Money Moves

Top recruits "door-stepped" on campus

by Anna Tong

This is a special edition introducing the latest trends in recruitment and training in the insurance industry

Insurance company's ongoing drive to attract future financial planners

Alex Wong (right), agency development director; Cheung Wai-tsz, guest speaker
Photo: Wallace Chan

Leveraging on the big upsurge in the financial planning industry in recent years, New York Life Insurance Worldwide Ltd (NYL) is boldly aiming to increase its local staff to 1,700 before 2009. As outlined by Alex Wong, director, agency development, New York Life Insurance Worldwide Limited, the company has already swung into action with an extensive recruiting programme to scoop up and train promising young financial talents emerging from the incubus of Hong Kong's universities. It's a plan that borrows much from good, old-fashioned door-stepping.

NYL does proactive recruiting among final year students of such institutions as the University of Hong Kong, the Baptist University and the University of Science and Technology to identify high-calibre candidates with the potential to develop a lifelong career in financial planning. Teaming up with the career centres of these respected institutions, NYL stages career seminars to introduce the oncoming graduates to the financial field, enriching their very basic knowledge of financial planning and the increasingly significant role it plays today.

"We attracted a good number of promising young people who showed genuine interest in a career in financial planning," says Mr Wong. "We follow up by inviting them to our other recruitment activities and seminars, which enable us to form a better insight into the candidate's qualities and potential for success. Some demonstrate a flair for the profession, and so when they graduate we give them the opportunity to fast-track into the industry."

Nevertheless, even the best prospects must complete a thorough POP screening process - an online comprehensive survey which involves a personal assessment and career-related activities, plus a searching set of appropriate questions. As Mr Wong points out, the financial planning industry has really taken off in the past five years, as increasing numbers of Hong Kong achievers reach the conclusion that it is better to place their faith and their assets in the hands of experienced professionals, rather than dabble in stock market tips and other chancy forms of investment.

Training facility

NYL has over 160 years of experience in the insurance industry, so newcomers can be assured of being provided with solid training and background in its products. "We have our own training facility, NYLIC University Online Campus (HK), to provide the best training for young talents feeling their way into the industry," Mr Wong adds. Apart from academic qualifications, candidates should not only see their future as just selling insurance products but regard it as a career, forming lifelong relationships with clients and assisting their every financial need. "The aim is provide financial solutions to the client with no hard selling involved, since our goal is to help the client enhance their financial situation through our professional skills and knowledge," says Mr Wong.

Newcomers to the profession should also be life-long learners, refreshing their knowledge and training as new financial and insurance developments occur. "Our training programme ensures that staff are competent in applying their new-found knowledge in carrying out financial analysis," Mr Wong stresses. "Graduate recruits go on a financial planning executive programme that will help them achieve competence and become qualified as a certified financial planner (CFP). This is a pre-requisite to developing professionalism in analysis selling systems, and ensures that the CFP covers every detail about the clients before deciding on the necessary priorities for them."

A senior business development manager (SBDM) programme has been tailored for experienced professionals who have no insurance background but are looking to tapping into the field. They take part in on-going training regimes that beef up their knowledge and upgrade their professional qualities.

"Under GOLD System, a unique agency management model that has made New York Life a leader of the Million Dollar Round Table for over half a century, clear guidance is given in every process including recruiting, selling and training," Mr Wong notes. The system, which effectively increases sales revenue and productivity, also represents the philosophies and policies of the company's agency management.

All guidelines and areas are covered to allow staff to be able to progress in any chosen field whether it be management or others. "Training enables staff to project a professional image to clients as well as boosting their own self-confidence. In turn this results in more business, which of course helps them to progress in their careers," Mr Wong says.

As another proactive approach to recruitment, NYL has just organised a large-scale career seminar, "Start your engine, dream the impossible dream", earlier in April at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. This featured guest speaker Cheung Wai-tsz, who is an accredited neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) trainer and former news anchor. During the seminar, Ms Cheung shared her experiences of success from how she went from a news anchor to a NLP trainer, and give insightful career advice to the audience. NYL's executive agency director Andy Tam and sales manager Siegfriend Lau also shared their success stories with the audience. Renowned investment analyst Kenny Tang will also be featured in an upcoming seminar in May at NYL's training centre in Causeway Bay.

Mr Wong hopes that besides being another recruitment vehicle, these seminars can help the audience find the answers to questions about their own careers as well as understanding themselves better in terms of career goals.

Taken from Career Times 27 April 2007, p. A2
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