With the plethora of credit cards and loan services available in Hong Kong, more and more people feel at ease spending borrowed money. However, heavy credit card debt, be it the result of spending or borrowing on credit, is not always simple to repay.
Enter Jessica Chan, director, GlobalBEST International Financial Limited. Ms Chan has the financial training and acumen to lessen the burden. For example, one particular client was unable to repay her monthly credit card instalments and contacted Ms Chan for advice. After negotiating a better deal with the bank, who agreed on a private borrowing package, the client was able to repay the loan in affordable monthly instalments and subsequently cleared the debt.
Financial planning services were aimed primarily at a select social group when Ms Chan began her career after obtaining a finance degree overseas in 2000. "On my return to Hong Kong I joined the IFA (independent financial advisory) industry and arranged time for specific license examinations to qualify as an advisor," she says. "Even the wealth management field in Hong Kong was in its infancy it was growing fast and becoming more professional by the day."
GlobalBEST provides independent financial advisory services to clients and helps them to identify their goals and understand their monetary aims. Objective advice and consultancy services are offered in a flexible and professional manner. The scope of services includes wealth management plans for retirement, investment and education.
"Be customer-centred and think from the client perspective"
The company emphasises service quality and professional ethics, so advisors undergo on-the-job training programmes and attend regular meetings. "We hold a meeting every Monday to review each colleague's work performance, run through any difficulties and devise solutions as a team. Through this, we remind our colleagues to explain the financial plans to clients carefully. To ensure this is done, we make follow-up calls to clients to check they fully understand the plan and any potential risks. This practice protects the rights of our advisors, clients and company, and it has proved effective so far," Ms Chan says. "In-house training is ongoing and it aims at meeting the needs of individual members of staff, some of whom are currently studying an MBA programme." Aside from this, Ms Chan keeps herself abreast of global financial news as part of her daily routine.
Ms Chan emphasises that gaining client trust is a lengthy process so persistence is key. First and foremost, a qualified wealth management advisor must possess licenses issued by the Insurance Intermediaries Quality Assurance Scheme (IIQAS) and the Hong Kong Securities Institute (HKSI) and professional qualifications such as the Hong Kong Registered Financial Planner (HKRFP), Chartered Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Wealth Manager (CWM) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). "However, a successful wealth management advisor does more and the key to success is to serve clients with heartfelt dedication," she remarks.
"Some clients may question young advisors, doubting whether their professional qualifications are up to standard. This can prove frustrating for newly-qualified advisors, so a certain degree of optimism is essential," Ms Chan advises. "Beginners can expect an arduous initial year but after that, when clients can see true dedication, they often refer their friends and relatives," Ms Chan reveals.
Through years of hard work and dedication, Ms Chan has gained wide recognition from her clients and the IFA industry. In 2005, she was awarded the Hong Kong Financial Planner of the Year Award. In 2007, she received a Silver Award in the Hong Kong Association for Customer Service Excellence Award. These have elevated her standing as a wealth management professional to the next level.
The industry welcomes both finance and non-finance graduates. Ms Chan suggests applicants demonstrate sincerity and dedication during the interview process. "Be customer-centred and think from the client perspective. Our job is to tailor rewarding plans and back them up with clear reasoning for our clients," Ms Chan concludes.