Money Moves

Team spirit drives youthful talent

by Grace Chan

Convoy -  Group training for team spirit
Henry Shin, chief distribution officer & executive director
Convoy Financial Services Limited
Photo: Edde Ngan

Bright, young financial advisers thrive in positive working environment

Employers are increasingly aware that top talent these days seek more than just good financial packages—they also want job satisfaction and a pleasant office atmosphere.

"About 40 new people join our company every month, and they all receive training together. This helps to boost team work, as the new recruits do support each other," says Henry Shin, chief distribution officer & executive director, Convoy Financial Services Limited. "It's normal for employees to have ups and downs, and newcomers may think of giving up when times are tough. However, encouragement by peers usually helps them to rise to the challenge."

Compared with banking and insurance, the independent financial adviser [IFA] field is an emerging sector, Mr Shin notes, adding that the average age of the company's management staff is around 40, with junior colleagues mostly between 26 and 30. "Considering that our young staff members are active and energetic, we've set up a sports club and organise soccer matches, basketball games and so on. This also helps with team building."

The company also runs a Fun Club, which plans leisure activities such as fashion shows and Halloween parties to help employees achieve a healthy work-life balance. "For those that are not interested in ball games, we offer the chance to participate in voluntary work, for example visiting retirement homes."

Ongoing recruitment

Financial consultants tend to work irregular hours and the job pressure is intense. However, the younger generation aspires to more than just money, says Mr Shin. "By creating a harmonious working environment and supportive corporate culture, we aim to help our staff feel more engaged with their jobs by boosting their strong sense of belonging. This makes them more likely to stay with us."

The company was established in 1993, and there were only about 100 financial consultants on board in 2000. However, the staff complement has steadily grown. The recruitment target of expanding from 1,200 in the beginning of 2011 to approximately 1,500 consultants by the end of the year has practically already been achieved.

"We now have a team of roughly 1,480, and we'll maintain a 10 to 20 per cent growth for next year. However, we'd rather not organise mass recruitment events, because hiring a few hundred people at once would dilute our training resources. Consultants that don't meet professional standards will not be able to close deals and will eventually leave."

All new recruits receive induction training, run by the company's training department. The managers that hired them become their mentors and provide three to six months of individual on-the-job training. "The new arrivals receive guidance on everything from compiling proposals to meeting clients, and their performances are reviewed to help them improve. Such tailored coaching improves their success rate."

Moving up

It takes some effort to be a mentor, but veteran managers are rewarded with commissions if their charges successfully close deals. "We also have an override system," Mr Shin explains. "During recruits' first six months with the company, they're trainees. After that, they may be promoted to the position of financial consultant, gradually working their way up to deputy director. In the meantime, they can establish their own teams. The possibilities for career progression are clear."

In addition to recruiting financial consultants with two or more years' experience, Convoy will also consider fresh graduates. "In recent years, a sizeable number of mainland candidates have joined us after finishing their university education here in Hong Kong. They have the advantage of wider horizons because of their Hong Kong education and good social connections on the mainland, fitting in well with the direction that the wealth management market is going," he points out.

"Before the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, customers tended to have great trust in banks, but these days they often prefer to get more independent professional advice, creating a greater demand for IFA services."

Only the best IFAs can survive in the market and many small and medium-sized organisations do not have the competitive edge of large firms such as Convoy, he notes. "In addition to an excellent training system and sound promotion structure, our strong team spirit and great reputation enable our consultants to thrive."

The company encourages staff to participate in industry contests, including the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards, to help them further enhance their professionalism.

"Our contestants are prepared and advised by senior managers and cheered on by their colleagues at presentation ceremonies. Winners do not only earn recognition from their counterparts in the sector, but wider publicity increases clients' confidence in them. That provides us with an edge," Mr Shin concludes.

Geared to go

  • Group training and peer support bolster team spirit
  • Clubs, activities and harmonious company culture help recruits engage with the job
  • Staff complement continues to grow steadily
  • Company employs both consultants with experience and new graduates

Taken from Career Times 18 November 2011, A2

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