With the prevailing economic climate prompting pay cuts and job losses across industries, some companies have their sights set firmly on the longer-term future of their businesses.
Opportunities will increase as the economy picks up over the next two years and particularly once the China market opens up by 2011, says Sandy Kam, director, Channel 8 Wealth Management Ltd.
As an independent financial adviser (IFA), Channel 8 has access to a wide spectrum of financial products offered by a variety of banks and finance houses. This gives the company's advisers the flexibility to offer clients "objective-based" services tailored for their requirements.
"What differentiates us from our competitors is our commitment to long-term relationships with our clients. We aim to offer effective financial management support that will help them achieve specific objectives in the different phases of their lives," says Ms Kam.
In spite of the current market conditions, Channel 8 plans to double its staff strength by the end of this year. The company will also continue to upgrade its web portal to enhance customer service.
"The portal is useful to both customers and financial advisers. The integrated platform supports easy portfolio management and provides a holistic view of the investment progress by consolidating valuations of all investment products purchased from different financial institutes," explains Suzie Lai, a Channel 8 vice president.
This provides clients with a full picture of their investment performance, while advisers are able to access market updates and information in order to provide their customers with timely advice, improving communication between all parties.
Conceding that recent events in the financial world have eroded confidence in the industry, Ms Kam notes that the recession impacts less severely on mid- to long-term investors looking at returns further down the line.
"When we talk about objective-based wealth management, it usually covers a longer time span. People invest with long-term goals in mind. These may include marriage, children, mortgages or retirement. In this sense, the need for investment will never stop," she says.
Ms Kam adds that now is a good time to review investment strategies and get ready for the financial upturn, anticipated by 2011.
Jonathan Lee, senior vice president, business development, Channel 8, agrees with this approach. "In 2007, investors were more willing to take risks. Now they have become more conservative and tend to go with guaranteed and steady growth tools," he remarks.
Investors may consider multi-stage investments, spreading out the investment over a period of time, allocating smaller amounts rather than making a large investment in one go, Mr lee expands.
Aside from its local expansion plans, Channel 8 is also laying the groundwork to enter the China market.
"Of all Chinese cities, Hong Kong's trading environment is the freest and the most influenced by Western investment practices. These are important drivers for China's future growth," says Ms Kam.
Hong Kong's strong judiciary, Western-style business contracts and free currency trading, as well as its links with foreign investment markets, provide the city with a unique position to act as bridge between mainland investors and the rest of the world.
"We are investing in our people network and in acquiring the necessary local know-how to capitalise on the huge opportunities that China will offer once the bar is lifted," notes Ms Kam.
Channel 8 recognises that its people are its key assets. The company has scheduled a recruitment day this month as part of its efforts to expand its team, which is expected to grow from 50 to 100 by the end of the year.
Although the company will favourably consider candidates with industry experience and exposure to the China market, it will not disregard fresh graduates with the right attributes.
"In our business, it is essential for frontline advisers to be highly motivated and have a positive attitude. Since the job can be stressful and advisers often face rejection, an outgoing personality and good interpersonal skills are real assets," Ms Lam stresses. "One of the benefits of working for Channel 8 is that we provide training and development opportunities to help our team members grow."
Mr Lee adds that commitment and determination are crucial for success in the industry. "We see adversity as an opportunity to walk through difficulties with our customers," he emphasises.
"Preparing for the future is essential, and this is exactly what Channel 8 is in the process of doing," Ms Kam concludes.