Financial Planning / Wealth Management

Vibrant brand a key to capturing customers

by Wing Kei

Phoebe Wong, senior vice president, head of wealth management and strategic planning, CITIC Ka Wah Bank
Photo: Wallace Chan

Emerging wealth in Asia requires branded wealth management services

An eye-catching and instantly recognisable branding strategy is a prerequisite for corporations to distinguish their products and services from competitors. Additionally, a strong corporate image adds value to products and services.

Recognising the benefits of having a strong branding strategy, CITIC Ka Wah Bank has cultivated a powerful sense of identity for its customers by providing the finest private wealth management services through CITICfirst, which was officially launched in March 2006 to offer premium financial services to the affluent. It aims to provide a diverse range of products for sophisticated investors wishing to diversify their assets and explore more investment opportunities. The bank is therefore making special efforts to raise its corporate image by implementing marketing activities that feature CITICfirst's unique value — realising customers' wealth management needs.

"Unlike markets in developed countries, there is more emerging wealth in Asia," says Phoebe Wong, senior vice president and head of the bank's wealth management and strategic planning department. "This sector is expanding rapidly in Asia and playing an increasingly significant role in financial affairs. The key is to capture a share of this market in a timely manner," she adds.

Wealth management is not simply a one-off interaction but involves ongoing activities, often through a client's lifetime. "We aim to capitalise on the many touch points involved to increase our profile," Ms Wong adds. "We want to offer our investment services in the most helpful way to satisfy our customers' goals and prove we are their friends."

Talent pool

New customers are assigned to the best talent with the bank. Each relationship manager acts as company CFO to manage the financial arrangements of their specific clients. They must stay ahead of the investment market trends so as to efficiently serve the needs of the affluent segment, helping them achieve their financial goals and maximise their wealth. "Every customer is unique and we are standing by to keep them informed about the latest market trends and even the smallest things that speak for our brand," Ms Wong says.

Relationship managers are required to have the basic qualifications with a minimum of five to seven years of related banking experience. "Each relationship manager take care of no more than 250 customers. This allows them to spend more time regularly reviewing and updating the financial needs of each customer," she remarks. "Our customers put their trust in us and our aims are to make sure they enjoy asset growth with peace of mind and to ensure that every customer reaches a higher level of wealth."

East meets West

The bank believes its services blend the finest cultural characteristics of both East and West. "CITIC Ka Wah Bank possesses strong local understanding on customer needs and demand," Ms Wong explains. "Underpinned by high international management standards, we use globally recognised portfolio management approach and niche investment tools to maximise the wealth of customers. We take into account both cultures in successfully identifying our own market niche."

CITICfirst now serves more than 6,000 clients, about 80 percent of them investors who have been using the bank's services for a couple of years. "Our customer base is growing steadily since the successful implementation of our strong branding strategy, which has helped increase customer confidence in our investment services," says Ms Wong. "Many new customers are referred by word of mouth. To satisfactorily fill their needs we must proactively explore investment choices to tailor a perfect package."

CITICfirst offers three major pillars that strengthen its business — providing a diversity of investment opportunities, offering niche investment products, and ensuring products best address customer needs. "The key to sustaining our good reputation is to continuously raise our profile and maintain our credibility while at the same time continuing our policy of innovation in new products." CITICfirst also raises its corporate image through exposure in the media, offering sponsorship development and taking part in various recognised competitions.

This year the bank expects to increase the number of CITICfirst centres from five to nine to complement the 31 branches it currently operates in Hong Kong. It will handpick the location of these new centres to target areas with the best potential for business growth. "We want our customers to find our services just next door," Ms Wong says.

Brand identity

  • Diversity of investment opportunities
  • Niche investment products
  • Leveraging on vibrant image
  • Combining mindsets of East and West

Taken from Career Times 09 March 2007
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