When the financial crisis struck last year, Clarence Yau Kam-man, a senior financial consultant at American International Assurance Company (AIA), remembers one of his clients becoming worried about his financial status. He was also concerned that there might be an impact on his policy benefits. 'He had many questions and queries about the financial market,' Mr Yau recalled. 'The only thing I could do was keep in contact with him and chat with him all the time, providing him with the latest market information and telling him that the current financial status of AIA Hong Kong was stable and safe, so his investments and insurance absolutely would not be affected by the circumstances.' Mr Yau won the Outstanding Young Salesperson Award. He was one of three AIA employees to win awards at this year's competition. The other two, senior business manager Sandy Wu Wan-yu and senior business manager Kelly Lai Kar-yee, took the Distinguished Salesperson Award. 'The most important thing is that, as professional financial planners, we should never give up, no matter how many challenges we face,' said Mr Yau, who has been with the company for one year. Mr Yau analyses the financial status of clients and gives them suggestions and solutions in a variety of categories, including risk management, savings management, investment management and retirement management. He enjoys his job because he gets to communicate with different kinds of people. He also enjoys the many challenges that the job provides. 'I help people achieve goals or even dreams in their life by providing them with better after-sales services,' Mr Yau said. 'To be successful in this field, you have to help people to improve their financial situation and watch them achieve their goals step by step over their lifetime.' Ms Wu has been with the company for nearly 10 years. She helps clients undergo what she calls 'financial health checks' and lets them know more about their actual financial needs at different stages of their lives, advising them on products that can help them meet their goals. She finds her job challenging, meaningful and rewarding. The key to her success is always putting herself in her clients' shoes and keeping every promise she makes. Among the challenges she faces is the severe competition coming from all types of financial institutions - not just insurance companies - and a lack of confidence in the market as people face the economic downturn. She is trying to increase her activity ratio, develop more new markets and always keep herself in a positive frame of mind in order to influence her clients. 'My clients used to reject any sales pitch when they were approached,' Ms Wu said. 'What we need to do is to be passionate and consistent in building the relationship with them. After trust is built, your advice will also be more readily accepted. You need to always keep upgrading yourself from the inside out. That will make you become more persuasive towards your clients.' Ms Lai has been with the company nearly three years. She provides solutions to client concerns, provides them with retirement planning solutions and maintains a close relationship. She believes it is important to think of things from the client's point of view and then provide rational solutions. 'The recession has led to tight family budgets,' she said. 'They need to review their budgets and reallocate their resources.'