Reputation helps to attract clients

HIGH-NET-WORTH individuals and institutional clients do not tend to walk into asset managers off the street.

Initial contact with clients can be remarkably indirect by Hong Kong standards. Reputation and marketing help to attract clients but there is a place for cold calling.

Richard Harris, head of private banking and chief executive of Jardine Fleming Investment Services (JFIS), said business largely relied on referrals of friends of existing clients.

'These are the most powerful kind of referrals. There is a sort of independence about client referrals that is very respectable.

'We also get referrals in-house because a lot of people will have friends or business contacts.' Andrew Au Siu-luen, managing director of Citibank Global Asset Management, said senior sales executives would do cold calls on prospective clients to seek business.

'The senior will try to touch base with the finance director directly,' he said. 'They try to introduce themselves and get an appointment, then explain what we are. But nothing specific is offered at that stage because we would not offer anything without understanding what the customers risk profile is. That would be most dangerous.' Like private clients, institutions can meet up with asset managers through referrals by existing clients but the process is more often more formal.

Institutions will call for applications to manage all, or part, of their funds and asset managers will pitch for it with proposals and presentations.