With the ambitious target of becoming one of the top five insurance agencies in Hong Kong in the next three years, Zurich has a vigorous growth plan. The financial services giant plans to recruit 1,000 agents within this year, doubling its existing sales force.
The company is hiring fresh and recent graduates, as well as candidates educated to Form Seven or above, for the position of business development trainee.
"Unlike the traditional practice where district managers hire their own team members and train them in their methods, Zurich aims at standardising both the hiring and training process to boost advisers' professionalism," says Clarence Lau, senior manager of the Professional Development Centre, Zurich Academy Distribution Development - the institution tasked with recruiting and training new advisers.
The selection process includes written tests on language, numeracy and logical thinking. Shortlisted candidates are then invited for a one-on-one interview to prove they are suitable for the job and are committed to the financial planning industry. On acceptance, they receive an offer to participate in the New Adviser Development Course (NADC), an eight-week structured training induction.
Yukina Chan, wealth planner with Zurich Direct Agency, has just finished her training. She was recruited straight out of university, where she majored in an integrated BBA with a focus on marketing. "I was attracted to the field because [it allows me to] plan my own schedule and personal business strategy, set my own targets and develop my marketing strategy," she says.
She advises candidates that they should be passionate, positive, cheerful and enthusiastic about meeting people from all walks of life. "They must be persistent and like to succeed," she says.
Training plays an integral part in preparing the new generation of agents, as well as providing professional development for existing staff.
"We believe that systematic training is very important for a new adviser. It not only helps them attain professional knowledge and necessary skills, but also enhances confidence and loyalty to the industry and company," Lau says.
For its eight-week NADC for new hires, Zurich provides a training allowance for the period. The first four weeks are spent learning product knowledge, preparing participants to pass the government-required examinations on life, general and investment-linked insurance, as well as on the Mandatory Provident Fund. In the second month, trainees accompany their mentors on client visits. They also go out to sell and perform case analyses.
"In the first month, we learn 'prospecting'. We start with a 'warm market', such as the cases of people who have left the company. Then, we test the 'cold market', for example, via our road shows in shopping malls," says Chan, who has already won five awards in which she competed against recruits from the entire district.