Financial Planning / Wealth Management

Team work from the heart

by Wendy Shair

Nife Chan, Vice President, Citigold Private Client
Nife Chan
Vice President
Citigold Private Client
Citibank Hong Kong
Photo: Edde Ngan
Banking professionals serving wealthy individuals must be equipped to offer appropriate advice to help their clients expand their portfolios and safeguard their assets. With customer numbers growing, the industry targets high-calibre candidates to fill this important role.

"High-net-worth clients come from diverse backgrounds and include business people and top executives. Financial planners must have a thorough understanding of investors' individual needs and cultivate trusting relationships with them," says Nife Chan, Vice President, Citigold Private Client, Citibank Hong Kong.

Having worked for Citibank for a decade, serving customers in the top-income bracket, Mr Chan has gained valuable experience in the field. His expertise has stood him in good stead and he has emerged as a group C finalist in this year's Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards.

Citibank's professional teams of specialist consultants cover a range of finance areas, including investments, foreign exchange and other protection products, Mr Chan explains. "As relationship managers, we need good communications skills and analytical abilities. We're clients' first point of contact—they come directly to us and we need to pre-empt their needs."

"Many of our new clients are from referrals and it's vital that we build strong professional bonds with them," Mr Chan explains. For this reason, Citibank runs monthly "Meet the Manager" investment dinner, inviting clients and their guests to have dinner with its wealth managers.

"This facilitates relationship building. We also host leisure events, such as golf days and shopping previews. We want to show our clients that they're important to us, while also stressing the value of a healthy work-life balance."

Team members strive to increase their know-how in many areas, including knowing what their competitors are working on, he points out. "In addition to being familiar with market trends and our customers' professional requirements, we sometimes even have insight into their personal needs."

In Mr Chan's opinion, professionalism in the industry cannot be clearly defined. "The most important thing is that you're responsive and provide good solutions to your clients."

Strong teamwork

Citibank's researchers provide its wealth managers with regular updates about the US and global financial markets. "Individuals can't cover all bases by themselves, so we rely a lot on teamwork," notes Mr Chan.

His employer and colleagues provided plenty of support during the competition. "I appreciate my team, which backed me solidly, so that I could focus on the contest. And my supervisor gave me flexibility, so that I could combine my work with preparations."

Participating in the HKIB awards involved plenty of effort, he stresses. "It took me about half a year to prepare, rehearse and work on case studies." The competition comprises a written paper, oral presentation, essays and reports. But despite the hard work, he found the whole process to be truly fulfilling. "This was the first time that I had the opportunity to represent Citibank in these awards and it was a real milestone for me."

Good time management is vital, he concludes. "Relationship managers' attitude to their work makes all the difference. It's also important to have empathy with clients and look at things from their perspective. We always strive to provide the best solutions, and therefore ongoing professional development should be a priority for private bankers."

Taken from Career Times 11 November 2011, A3
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