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  • 25/09/2017

Putting the Client First


Putting the Client First


By Emily Lai

Carmen Lam – Chief Executive Officer

Mrs. Carmen Lam is the Chief Executive Officer of Principal Investment & Retirement Services Limited. She is responsible for overseeing the sales, distribution, marketing, and client services for Principal’s mutual fund and pension products in Hong Kong. Mrs. Lam first joined Principal Hong Kong in 1994, over the years she has held different positions within the company, such as Director of Human Resources & Administration and Director of Sales & Distribution for its MPF business, among others. Mrs. Lam left the Group in 2005 to pursue an MBA degree from the University of Iowa. Lam returned to Principal in 2010 as the Chief Executive Officer of PrinCorp Wealth Advisors (Asia) Limited (subsequently renamed as Principal Investment & Retirement Services Limited). On top of that, Mrs. Lam was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Principal Global Investors (Asia) Limited since January 2014.

Principal has put a great deal of effort in the past year to develop customer relationship strategies and client support initiatives. BENCHMARK has recognised this with the Best-In-Class award in the MPF Client Support category at this year’s BENCHMARK Fund of the Year Awards.

Carmen Lam, CEO of Principal Investment & Retirement Services Limited, says “As a retirement specialist, Principal has committed to providing the best MPF service to our clients to help them reach their ideal retirement life. With our business pledge ‘Customers always comes first, we value customer experience which we consider as fundamental to the growth of the company.“

“In 2014, we saw the trend that customers were looking for simplicity and efficiency. To address their diverging needs and take a leading position in the market, we tried to “make it easy” with a customer-centric approach. To provide more personalised and hassle-free solutions to customers, our dedicated customer service teams in Relationship Management, Customer Service, Member Relations and Call Centre, transformed to achieve these goals.”

Relationship Management Team

Principal’s Relations Management Team interacts with employees and employers, organising seminars to keep them abreast of the market information and provide feedback to their enquiries face-to-face. Carmen says, “For example, the team conducted seminars to brief the members on the Scheme Merger of Principal MPF Scheme Series 500 and Principal MPF Scheme Series 600 to ensure the members of these two schemes were clear of the details. Our engagement reaches the members directly down to the employee level, showing that we are eager to create direct customer communications. In the past year, the team conducted 268 employee seminars and 5,592 employer visits, which were tailor-made to help members manage their MPF benefits. The initiatives reduced customers’ efforts and generated customer linkage. The Relationship Management Team interacts with customers in other ways, such as sending employers an e-Alert as a reminder of MPF contributions and new MPF policies like increased minimum relevant income.”

Member Relations

The Member Relations Team focuses on member education, which Principal adopts as a long-term strategy to increase the retirement readiness of members. Comprised of experienced retirement consultants with average experience of over 10 years, the team aims to enhance customer relationships by offering a consultation service.

Carmen explains: “The Member Relations Team breaks the tradition of customer service to outreach individual members and provide investment and retirement solutions. Our Customer Service Representatives will help schedule individual meetings for members who are interested in this service, at places convenient for the members. Alternatively, members can also walk into our office in the Hopewell Centre or phone in to contact our consultants to arrange a face-to-face meeting. The consultant can respond to the enquiries of the individual member and generate actionable insights.”

“As MPF is a long term instrument for one’s retirement, the team aims to guide the members to look at the whole picture, instead of a single element, when making investment decisions. Our consultants will conduct a detailed Financial Needs Analysis and Risk Profile Assessment to understand the whole picture of the member’s financial details and risk appetite. A suitable retirement planning strategy will be generated and documented through our proprietary Retirement Planning Tool called “Milestone” to guide the members to adopt an appropriate Asset Allocation and Saving Models to fulfil their retirement readiness. Through a more direct interaction, the team succeeded in creating greater customer commitment.”

Dedicated Phone Team

Principal’s Call Centre handles daily enquiries from both employers and employees. There is a dedicated hotline to individual members whose employers reported their termination so that employees can call representatives of Call Centre for assistance on account consolidation. The Call Centre will also make courtesy calls to employers to provide up-to-date information on regulations and changes to employers.

Carmen adds, “As the Relationship Management Team and Member Relations Team provide assistance on MPF management and retirement planning, the Call Centre serves the clients instantly and immediately, which requires very efficient practice of handling calls. In the past year, we picked up 94% of the calls within our service pledge of 15s, in keeping with the high standards we set.”

Mobile App for Empowerment of Customers

Principal marked the introduction of its electronic service with the launch of a mobile app. Principal is one of the pioneers in launching a mobile internet platform and a mobile app for Android users in 2012. Members can view their account balance, daily fund prices, up-to-date market information and Principal’s news. Carmen adds, “In November 2013, we launched an enhanced version of the mobile app and made it available in both Apple’s App Store and Google Play. The app, with new functions, is easy to use and aims to simply empower the members to better manage their MPF benefits. The app alerts users to Principal’s news and market information. ‘Dream Tour’, the exclusive function of our mobile app, allows users to record their daily income, expenses and MPF account balances, assisting them in seeing their progress towards their financial dreams.”

The mobile app, with an appealing interface and useful functions, has been widely accepted by the member users as well as professionals, and Principal won the award for ‘The Best of MPF App Service Provider’ in the “e-brand awards 2014”.

“We evaluate a client’s satisfaction level and identify areas of improvement by conducting a Client Satisfaction Survey annually. As the results show the high preference of adding fund-switching capability for the mobile app to make it more convenient and easier to switch funds, we have added a fund-switching function in December last year, so customers can reallocate their investment portfolio at their fingertips. The initiative again proves that we genuinely listen to customers and try our best to cater for their needs.”

Customer Orientation – An Evolving Tactic

Over the past year, as customers’ needs have changed and market competition has become keener, Principal adopted a more customer-oriented approach in customer service. Carmen explains: “We aimed to provide one-to-one solutions to customers’ requirements, direct communications with customers and effortless customer experiences. All these initiatives allow us to communicate our values to customers and help them overcome difficulties in MPF accounts management and retirement planning, in turn establishing authentic relationships between Principal and customers.” BM

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致力於責任管理

first-state劉國傑是首域盈信的大中華投資總監。首域盈信是首域投資旗下的團隊,負責管理亞太區、全球新興市場和世界其他地區股票。他於 2002年4月加入團隊。劉國傑負責亞太區及大中華區投資組合的股票篩選以及投資組合建構。他擁有劍橋大學文學學士及工程學碩士學位。他同時亦是特許財務分析師。

今年,首域的投資團隊再次贏得多個獎項,涵蓋亞洲股票、中國股票、香港股票及新興市場股票類別。此外,首域亞洲股本優點基金(First State Asian Equity Plus Fund)及首域印度次大陸基金(First State Indian Subcontinent Fund)獲得同級最佳的殊榮,而首域大中華增長基金(First State Greater China Growth Fund)則贏得「傑出表現獎」。

首域大中華區投資總監劉國傑表示:「我們的投資理念乃建基於『可持續投資』。我們深信,可持續的公司持倉,對於我們所有投資組合能否提供長期回報而言至關重要。我們是長 線投資者,致力於作出五年期的投資決策,我們的所有投資決定乃據此而定。」

緊密管理

首域以「責任管理」作為其投資原則。投資團隊基於這個概念管理亞太區、全球新興市場以及其他環球股票策略。劉國傑表示:「我們認為,我們的工作是將客戶的資金分配至有良好增長前景及強大管理團隊的優質公司,並確保我們為這些投資支付合理價錢。這裡每一筆投資都是代表客戶所作的買入決定,這不僅僅是一張紙或電子股票,而是帶有權利和責任的實際業務的一部份。我們相當重視這些權利和責任。」

首域的投資管理風格主張基金經理要緊記絕對回報的原則。劉說:「即是將『風險』定義為客戶的投資有金錢上的損失,而不是偏離了任何基準指數。我們跟進投資決定當中的潛在下行風險,與推算升值預期同樣出力。我們旨在透過投資於定位良好,能受惠於其經營業務所在地之可持續發展,並且能促進自身可持續發展的企業的股票,以產生具吸引力的長期經風險調整回報。」

首域的投資方式是由徹底分析個別公司本身做起,而非純粹根據行業界別或國家作投資決定。研究的目的是識別出可提供可持續的長期每股收益增長,並且價位合理的優質公司。劉表示:「我們的投資風格綜合了所有市場的價值和增長偏差。我們不會以基準作為選股或管理投資組合的標準,因為我們認為基準並不能確切反映有潛力的投資領域。」

「我們的投資風格本質上是防守性的,著眼於具備強勁現金流、低負債,以及派息率持續增長等特質的企業。我們揀選企業時,亦著重其非數字範疇,例如權益組合、管理層承諾、繼任人規劃等較難量化的事宜。我們亦會留意企業的管理質素,以及過往制定和執行長遠戰略的能力。對我們來說,商業專營權和財務狀況亦是關鍵因素。我們非常關注企業在社會及環境方面的可持續發展能力。當我們認為企業未能盡到在這些範疇的責任時,我們會要求其著手處理。我們傾向選擇能長期提供穩定及可預測現金流增長的公司,並認為增長過快的公司通常會出現問題。」

絕對回報思維

首域的投資組合風險管理,建基於「客戶最希望其投資的下行風險越低越好」這一信念。劉國傑說:「我們將風險定義為實際上有金錢損失的可能性,而不是表現不如基準指數的機率。換言之,我們不會將風險視為一個相對概念,而是以「絕對回報思維」進行管理。我們建立投資組合時,會著眼於做得對的地方,同時亦不會忽略任何潛在的失誤。」

因著這種絕對回報思維,首域認為基金能避免被「市場過度亢奮」沖昏頭腦。劉說:「我們並不否認基準指數在較長時期的效用,但基準指數不能用來決定投資決策。我們認為,每間優質的公司都有其公允價值,而沒有一個單一的全面估值方法能評定這價值。因此,估值是極為重要的。我們力求確保我們就投資支付的價錢合理。」

在風險管理和企業管治分析方面多下功夫,是「絕對回報思維」不可或缺的一部份。劉表示:「在嚴守這規則下,我們的基金能擁有比同業更出色的長遠表現。」 BM

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