The financial planning sector is going through a boom, with many firms expanding their teams of advisers There are various definitions of a wealth manager, from independent financial adviser and insurance agent to personal or private banker. But the president of the Institute of Financial Planners of Hong Kong, Henry Lam Kin-cheung, a CFP practitioner, says there is only one definition from the client's perspective - a wealth manager helps to accumulate, preserve and transfer your wealth. He is not someone who merely takes care of your money in the bank or only helps you to invest. 'Financial planning is a new industry in Hong Kong. The mass- affluent market has just started where individuals are now more willing to trust wealth managers. Large corporations are enjoying the boom because they experienced huge growth last year. At present, they are repackaging products or expanding departments to meet clients' needs,' Mr Lam says. Now, the main issue in the industry is to retain and train good people. 'We now have more jobs than good people. I believe that the career prospects are absolutely excellent. It is a people business in the end. Even if you have extremely competitive products or good processes, you will not able to capture the opportunities if you do not have the right people,' he says. Regardless which capacity you are in, you need to possess a few key attributes to succeed. 'As a wealth manager, you do not only have to have clients but also the attributes to succeed. First, you need to have an open mind to the clients. Every company has its strength and niche and wealth managers should be able to offer more than one solution. Clients are expecting more these days with more choices out there.' Wealth managers should be technically capable and knowledgeable to give proper advice. The second key is to have strong communications and interpersonal skills. 'You need to be outgoing, enjoy working and hanging out with people,' says Mr Lam. Both technical and soft skills take years of experience to sharpen. 'Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Be honest and do not try to cover them up.' Above all, integrity is of utmost importance. 'This is a long-term and relationship-driven business. Do not focus on pushing for sales, but really think of the suitability of products for your clients.' Though performance is heavily focused on individuals, teamwork is also crucial to the process. 'You will not be able to know everything. You need to bring in colleagues to serve your clients. It is not only your own relationships, you need to share them with your team who support you.' Wealth managers also need to provide value-added services to clients. 'Clients are looking for advice but not computer print-outs. You need to educate your clients for they are not knowledgeable enough. Sometimes you need to confront them.' The pitching process can be long. 'You need to ask the right open-ended questions to extract information from your clients in order to profile them.' In changing times such as these, wealth managers have to keep updating themselves. Besides the vast resources that corporations and firms have invested in, staff should enhance their knowledge through self-learning. 'Getting a professional qualification is one way but it is not the end of the process.' Independent financial adviser groups will become stronger and more sophisticated over the next five years. 'Though customers are still looking for brand names, I think that this will soon change,' says Mr Lam. 'Independent financial advisers will be up and coming in Hong Kong. This practice is very strong in Australia and the United States, and we believe their role and presence will be more mature and developed.' When professionals want to look for the right place, they need to find a company that offers good training and long-term commitment in the industry. 'You need to see if they have the right philosophies, commitment and support to assist your career. Being an international financial hub, we are not only dealing with local individuals and their money,' he says. 'This certainly makes the job more exciting and challenging. And we know that mainland Chinese have a lot of wealth but [lack] proper management.'