Hong Kong people may be widely known for their financial acumen but, of today's population of around seven million, only 80 percent have basic insurance cover and an estimated 50 percent have made inadequate provision for their long-term retirement needs. In view of this, ING Life Insurance Company (Bermuda) Limited recently set up a wealth management division to offer flexible, transparent financial advice and the services to go with it.
As Eric Poon, vice president of the new division, points out, "We intend to serve the needs of customers and, to do that, we must recruit the very best professional talent. The first step has been to hire a number of top quality wealth managers and to arrange comprehensive training programmes for them."
The total recruitment targets are comparatively ambitious, calling for about 30 wealth managers to be taken on in 2004 and a further 200 within the next five years. Training for each of them will include 25 practical courses and weekly personal development meetings. Besides these in-house programmes, the company will also expect new recruits to acquire the designation of Certified Financial PlannerCM (CFPCM), a qualification recognised throughout the financial planning sector.
"During the selection process, we look at personal qualities before anything else," says Mr Poon. "To get accepted, candidates should be enthusiastic, aggressive, and possess good communications skills." Sales experience and an extensive network of personal contacts are also seen as an advantage.
According to Mr Poon, the field of wealth management offers great career prospects. "There are basically two paths to take - towards senior management or to be a frontline sales professional," he says. "In either case, we foresee there will be a constant demand for staff because wealth management will play an increasingly vital role in Hong Kong's financial services sector in the next few years."