Money Moves

Shift gear into career fast lanes

by Charles Mak

This is a special edition outlining career trends in financial planning

Top independent financial advisory offers elevated platforms for a change of pace

(from left to right) Kevin Keung, Dominic Sin, Stephen Yuen, Henry Shin, Bernard Poon, deputy directors
Anthony Lau, associate director, consultancy division
Convoy Financial Services Limited
Photo: Wallace Chan

While the majority of people confine their professional development to the archetypal corporate hierarchy, the wise and aspiring choose otherwise and are quick to secure both their financial and career futures. This is particularly true in the independent financial advisory (IFA) industry where opportunities abound.

"Whatever the industry, a huge number of middle managers get trapped in a bottleneck or even find themselves up a blind alley. Conversely, it takes merely two years for our financial consultants to become associate directors," says Henry Shin, deputy director, consultancy division, Convoy Financial Services Limited. "In our line of business, promotion depends on acumen and definitely not vacancies."

Mr Shin emphasises that people who aim high, disregarding their current positions, can achieve high. "If you have the guts to make the career shift, you'll have a chance to win," he adds. "It's not about leaving your comfort zone, but rather you expand it and find in it a wealth of possibilities."

Different genre

Hong Kong's leading IFA and accredited "Best Employers in Hong Kong 2007" by Hewitt Associates, Convoy's business portfolio encompasses wealth management, personal financing, saving solutions, offshore financial arrangement, portfolio optimisation and trust services, forming a comprehensive development platform for aspiring elite gauging the best career results.

Convoy's Affinity team comprises more than 500 top-notch professionals and 300 more are expected onboard this year. "We encourage team work and endeavour to create synergy and build rapport," remarks Dominic Sin, a deputy director from Convoy's consultancy division.

Besides a comprehensive range of skill, knowledge and mindset training, the Affinity team supports their new members, offers up-close and personal care and assist them in attaining necessary qualifications and licences. "The bigger the team the more resourceful you will be even if you're new to the field," Mr Sin says.

Backup support is manifold and always at hand. This, in particular, helps new recruits settle down to the new and exciting environment in no time. For example, associate directors or associates take the role of mentors, helping new recruits accomplish an array of tasks during their initial six months on the job.

"More than 30 Affinity associate directors are committed to nurturing new blood because human capital is our most valuable asset," says Stephen Yuen, who is also a deputy director of the consultancy division. "It has always been our philosophy not to train up consultants. Instead, we push the envelope and groom our people into all-round professionals who will subsequently become team leaders, managers, recruiters and business partners in their own rights. You cannot find another job with this kind of prospects elsewhere."

New recruits receive a generous monthly package, which includes a basic salary plus potentially substantial commission. On average, a principal consultant can expect a monthly paycheque of about HK$30,000. As they progress to associate director, annual income can well exceed HK$1 million.

Make it happen

Recent statistics reveal a mere two per cent of Hong Kong's population utilises financial planning services. Increasing demand is also anticipated from the fast-growing affluent markets over the border. Despite market fluctuations, Hong Kong's financial planning industry will continue to experience substantial growth over the years.

"The general public has become more receptive to the financial planning concept. Anyone new to the industry can start building on their natural market and take it from there," remarks Anthony Lau, associate director, consultancy division. "New recruits receive abundant business support which includes an extensive clientele, business leads like seminars and exhibitions, plus a range of marketing initiatives," he says, adding that the company's culture makes work enjoyable.

Bernard Poon, deputy director, consultancy division confirms this. "An admirable corporate culture is our winning component. Our young, energetic and open culture has helped us develop from a 10-people firm into a top-notch conglomerate of more than 1,000 in just 10 years. We are a trendsetter who values innovations, and always aims to build professional acumen and careers," he notes.

When recruiting, Convoy states no preference for specific milieux and instead emphasises candidates' personality attributes. "Frontline banking professionals who know the ropes may have the advantage but extensive work experience helps build social networks and integrity whatever your career background," stresses Kevin Keung, deputy director, consultancy division. "However, people must honour certain obligations, respect discipline and take initiatives."

Surprisingly, Mr Keung discloses that it is the career movers who create most of the success stories in Convoy. He says, "Many of our associates are qualified professionals like engineers and accountants, or elites who shifted from other industries such as logistics, sales and marketing, or hotel and tourism."

In fact, all 90 associate directors of the company have rooted their business on Convoy's platform and never contemplated a move. "You wouldn't opt for a career elsewhere," he concludes.

Taken from Career Times 18 January 2008, p. D20
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