Money Moves

Upbeat over new prospects

by Grace Chan

Major banking institution restructures financial planning division to create win-win situation

(left to right)
Queenie Cheung, head of financial planning
branch management & channel management
Arvid Yeung, financial planning manager, BOC Tower Branch
Marie Ng, financial planning manager, Taikoo Shing branch
Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited

The post-tsunami wealth management sector has stepped up compliance and internal controls. Certain key players in the field have also picked up on benchmarking and enhancing client service via a variety of means including naturally increasing manpower.

"Investors have reconsidered their wealth management choices during the financial downturn and while this has been an ongoing industry challenge, we have been assessing new market opportunities and restructured our financial planning division in April this year," says Queenie Cheung, head of financial planning, branch management & channel management, Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited.

"We have a strong vision regarding our new financial planning business model and we have hired quality people who share our goals to help us expand our business," says Ms Cheung.

In line with the expansion strategy, the new division has grown from 18 staff to more than 80 over five months, with a target of increasing that number to 300 by the end of the year.

"We are looking for young aspiring wealth managers as well as experienced professionals," Ms Cheung notes. "We are also facilitating internal transfers from our team of customer service officers and relationship managers."

She adds that the bank's extensive branch network across the whole of China, vast client base and comprehensive in-house training schedule offer young talent the perfect platform to work their way up the career ladder.

Seamless integration

Arvid Yeung, financial planning manager, Bank of China Tower branch, is one new employee with a bright future.

"Clients trust our bank's heritage, which opens up doors to a huge market. However, I would only be able to provide our customers with the best financial planning solutions in a timely manner with referrals from our relationship managers and the full support of the back office," he says.

Ms Cheung explains that the bank's relationship managers deal directly with customers and gain an in-depth understanding of their financial needs. Once these needs are identified, the financial planning managers step in to tailor the appropriate wealth management solutions.

Marie Ng, financial planning manager, Taikoo Shing branch, joined the team in April and has since come out tops. She believes that teamwork and a common goal are paramount.

"This has been good timing to tap into the wealth management market and the bank's extensive network has been a definite advantage, but having the right team members on board has made my job easier," she points out. "Harmonious relationships at work is always an added value to the job."

Thorough preparation

The bank's new financial planning business model entails both high specialisation and staff synergy, Ms Cheung says. Relationship managers play an important role in this. "While they refer the right clients to the financial planning managers, they keep a keen focus on recommending banking products so that both internal and external customers receive the best service."

The bank offers a KASH training programme that aims at developing knowledge, attitude, skills and habit, simultaneously introducing to new recruits its corporate culture, products and services. "While we provide newcomers with the necessary skills and knowledge, it's their attitude and disposition that ultimately make the difference," Ms Cheung remarks.

The challenging month-long training incorporates a strict nine-to-five class schedule and several examinations. "Recruits are required to keep up with the training so as to fit into our team where staff synergy plays a major part," she says.

Mr Yeung and Ms Ng credit the training programme for preparing them for challenge on the frontline. They found the role-play exercises particularly valuable since it familiarised them with the bank's unique six-step selling process.

Upon completion of training, financial planners are coached and counselled by district managers, who act also as mentors, share their practical experience, offer mental support and help foster team spirit. The bank also runs ongoing training to hone soft skills and promote psychological well-being as well as work-life balance.

Currently, Mr Yeung and Ms Ng are embarking on studies to obtain professional qualifications and further brush up on their soft and hard skills. "As we grow with the business, there is every opportunity for us to assume the role of a manager and share our experience with our predecessors," Ms Ng concludes.

Key strategies

  • Restructured financial planning division to grab mounting wealth management business
  • Growing teams rely on synergy
  • Comprehensive training builds a professional workforce
  • Senior staff act as mentors to help develop new recruits

Taken from Career Times 09 October 2009, p. A2
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