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Building relationships opens doors in private banking
Wong Yat-hei
update on Friday, April 15, 2011
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If you love working with people and have a knack for investing, private banking might be the perfect career for you.

Alan Luk, assistant general manager, head of private banking and trust services at Hang Seng Bank, says he enjoys his working relationship with his clients and has learned a lot from them.

Clients of private banking are high-profile individuals who stand out in their respective fields, and usually have at least US$1 million in liquid assets, Luk says.

The value of private bankers goes beyond providing investment tips. They often set up trust funds for their clients' beneficiaries.

People with a degree in finance or any related fields are welcome to apply, but this job is not for those fresh out of the university.

"Fresh graduates usually need at least four years of experience in banking or customer service before they become prime candidates for this sector," Luk says. "They start off by tagging along [with] private bankers who meet up with clients and begin to develop their own network."

Private bankers do not need formal training. Luk says that they should rather know how to communicate with clients and to win their trust.

A good way to get into their inner circle is to learn how to appreciate art and fine wine. "Relationship building is the key. Never say no when clients invite you to their annual dinner party, a daughter's birthday or a game of golf over the weekend," Luk says.

The demand for private banking will pick up as deep-pocketed mainlanders look for more investment opportunities, but Luk says it will not do the industry any good by expanding quickly.

"Some banks try hard to expand the private banking sector, but I don't think it is possible to increase the number of qualified private bankers in a short period," he says.

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