In a sea of pension plans, the route to the perfect retirement harbor is often elusive. That’s where Gain Miles comes in. Rooted in Hong Kong for 38 years, the company has grown from a boutique consultancy to a retirement advisor at the helm of the city’s pension industry. Following our conversation with Mr. Michael Chan, Managing Director, and Dr. Gloria Siu, Chief Executive, one thing has become clear: The firm’s success lies in its determination to go the extra mile.
BENCHMARK (BM): Congratulations on winning the Intermediary of the Year (Independent) Award for the second consecutive year! Gain Miles is known for its efforts in spearheading the MPF industry. How do you draw Hong Kongers’ attention to this saving scheme?
Gloria Siu (GS): Thank you for your recognition! To many Hong Kongers, the MPF scheme is still perceived as no more than a mandatory arrangement. Therefore, we have launched several initiatives to champion the scheme as one of the important tools for saving for retirement. That includes the annual “Gain Miles MPF Confidence Index Survey,” commenced in 2012.
The survey continued to show Hong Kongers’ general lack of knowledge toward MPF. This provides ground for our education efforts. Over the past few years, we have organized various education programs to enhance members’ understanding of MPF, such as briefing sessions and a one-to-one helpdesk service. In 2017 alone, over 6,800 employees from our corporate clients benefited from these programs, and their responses were encouraging. We’re glad that the attendees found the programs useful in enhancing their MPF knowledge. That makes all our efforts worthwhile.
BM: As an independent consultancy, you are counted on for unbiased advice on pension selection. What steps do you take to ensure that companies’ unique needs are covered?
GS: Indeed, understanding what each of our client’s needs lies at the heart of our consultancy service, so we have specially designed regular review sessions with employers to review scheme details, such as costs, employee profiles, and employees’ investment preferences. Leveraging our proprietary research and technical analysis, we help employers gain insight into their employees’ needs and expectations, as well as the suitability and performance of their pension platforms. Our consultants then offer pragmatic advice to corporate clients and assist them with selecting the best pension platform that caters to both workers and employers.
BM: Michael, you mentioned empowering clients to make informed MPF choices. In fact, you have kicked off 2018 by doing exactly that – launching a new index to facilitate MPF selection. Can you tell us more about that?
Michael Chan (MC): Sure. We launched the Gain Miles MPF Performance Index this January to track the performance of all MPF constituent funds. Before the launch of the Index, there were some market references used by the public for MPF performance. However, there was no all-MPF-funds inclusive indicator. With this in mind, we designed the Gain Miles MPF Performance Index to be a standardized, widely-accepted market indicator with which members could appraise their MPF accounts with scientific and convenient references. What’s more, the main Index branches out into three major categories, including Equity Fund Index, Mixed Asset Fund Index and Fixed Income Fund Index, to show the average returns of fund classes based on their asset allocations. Updated weekly, and further complemented with monthly commentary detailing the latest market happenings, the Index serves as a timely gauge of the MPF market. You’re welcome to learn more about the Index on our website.
BM: Sure will! Your comprehensive MPF tools are part of the reason for your win. What about your people? What role do they play in the pension advisory service? And how do you equip them with the best knowledge?
MC: Our consultants play a central part in our advisory service. Besides advising employers on pension selection, they also form a bridge between employers and employees through member briefing sessions, in which employees can gain a better understanding of employers’ rationale behind their pension strategies and selection.
In terms of staff training, all our consultants are SFC-licensed and must undergo an internal special training program, which equips them with technical skills and knowledge about best sales practices. Furthermore, they are encouraged to take CPD (Continuing Professional Development) and CPT (Continuous Professional Training) courses to stay cognizant of the latest trends and legislation updates in the industry and to understand how those changes could impact our clients. BM