Money Moves

Trained to perfection

by Jacky Wong

Alan Tsang
director and chief executive officer
AMTD Financial Planning Ltd
Photo: Nolly Leung

In Hong Kong, there is always a demand for good financial planners. One source of reputable planners is AMTD Financial Planning Limited, a joint venture between Cheung Kong Group and Commonwealth Bank Group of Australia.

AMTD Financial Planning Limited, established in 2003, is an independent financial planner and a member of the AMTD Group Company Limited, which also owns two other subsidiaries, AMTD Risk Management Limited, providing one-stop financial consultancy services; and AMTD Direct Limited, offering customer and telemarketing services.

According to Alan Tsang, director and chief executive officer of AMTD Financial Planning Ltd (AMTD), the company has recently launched an aggressive recruitment drive to expand its frontline force. The workforce of financial planners will be increased from 170 to 230 and telemarketers from 200 to 600.

The financial conglomerate uses channels such as the print media, exhibitions, road shows and recruitment seminars at universities to attract talent. One of these initiatives was a summer internship programme which allowed students to familiarise themselves with the nature of financial planning and to obtain practical experience.

"We had a good response to the internship programme and have recruited some of the students as permanent staff following their graduation," says Mr Tsang, adding that while it is preferable for new recruits to have completed their university education and to have obtained some financial knowledge, prospective applicants with a strong interest in the industry, good communication skills and a passion for client service will also be considered.

AMTD stresses staff training. New recruits undergo eight days of training, covering investment products, compliance issues, customer service, interpersonal communications and the preparation of financial plans. New staff also learn to operate the company's computerised financial planning system. After completing the training, recruits are teamed with senior staff to practice their skills in client meetings and test their knowledge while their performance is evaluated.

Many financial institutions and insurance companies offer impressive remuneration packages, but AMTD's strong back-up support to financial planners places the company a notch above the rest, says Mr Tsang. Support includes access to an extensive client list from the Cheung Kong Group and a team of in-house financial planners to help frontline financial planners prepare financial plans and offer objective investment-product advice.

"We believe financial planners should focus on client needs. Other miscellaneous tasks like confirming appointments should be handled by our telemarketing team," notes Mr Tsang.

AMTD believes continuous professional development is crucial and the company's financial planners regularly attend monthly half-day development training sessions. Long-term employee relationships and good staff benefits are also essential to drive staff towards excellence, Mr Tsang points out. AMTD financial planners are permanent staff and not self-employed, which is different from other financial institutions in the industry. They therefore earn a basic monthly salary and get many employee benefits such as MPF and annual paid leave.

"Investment is a lifelong process. By cultivating long-term relationships with our staff, they are motivated to do the same with their clients. This helps enhance confidence and loyalty," Mr Tsang concludes.

Taken from Career Times 17 August 2007, p. A15
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