The industry pioneer that sees opportunities in challenges
It has never been easy to survive in the ever-growing competitive financial planning industry while the authority calls for more control over the business practices. The more stringent compliance requirements not only safeguard clients’ interests, but also serve as a screening to eliminate the unqualified consultants in the industry. While most practitioners are to a certain degree turned off by the new requirements which make closing business more difficult, Altruist Financial Group Limited (Altruist) still stands tall facing the challenges. “To us, these are not challenges but opportunities,” says Albert Lam, President of Altruist.
The company upholds core values that are suggested by its name ‘Altruist’, which is a group of people working for other people’s happiness and welfare with the highest level of integrity and professionalism. Adhering to its values from the very first day of business, no wonder the company has built a pool of satisfied and loyal clients with over 90 percent persistency rate and shown no fear to the stricter regulations. Mr Lam explained, “We have a positive outlook for the industry as flowers would grow better after the weeds around being removed.”
Opportunities from the North
According to statistics from the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, mainland visitors have bought 64,000 new insurance policies worth over 10 billion Hong Kong dollars in the first half of 2014, making up 18.4 percent of the total sales. Mainlanders have now become an increasingly important source of business; however, Altruist sees something beyond simply making money from these opportunities.
“Despite the cultural differences between the mainland and Hong Kong, financial planning is of equal importance to both sides. Most mainlanders choose to buy insurance policies and investment plans in Hong Kong for its well-established legal framework. Some may be attracted by the products that have better features and higher returns compared with those available across the border. Whatever reasons bring them here, we need to promulgate a right attitude and concept that financial planning is for long-term protection and saving instead of the short-term and speculative ones on which most other practitioners focus," Mr Lam explained.
The company is dedicated to educating clients with this correct knowledge, coupled with the detailed fact-finding processes and selecting the most suitable products that fit their needs. Aligning with over 50 business partners, the company offers a full range of financial products, including insurance, investment, asset management, CIES and MPF. From these products, their professional consultants can develop a unique ‘Wise Solution’ to its clients, helping them to tailor financial solutions based on their needs at different stages of life. What further sets Altruist apart from its competitors is that they are one of the few in the industry which is licensed with the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission to carry out Type 1, 4 and 9 regulated activities, which allows the company to help manage clients’ assets more thoroughly and effectively.
Total well-being solution
Altruist does not only care about wealth management, it also takes initiatives to promote physical health to its clients and colleagues. Regular health talks are held to update them with useful health tips. To further promote a healthy lifestyle internally and externally, ‘WeFit 4ever’ is launched this year while three ‘WeFit’ ambassadors have been nominated. Since its establishment, a series of activities have been organized: e.g. hiking, running-man and lawn bowling, for clients, family members and friends to join as a way to reinforce the company brand to the younger generation while engaging in healthy programs.
Speaking of young talents, the company has actively participated in various job fairs and joined hands with the School of Professional Education and Executive Development (SPEED) of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University to launch a PolyU SPEED - Altruist Summer Placement Scholarship and a 10-week internship program. A group of students came to real work-stations to learn more about financial planning and gained valuable on-site experience.
Mr Lam added, “Whether the students will eventually join the industry is not the key.It’s more important to educate the young generation about a proper financial planning concept and attitude.”
Professional associate partners
Manpower growth is the top priority for Altruist as new blood is always the most important asset for a distribution company. In addition to recruitment of full-time consultants, the company has developed a new program: Professional Associate Partners (PAP) for inviting part-time consultants who are interested in developing a second career to bridge the gap between the inflationary cost of living and their real income.
To assure that everyone in the strong cadre of consultants lives up to the highest level of integrity and professionalism, Altruist is dedicated to providing the same level of support and backup in terms of training, monitoring, coaching and administration support to both full-time and part-time consultants.
Giving back to the community
Altruism is the indispensable essence of the company’s value. Internally, Altruist has a good deal of family-friendly policies for its staff. Its efforts were recognized by earning the ‘Family-Friendly Employer Award’ in 2011 and 2013/2014. To the wider community, the company supports the needy, such as the hearing-impaired, the physically and mentally challenged and the poor in forms of sponsorship and voluntary work.
It has been the seventh consecutive year for the company to sponsor and volunteer at the Otic Foundation Charity Concert to raise funds for the hearing-impaired community. Their full-range engagement in corporate social responsibilities has best reflected its endeavors in this aspect and earned them the ‘Caring Company’ logo since 2003. The company is well-known for its good reputation in the industry with their Altruistic spirit. If you wonder what has got them through the challenges in all these years, and what led them to where they are today, it must be their integrity, professionalism and altruism that guide them through every part of their business every day.