As Wealth Management Manager at AIA International Limited, Lorraine Law CPA is responsible for providing bespoke wealth and investment solutions to her clients. She tells A Plus what she enjoys about working in the insurance industry and how the pandemic changed the way she handled customer relationships
What is your current role and responsibilities? How is it going so far?
As Wealth Management Manager at AIA International Limited, I provide wealth and investment management services to our clients. This involves listening to their needs and requests, and then putting together a customized and personalized risk, wealth and investment plan for them. I also help my clients with family insurance planning and long-term trust planning for my family offices clients. I find the role meaningful. I’ve been in the insurance industry for four years, and it’s satisfying seeing how insurance helps people. For example, when one of my clients faces an emergency, they might call me and ask how to process an insurance claim and whether there’s any other advice I can provide, such as which professional specialized doctors and hospitals to refer to. I appreciate being able to help clients in this way.
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role, and why?
When it comes to working in the insurance industry, sometimes our clients may need extra help understanding insurance concepts and products. Many of them may think that insurance is simply for insurance companies to make money and that they aren’t able to claim any of it at the end, or after investing in our wealth management services. So the most challenging aspect of the role is informing people about how the insurance industry has improved, how it is regulated, how our products are reliable, and the importance of being insured. Our purpose is to help people manage their risks. I joined this role right before the pandemic, so it was very difficult to meet with my clients, many of whom are high-net-worth individuals in Mainland China. Lockdowns and previous travel restrictions meant that they couldn’t come to Hong Kong, and due to the company’s compliance requirements, we aren’t allowed to sell our products and services offshore. Plus, our clients prefer to talk about wealth planning in person. It was crucial to maintain communication and build relationships with them during those difficult times. Sometimes it was a case of calling the clients just to say hello and asking how they are, and most of them appreciate the greeting and catch-up. I still regularly call them to provide updated market news and product information, send reminders on premium renewals and help them to process their applications for claims. These challenges have helped us to bond, and I learned that overcoming difficulty all comes down to attitude. This makes it an interesting and rewarding industry to work in. Not only do I have to apply my analytical skills, but also soft skills to build strong relationships with clients and communicate with them in a kind and genuine manner.
What inspired you to become an accountant?
I come from a family of accountants – my grandfather was an accountant, as well as my aunt, uncle and cousin. Hong Kong is a global financial hub, so I knew that by becoming an accountant, I would have a lot of career opportunities. When I was working at the Big Four, I was assigned to the financial institution department. There, I learned a lot about initial public offerings, fundraising and the fund industry. It really broadened my horizons and I came to understand how the financial world works, especially in Hong Kong. I’m proud to have passed the CPA exam and attained this qualification, which has helped me a lot and allows people to put their trust in me as a wealth management manager. Of course, my parents were very proud that I became an accountant as well.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned so far from work experience or managers?
Learning how to manage people. After working in the finance industry for almost 10 years, I’ve found that people management skills are highly important, especially when it comes to managing the expectations of your reporting line. As a member of middle management, it’s important that I know how to ensure we are all cooperating well. It’s also crucial to know how to handle stakeholders. In my previous role as manager at Fidelity International, a financial services company, there were a lot of ongoing projects requiring us to work with different teams and manage the expectations of our stakeholders. Also, learning how to present is important. I often have to present our findings to different stakeholders in a short amount of time, so it’s about ensuring that the presentation is short, clear and direct.
How do you think the Qualification Programme (QP) has helped you in your career so far, or prepared you for your current role?
Each QP module helped to shape my knowledge in different aspects of accounting. I found the financial reporting and corporate financing modules to be very helpful when I began my career as an auditor at Deloitte, especially in dealing with financial statements. The taxation module is the most helpful in my current role, as I need to answer a lot of clients’ questions on a day-to-day basis. For example, they might ask the differences between starting a limited and unlimited liability company, and the tax implications for the two. Though I’m not a tax specialist, the knowledge I developed from taking the taxation module helps me to share my views with my clients in my current position. After coming out to work, I finally realized why the QP focuses on certain topics, which makes it a very practical programme.