Many people invest a great deal of time and effort in developing a career that doesn't pay dividends. Winston Choi is not one of them.
After completing a bachelor degree in economics (accounting) at Sydney University in Australia in 1994, Mr Choi returned to Hong Kong and swiftly landed himself a coveted position in the audit department at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). He worked hard and soon became a senior auditor. After four years at the firm, he left, taking with him a solid base of experience in accounting and financial management. Building on the knowledge he had learnt, Mr Choi continued to pursue a career in the finance industry where he was faced with many options.
Mr Choi worked in warrants sales in Societe Generale's equities department and then spent six years in the equities derivatives department at BNP Paribas, where he became a director. "I enjoy talking with people and so I believed that sales would be the thing for me," he says, explaining his move.
Last year, Mr Choi joined the Asia Pacific Equity Derivatives department at Citi as head of warrants sales for Hong Kong. "Citi is a well-established brand with sufficient resources to grow the business. The company provides me with plenty of opportunities for further development," he says.
"You need sufficient support from the company"
As the leader of a team, Mr Choi requires good market sense, and the fortitude to always listen to others' opinions and respect their experience. "I must make sure that all members of the team work together, and move in the same direction, to achieve a common goal, which is to create a win-win situation for our clients and the company," he says. "We are placed in a results-driven business environment where we adhere to our roles and functions as part of a team. Only teamwork can move us forward and we must try to get every team member to participate and contribute."
In his position, Mr Choi is responsible for establishing the company's warrants business, Citiwarrants, and for orchestrating a range of investor education programmes. "As a socially responsible corporate citizen, Citi not only offers suitable financial products and services for clients, but also provides information to investors, facilitating a good understanding of the products so that they can make wise investment decisions," he says. "In the fast-changing market environment, we need to come up with new ideas and themes for every seminar and investor event we hold. We are dedicated to building and maintaining good relationships with participants."
A typical workday for Mr Choi begins at seven o'clock with a morning briefing held by the bank's research team. Meetings with brokers, traders, business partners, customers and internal staff follow. "In this line of business, the ability in communicating effectively with all these parties is essential," he says. "We must get them involved so as to devise, implement, review and adjust our business and marketing strategies."
Mr Choi believes that there is plenty of room for fresh graduates to get into the industry. "The market environment is good," he says. "Banking and finance institutions are expanding their business." He cautions, though, that young people should take a long-term view and be selective when choosing a career platform. "This job is very much sales-related and you need sufficient support from the company," he says. "You must also like what you do, and be dedicated to serving your company and your clients."
With all of this in mind, Mr Choi says, warrants sales — and the industry as a whole — is a viable option for proactive university graduates. "If you are intelligent, motivated and competent, you can be sure of a good career ahead of you."