Money Moves

Steering the right course

by Sophie Leung

Financier to increase its workforce by 100

Kenty Wong, manager
corporate communication and business development
Phillip Securities (HK) Ltd
Photo: Johnny Kwok

Despite the negative effects of the dramatic declines in financial markets, one securities company has reported record growth in its derivatives markets activities with increased trade volume and customer numbers. "We are optimistic for the prospects of the derivatives and commodities markets and are therefore keen to develop this sector," says Kenty Wong, manager, corporate communication and business development, Phillip Securities (HK) Ltd.

Financial derivatives such as forwards, options, futures and swaps are financial products governed by different rules. "To help investors better understand the complexity of such products, we hold regular investor education seminars and offer alternative investment tools to investors while promoting diversified portfolios to reduce risks," Mr Wong notes. "In spite of market ups or downs, investors can use derivatives to protect the value of their investments."

Professional agents are in demand to provide brokerage services and to advise investors as they venture into markets unfamiliar investment territories. In response to market needs, the company is looking to recruit 100 frontline sales agents this year. Mr Wong remarks, "As the market is not looking very positive at the moment, we will take a cautious approach in our development but there is no doubt that we are determined to move forward and expand."

Be prepared

In order to meet the needs arising from the company's growing customer base, Phillip Securities (HK) Ltd is seeking fresh graduates to apply for a range of supporting positions, whereas experienced finance professionals are sought for frontline openings. "We value experience a lot since it helps contribute towards professionalism," Mr Wong stresses. Currently the company has a workforce including about 700 frontline staff, providing customers with investment and capital management services.

Mr Wong advises that frontline professionals must be prepared for the challenges ahead. "Working through difficult times and facing the challenges of a changing market are great ways to develop experience," he notes.

As the derivatives markets continue to grow, it is essential for frontline professionals to keep up to date with the changes not only in the financial markets but also in the society. "For example, some of our frontline advisers used to rely wholly on Hong Kong stock trading for their earnings. Nowadays, stock trading constitutes only 30 per cent of their sales and others come from alternative market activities," he says. "Although marginal profits may not be very attractive at the moment, they serve as a way to build long-lasting relationships with customers."

Headquartered in Singapore, Phillip Securities has offices in 10 countries and regions with total shareholders' funds of US$600 million. Mr Wong states, "We are confident in the company's sustainable growth and we have cash reserves to support us. This is why we have decided to maintain our development goals and to recruit new staff at the current time."

Diversified service

Apart from providing quality frontline service, the company aims to diversify its range of financial products to help customers to ride out the financial storm. Its product development team is always looking to introduce new investment tools that are linked to local and overseas stocks, commodities, initial public offering (IPO) and unit trusts. For instance, the company launched a unique online platform PhillipMart recognised by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) since 2007 to enable IPO trading before companies are listed.

Mr Wong explains, "Our online platform helps us to expand our customer base and reach out to a new generation of customers who more receptive to new investment tools."

In line with its strategy to develop business in new markets, the company will be concentrating its efforts in investor education. "Derivatives and other related investment tools are sophisticated and can appear complex. We require our frontline professionals to explain everything clearly so our customers can truly make informed decisions. Professionalism, integrity and vigilance, especially in times of crisis, can help bring us and our customers through difficult times," Mr Wong remarks.

Through the rain

  • Derivatives markets grow despite economic downturn
  • Crises also an opportunity for companies with healthy reserves to develop and expand
  • Preparedness to adversity and flexibility in response to changing needs crucial for frontline sales
  • Diversified financial products and services key to venture into new markets

Taken from Career Times 06 February 2009, p. A2
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