Money Moves

Wise move to financial planning

by Christy Liu

Modern day IFA frees financiers from traditional hierarchical shackles

Front: (left to right) Stella Lo, Joie Hon, Janice Wong
Back: (left to right) Oscar Ho, Ray Cheng, Clarence Lee, Share Hon, Christ Ng, Louise Ho
Photo: Johnson Poon

The increasingly sophisticated financial services industry is presenting tremendous opportunities for professionals from diverse backgrounds who possess strong analytical skills, networking abilities and the determination to break new ground. With more than 1,000 consultants, Convoy Financial Services Limited is the largest IFA (independent financial advisory) in Hong Kong. The conglomerate has in place several internal specialist departments to support its expanding consulting force. These include products and research, client servicing, legal and compliance, marketing and information technology and training.

"Under the current Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) scheme, a plethora of investment tools sprouts. As a result, demand for professional financial advice has soared, which in turn has fuelled the rapid development of the financial services sector and afforded professionals from other industries an unprecedented opportunity to embark on an alternative career journey," says Stella Lo, associate director, consultancy division, Convoy Financial Services Limited.

Previously a vice president in the commodities industry, Ms Lo is acutely aware of the needs of high net worth clients. When considering her move to Convoy, she sought employment with the most reliable and supportive service provider in Hong Kong. After reviewing more than 10 possibilities, Convoy stood out as the superlative choice.

Favourable flexibility

Similarly, Janice Wong, associate director of Convoy's consultancy division, was previously employed as a chartered quantity surveyor in a renowned international construction firm. The rigid hierarchy and limited promotional opportunities within the construction industry were an impediment to her career progress so once she discovered that career development possibilities in financial planning are performance-based and not restricted by age or years of service, she felt compelled to give the industry a try.

Ms Wong, who had no previous frontline experience, says that the initial training and on-the-job support helped her to adapt quickly to the new environment. "Our training department offers all new recruits a comprehensive orientation programme, covering a range of hard and soft skills training including financial planning, marketing and communication, business generation and portfolio analysis," she explains.

In addition to strong administrative support, Convoy continuously opens the door to new business opportunities and ever broader marketing networks for consultants via large-scale publicity programmes, open forums, conferences, financial expos, exhibitions and workshops.

Valuable connections

Louise Ho, an associate in Convoy's consultancy division previously worked as an assistant manager in the customer services branch of a prominent American bank. She has discovered that prior financial planning knowledge is an advantage in the industry but not essential since it can be taught and learnt. "It's more important to have a wide network of personal contacts and good interpersonal skills. Candidates who have previously worked in marketing usually adapt well to the financial planning industry," Ms Ho notes.

According to Joie Hon, associate director, consultancy division, Convoy, "The company actively encourages consultants to build their own team." Ms Hon adds that her satisfaction with Convoy came from a real sense of personal growth. In addition, she was delighted to see Ms Lo and Ms Wong promoted to managerial positions after a relatively short period of time. Consultants can quickly climb the professional ladder, enjoying equal opportunities in a friendly environment void of traditional office politics. In such optimal conditions and with clear guidelines, junior consultants are freed from the tyranny of seniority and can proactively "spread their wings", she adds.

A range of additional support schemes are also in place to facilitate swift integration into the company's unique culture. Ms Hon adds, "Work hard and play hard is our motto. Aside from monetary rewards, the company helps us maintain a healthy work-life balance via an array of events and activities like football and basketball matches and karaoke contests. This helps to build bonds and foster mutual respect and loyalty."

Regarding corporate social responsibility, Convoy received the Caring Company accreditation for its continuous support and sponsorship of various charity events. Staff are encouraged to participate in a range of charitable events and reinvest as much into the community as possible.

Taken from Career Times 22 February 2008, p. A16
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