Many people dream of controlling their own business, working hours and financial destiny. But faced with the reality of limited resources, start-up capital and lack of experience, those dreams, for most, are seldom realised. Outgoing people looking for an opportunity to control their future could consider a career in insurance. Australian Mutual Provident Society (AMP Society), Australia's largest insurance company, is growing in Hong Kong and is looking for independent business partners, or sales agents. Since entering the Hong Kong market in 1992, the company has expanded to three offices and 180 employees. It is seeking another 20 associates by December and another 150 to 200 people by the end of 1997. Roger Steel, general manager of AMP Society's Hong Kong office, said the industry was growing because the market was not well penetrated despite increasing awareness about insurance products. About 30 per cent of the Hong Kong population has personal insurance. 'There is still a lot of unfulfilled customer needs out there. In the past, there may have been some cultural resistance to buying insurance but that is breaking down and, as it does, the market is growing,' Mr Steel said. AMP Society is looking for sales agents with little experience to regional managers with 10 years' industry experience. Sales agents should be at least 23, Form Five graduates and have at least two years' experience. The company prefers people from the banking, hotel and nursing sectors, or with experience in social work. 'We are very much interested in these particular groups because our surveys show that they have a much higher chance of success in this career,' said Harrison Li, AMP's sales general manager. 'We are looking for professional people who are well-trained in product knowledge, selling skills and have relevant knowledge about financial services. This is a people business involving relationships and the maturity of a person has a big impact on how successful a person is,' he said. Applicants will have two interviews. The second interview involves an aptitude test. Successful applicants will have to undergo a seven-day training programme involving life insurance and general insurance courses. After successfully completing the course, new agents' registrations are submitted for processing and they can begin selling. As they gain experience, they will be required to take continuing education courses, exploring opportunities in niche markets. Agents can also work towards receiving professional qualifications such as a CLU (Chartered Life Underwriters) and a FLMI (Fellow Life Management Institute). AMP reimburses those who successfully complete the programme. Mr Steel said the level of professionalism had risen in recent years, in tandem with the number of university graduates who had entered the profession. Reasonably productive agents who worked on commission could expect to earn between $500,000 and $600,000 annually by the third year. 'By then there is a build up. Basically, you earn money as you sell but you also earn money as you keep business through continued service to the client,' he said. However, only 30 per cent of people stayed in the industry for five years. Mr Li said the insurance sector was not for everyone because it was performance-based and was suited to people with special drive. The company is also looking for people with experience in the industry or in related fields. They would be offered positions with managerial roles. Unit managers with general sales experience will also be recruited. They must have two years' experience in the field, good supervisory skills and be able to recruit and train sales agents. Assistant branch managers need four years of life insurance sales experience, with a least two years in a supervisory role. Branch managers need six years' experience with a track record in recruiting and developing successful people. Senior branch managers need eight years' experience and regional managers 10 years. Mr Steel said although the jobs were based more on performance than on academic qualifications, he was eager to recruit university graduates. 'The more brain power, the more experience and skill that you can bring into this job, the more you will succeed. One of the good things about this career, and we consider it a full-time career, is that you don't have a fixed salary; you generate your own income. 'So, the smarter you are at it and the better you are with people, the more you will earn,' he said. Insurance agents and senior management staff at AMP Society receive up to 80 per cent medical coverage for hospitalisation and clinical visits, depending on their position. There is also a mandatory provident fund after three years, with the company matching the agent's 5 per cent contribution. Agents also receive financial assistance, office and clerical support, literature and sales assistance. For more information, phone the AMP Society sales division at 2585 1334 or fax 2827 8910.