university graduates to the profession.
A member of PhillipCapital, founded in Singapore in1975, Phillip Securities (HK) boasts a wide portfolio of services ranging from securities to futures, options, foreign currency, unit trusts, commodities, bullion trading, asset management, insurance, investor education and investment research.
This year, the company is looking to recruit a total of 100 brokers including those for its trainee programme as well as experienced professionals. "We've already hired about 50 in the first six months," says Crystal Wong, manager, business development department, Phillip Securities (HK) Ltd.
The entry requirement for a broker trainee is a university degree in economics, finance, law or accounting. Prospective recruits must also pass the Licensing Examination for Securities and Futures Intermediaries.
Apart from academic and professional qualifications, candidates must have a genuine interest in the industry and the right attitude to the job, adds Stanley Ma, senior branch manager, Phillip Securities.
In an effort to maintain a competitive edge, the company emphasises staff training to ensure excellent client service. All trainee brokers undergo a three-week induction programme followed by six months of on-the-job training, which covers technical knowledge and skills, product overviews and sales and servicing skills.
"We also assign senior staff as mentors to help trainees develop their professional acumen and confidence, share their practical experience and familiarise them with daily trading operations," Ms Wong points out.
Trainees benefit from daily morning briefing sessions, as well as from comprehensive, practical on-the-job training to enhance their financial analysis skills and performance on the trading platform. Also on the agenda are training programmes that aim at boosting client servicing and communication competence.
Experienced professionals also receive ongoing training, which in turn focuses on examining client needs and keeping them abreast of the latest market trends. "Through continuous learning, our brokers develop good financial knowledge and receive wide exposure to different markets, enabling them to provide clients with the optimal professional advice," she says.
The company's comprehensive one-stop online trading platform, which evolved from its initial Phillips Online Electronic Mart System (POEMS), allows investors to expand their stakes around the world.
"Our diversified business portfolio sets us apart, because our clients can trade in securities and commodities not only in Hong Kong, but also in the US, Japan and Singapore," says Mr Ma. "We're also the only securities house in Hong Kong with a licence to offer grey market trading."
In 2007, the company launched an online platform, PhillipMart, recognised by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), to enable initial public offering (IPO) trading before companies are listed.
With online trading platforms steadily gaining popularity, Mr Ma believes long-term client relationships still make all the difference. "Brokers should have outgoing personalities, exceptional communication skills and a knack for dealing with people, since the job requires them to approach clients proactively and establish their own customer networks," he stresses.
Integrity is paramount in the financial services industry. "The profession calls for a keen interest in continuous learning and hard work. Practitioners need to keep honing their technical and soft skills," points out Mr Ma.
Phillip Securities currently employs 460 frontline brokers across its eight branches. This extensive and accessible network helps the brokers to extend their reach and increase their client base.
Brokers are supported by a dedicated in-house research team and have access to daily market updates, both through the morning briefing sessions and the company's intranet. "They're in a position to initiate conversations with their clients at any time and present them with the most up-to-date investment analysis. This helps foster long-term, trusting client relations," says Mr Ma.
The company's brokers are able to maintain stable earnings, regardless of volatility in the financial markets, he notes. "When the local stock market is sluggish, as it is currently, they have the flexibility to recommend other products, such as overseas securities, foreign currency or even gold bullion."
Despite the global uncertainty clouding the local markets, Mr Ma is optimistic about an overall rosy outlook for the second half of this year. "As happened last year, the credit crisis in Europe should subside, generating more opportunities than risks for investors," he concludes.
Taken from Career Times 25 June 2010, A2
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