Money Moves

Right choice for the career-minded

by Priscilla Chong

Stanley Chow, senior vice president, personal portfolio consulting group, Winterthur Life (Hong Kong) Limited
Photo: Ringo Lee

The first step for anyone intent on building a long-term career in the financial services sector is to find an employer which has broadly the same goals and values. When recruiting, companies adopt much the same strategy. They look for the few candidates out of potentially hundreds of applicants who best fit the "brand" and have the qualities to handle the requirements of the working environment.

Stanley Chow, senior vice president of the personal portfolio consulting group (PPCG) of Winterthur Life (Hong Kong) Limited, says that candidate profiling and a stringent recruitment procedure help to ensure that the most suitable applicants are chosen.

He notes that the initial thing is to identify people with similar values who also show a commitment to career development. "Professionalism is a top priority and we always hire for quality not quantity," Mr Chow says.

All new recruits are expected to undertake an intensive training and development programme. This teaches the fundamental skills needed by financial consultants and leads on to various professional designations.

Different training modules cover investment products, communication skills, questioning techniques, sales and negotiation skills, and ethics. Classroom sessions and role-plays are used to keep things relevant and interesting.

On-the-job training follows, with the focus switching to sales psychology and buyer motivation. Teams discuss a range of case studies, allowing recruits to gain in confidence and understand the kind of problems that may come up during the sales process.

Mr Chow says that the company's "3R" management philosophy underpins the whole recruitment and training process. "We recruit, reward and retain the best," he explains. Besides getting an attractive basic salary, consultants receive an allowance for business development, and subsidies to study for their professional examinations. Monthly and annual performance-related bonuses are on offer, as well as long-term business bonuses.

"With all the layers of the compensation package, each consultant can earn a very attractive income," Mr Chow notes. "Some have reached HK$1 million in total compensation in just their second year."

A well-structured career development programme is the key to staff retention. This also helps to motivate employees and shows them what it takes to move up the career ladder. "A new hire can usually become a senior portfolio consultant within six months, and assistant manager within a year of joining," Mr Chow says. "They can then decide to build their own sales teams or to concentrate on generating sales and serving clients."

With a view to assessing quality candidates, Winterthur's PPCG will organise a recruitment seminar on August 12 at the Novotel Century Hotel in Wanchai. "We provide all consultants with the tools necessary for a successful career, which is why we are growing so fast and are able to attract so many talented people," Mr Chow adds.

Taken from Career Times 11 August 2006, p. A2
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