Wealth management is a concept with which many of us have become familiar in the last few years. As more people have focused on planning carefully for future financial needs, the industry has undoubtedly taken off.
Nowadays, it provides excellent career opportunities at various levels for professionals equipped to advise clients on how to structure their investments and maximise their returns.
Foreseeing these developments, managing director Dave Kwan set up Centaline Wealth Management Limited in September 2003. He already had more than 10 years' experience in the sector, having monitored major portfolios for financial institutions like Morgan Stanley. "As the Hong Kong economy picked up, the general public became far more aware of the need for wealth management, so the Centaline group decided to diversify into this area," Mr Kwan says.
He adds that clients now have more investment options, including stocks listed in the mainland or overseas, which now attract a lot of interest. "People have also realised the importance of combining different investment tools for long-term savings and other needs since the implementation of the MPF," he says.
Mr Kwan notes that a successful wealth management business depends on good sales. Therefore, he has high expectations of his own team. "In our field, sales offers people the chance to make good money but, to be frank, not everyone can do so because it is also a tough job," he explains. Compared to other professions, success depends less on experience and more on personality and having a sizeable network of contacts who can become clients
Centaline generally looks for candidates who are outgoing and interested in finance. With that basis, they are likely to have the right attitude for the job. Subsequent promotions will be then determined by hitting sales targets and achieving other performance-related measures, rather than by time served with the company.
Mr Kwan is confident the industry will continue to prosper, but thinks one underlying problem will be the shortage of personnel. "There is insufficient sales talent in the field and, as demand grows, competition for good people will intensify," he says.
With banks now offering a wide range of wealth management services, that adds an extra element. They are selling not only investment products but also their brands. "However, comparatively speaking, IFAs (independent financial advisers) like ourselves are able to offer much higher incentives for employees, which mean they have the potential to earn much more," he says.
Mr Kwan adds that the door to the world of wealth management is always open for people with ability. "If anyone with experience at other IFAs, or in banking and finance, wants a career change, we are always ready to give them a chance," he says.