Thursday, May 31, 2007

Become a Financial Advisor?

I am beginning to question this career path as an Financial Advisor. What I am sure is that I want to get sponsored for my licenses and my MBA. Apparently, you can't even take the Series 6 exam without a company sponsoring you.

Originally, I thought "Financial Analyst" was a glamarous title. Their job description is so technical. However, after some research, it seems like "Financial Advisor" is the better job that has the same compensation. Apparently, it is one of the top rated careers. It was ranked first a few years ago, and in 2006, it fell to 3rd place. In general, the job outlook is excellent. Job openings are increasing above average. Additionally, with the baby boomers and longer life expectancy, the need for financial advisors is increasing.

4 out of 10 financial advisors are self employed. Think of them as law consultants, but finance. Many Financial Advisors teach adult classes at night. This is their way to gain customer base. On the other hand, Financial Advisor retirees become professors as well.

To become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), there is an approximate of $500 exam fee, a 10-hour exam, and 3 years of experience as a Financial Planner or Financial Advisor. To become a Financial Advisor, I'll need my 2-3 years of experience as a sales assistant.

Financial Advisor works 9-5 pm. Unlike Investment Analysts (who work 60-70 hours a week), Financial Analysts (who work overtime at night for research), etc.

The only down side is the "stress" that comes with any sales position. You'd need to sell products, services, and convince others to give you their 6-figure salary to manage. According to one of the advices I read, you shouldn't seek for a Financial Advisor unless you make a 6-digit salary.

As Rob puts it, as a Financial Advisor, you make the rich get richer. Heh. At least, I will be able to make me richer, too~

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Ladder

I'm anxious to get my phone call to schedule the second interview. The path up the ladder seems clearer to me. The position that is offered requires 4 years of private client service sales, support, or equivialent. It also requires 3 licenses that I have not yet obtained. In other words, I already have a 4 year head start! I have been researching on the salary for the industry and my position. I know what I'm worth, and I wonder if I can negotiate my salary. I wonder how flexible they can be. Obviously, they're not "dying" to accept me. Everything happened so quickly. Depending on performance, an average of 2-3 years down the road, I will be opened to more options. At the time, I thought the financial advisor was referring to the possible advancement to become a financial advisor. Now that I think about it, it's very probable he was referring to that. The difference between an financial advisor and a sales assistant are 2 more licenses and 4 years of experience (according to their website). I suppose, the "4 yr of experience" is flexible when you are already a HSBC employee.

I love all of these licensing things. Originally, I wanted to go into the industry of actuary. Although I hate taking tests, passing each test increase their income in the actuary industry... as opposed to experience. I guess, obtaining these licenses, you are not as easily dispensable or replaceable.

On the other hand, I'm still confused in terms of structure. He is hiring a junior financial advisor. He does have a secretary. So, I know for a fact that I'm neither, but I definitely will learn to do his 6-figure job.

I have looked up the average salary for various positions in HSBC. HSBC's compensation is generally higher than average. In terms of "performance," I always thought it's really about whether or not your supervisor likes you. At least, I don't need to go out to get customers; they come to me. In the end, this seems to be the best opportunity that is out there for me now. I skipped my 4 years, and I didn't have to become a teller.

I like the Japanese's idea of "lifetime employment". Now that I found my way inside HSBC, I don't ever want to leave! (Of course, unless I'm offered a higher salary. lol)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Job Soon?

Last week, I went to a career fair that Rob's mom has coordinated in Flushing, NY, a Chinese community town. I didn't think much of career fairs. I didn't think dropping your resume and selling yourself to the representative would do anything. In a college career fair, there weren't many good employers, and I was only a fish in the sea. This time, however, was different. It was evident that she coordinated this career fair solely for my benefit. It's like having your own personal career fair.

Weeks before the day of the career fair, Rob and I joked about how she shouldn't invite anyone. This way, they'd have no one to choose but me. What happened was not far from what we wished. The day started out with me volunteering and running around to assist Rob's mom. Our goal was to get me recognized by giving them free lunch coupons, etc. Rob, on the other hand, was at the receptionist desk greeting the remaining employers that were late. When I returned, I learned that he was offered 2 jobs, sitting there in his jeans! Well, that's just not where his career is going. Too bad for them.

Sweats were literally dropped on my face, one by one. I was frustrated at first. So, I spent half an hour sitting, idling. Originally, I planned to visit Aflac's representative for their management trainee position. I am especially attracted to a management trainee program. After all, aside from Economics, I'm a business management major hoping to obtain my MBA degree. Unfortunately, they didn't show up that day. I also learned that John Hancock Financial was to attend the event; however, they, too, did not show.

The career fair was flooded with big corporations, government agencies, retail companies, and many companies with office in Flushing, NY, a town run by the Chinese community. In other words, MetLife, New York Life, and all of the insurance agencies blended in together. They all obviously wanted an insurance agent that can speak Cantonese and/or Mandarin. I was half delirious when I dropped my first resume with New York Life. I received a call from them, but I'm definitely not interested. After all, working in a Chinese community isn't really the most glamarous job.

Rob's mom had previously pointed out the branch manager for HSBC. Instead of waiting for her to introduce me to them, I visited their table. I spoke with a Vice President, Sales Manager of the branch in Flushing, NY. At that time, I thought he was the branch manager. He was somewhat informative. In the end, he just told me to give him my resume, and apply for a job he suggested on their website. If all fails, he told me to apply as a bank teller. Like every other applicants, I got a goodie bag. He included "A Brief History (of HSBC)" in my bag. He told me to study it, and I was the only person who received it. Minutes later, I asked Rob and my friend if he had received the same book. He said, everyone got it. Doh!

I rolled my eyes, and cursed the career fair. It was so pointless. All of the banking representatives adviced me to become a bank teller. I know what I am worth through other job offers and interviews. I definitely do not need to become a bank teller, especially when I'm getting an interview to become an assistant manager associate.

I forgot to mention that the career fair was filled with non-English speakers, Chinese elders asking me to translate what positions are offered, teeny boppers, and those who weren't even dressed appropriately. The only candidates that qualified was truly me, our friend, and his brother.

After 3 hours of chaos, the career fair ended. We ate our late lunch, and we went home. On our way back, HSBC called. A subordinate to the HSBC representative called to schedule an interview. So, today, I met him, a financial advisor for Securities, for an interview. The interview was half an hour long. I read that history book that I got, too! Apparently, as you probably can guess, HSBC stands for Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corporation. I always wondered if it was Hongkong Shanghai Bank of China or Heng Seng Bank of China. I guess I was wrong. Anyway, that book didn't help my interview.

So, the title for the Full Time position is Sales Assistant. The title definitely underrepresents the position. In general, my main responsibility is to assist the Financial Advisor. Apparently, an average financial advisor at that branch makes $120,000. That's a lot of dough! In terms of career path, ultimately, it prepares me to that 6-figure position.

Unlike the requirements below, mine was slightly different. I will be sponsored to take the courses and tests for a serie of licenses. I will have 3 months to obtain them, or else! 2-3 years down the path, depending on performance, more options will be available to me - one of which, of course, is to be a financial advisor. This branch at the Chinese community is much more prestigious than I imagined. Apparently, they have the top sales and revenue in the ENTIRE world! The financial advisor is one of the top sales in the whole world as well. His awards covered half of his desk. His subordinates have all turned out well. Keep in mind, he looked like he is in his 30s. One of his subordinate is "very pregnant," so despite the fact that she could have become a financial advisor already, she has chosen to become his secretary. Another subordinate of his has chosen the banking side; he became a premier banker - a top banker that handles high-end customers.

The position is very promising. It looks like I can learn a lot from the branch and the financial advisor. Most importantly, it's like the perfect job. I've always wanted a job in the glamarous investment banking industry. Then again, I didn't want to work 60-70 hours a week like them. With this, I'll be working in bank's business hours~

In terms of requirements, I am to manage assets professionally. i.e. Handle customers who are unhappy despite the fact that you made money for them. I am to speak Cantonese and (try to speak) Mandarin. Fortunately, Cantonese makes up around 60% of their customer base.

I was promised a second and final interview with his boss in Manhattan. It SEEMS like it's just a formality. Like, you really have to screw up to be rejected. I told them that my official availability date is not until the end of July. They are actually going to make arrangements to suit me. If I don't work at the Flushing Branch, they will send me to Manhattan. I guess, I'm fine with both. In the end, I think I will most definitely take the position as soon as it's offered.

Oh, I love large corporations! I can't wait until my MBA tuition gets reimbursed. I'm glad I went to the career fair. I definitely did NOT get any calls back by submitting my resume to their website! On the other hand, my salary has not been discussed yet. I suspect that it will be low... but I'm crossing my fingers.

And, hun, it looks like I'm closer to that 6-figure job! I'll let you be my secretary. *wink*

Job Description

Must have your Series 7 and 63 to apply for this position. This sales assistant position directly supports 1 or 2 Financial Advisors.

The incumbent provides sales support to Personal Investment Advisors to contribute to development and expansion of investment-related Private Client Services (PCS) relationships. Coordinates activities to contribute to achievement of volume, quality and profit objectives.

The principal accountabilities will be to serve as primary liaison with Financial Advisors (FA), Personal Investment Advisors (PIA), branches, customers and internal departments via in-person meetings or phone for marketing-related support, quality control monitoring and other performance-related disciplines required to expand, retain and attract further PCS sales-related activities. Assist in acquisition and maintenance of qualified clients; assist in the delivery of sales and investments. Work independently and in conjunction with the FA and PIA in identifying and acquiring new clients as well as maintaining existing accounts.

Coordinate the application process by ensuring collection and organization of all necessary application information for trade processing and/or higher management. Work with FA/PIA and customer to obtain information needed on a regular basis to audit, certify and update client files. Ensure policy exceptions are routed to the appropriate channels to ensure timely action. Generate and analyze specialized reports on sales activities as well as analytical and administrative support for the budgeting, forecasting and commission payment processes.

Adhere strictly to compliance and operational risk controls in accordance with Company and regulatory standards, policies and practices; report control weaknesses, compliance breaches and operational loss events. Complete other related duties as assigned, including coordinating relationships with external vendors supporting Private Client Services. Support the Company’s Diversity programs.

Requirements :

•Minimum of an Associate's Degree in Business, related field or equivalent experience
•Minimum of four years proven private client services sales and/or support experience or equivalent
•Series 7, 63 and Life and Health Insurance licenses
•Proven analytical, decision-making, interpersonal, communications, customer service, sales, problem-solving, multi-tasking and organizational skills
•Knowledge of brokerage products and services, operations supporting them and pertinent regulations affecting their delivery
•Proficiency with personal computers as well as pertinent mainframe systems and software packages

Sunday, May 27, 2007


In high school, I had to look up the meaning of my name. In short, the name Stephanie means crown.

Now that I am home, I have been digging through things, cleaning, and organizing things that have been long neglected. I found telephone bills from 2002. I also came across the above greeting card from Uncle Paul and Auntie Patricia. Although the card is as old as I am, I am actually quite familiar with it. Anyway, I thought it was interesting so I took a picture.

This is the greeting card on how I received my English name. Long story short... my cousins in the US decided on a name for me; subsequently, my aunt decided to include it on their card. And bam, I was named Stephanie by my cousins who have probably never even met my parents. Luckily, they didn't name me Madonna or something. In fact, I'm pretty satisfied with their decision.

The origin of my Chinese name is not any different. I got my Chinese name from family friends~

Monday, May 21, 2007


We graduated last Friday! It was cold and raining. Not to mention, the commencement was held at the outside stadium. Our parents met for the first time. Also, Rob has been seeing more and more of my relatives. He is even invited to family gatherings now~

Now that we have graduated, Rob has to study for his Dental Admission Test (and possibly Optometry Admission Test). I will be working part-time at home. Meanwhile, I should be working out to lose weight before the Bahamas. My family and I all got supersized over the winter.

My favorite picture and guy:

Behind is the apartment that we lived in. I'm going to miss cooking together everyday~

Our self-decorated caps

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Final Days on Campus

On our final days on campus, we used our cameras and camcorder to capture our college memories.

Below is part of a water fountain that our campus spent $3 million on. (Or, something like that). There is a silver tower to the left. Even today, I still don't know what it is. This is what you can do when you're rich - build something useless. (A man, by the name of Charles B. Wang, donated it.)

Here is one of the libraries that you go to socialize and not study.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Job Search (Continued)

My dream job is crushed. Originally, I REALLY wanted this position at HSBC to be an Accelerated Management Trainee. After 1 year, the person would manage a branch in Home Financing Corp. Unfortunately, I just found out that I have to be willing to relocate any where from Maryland to Maine. *sigh* There goes my dream.

I'm getting a phone interview with the Bank of America this week. The position is Assistant Manager Associate. I would start off as a personal banker and work my way (approx. 1-2 yrs) to become an Assistant Manager at a branch. I was really happy, until I read forums that Bank of America's salary is extremely low. It is almost half of what I was offered at Dai-Ichi Life.

Third, I received a staffing firm email for an accounting position at a large telecommunication firm. She asked me what my target salary is. Because I wasn't that interested to begin with, so I said $50k. (Just in case the high salary may change my mind about this undisclosed firm.) She said she would get back to me, because the employer wants someone to start in a week, and I won't be available until the end of June. Now, I am questioning if I should have aimed lower.

At last, another staffing firm has a 3-month temp position for Merrill Lynch. Ultimately, that's what I'm aiming for. It pays $24/hr or $29/hr bill rate. According to them, 8 out of 10 temps will acquire full time position at the investment banking department at Merrill Lynch. Then again, they told me to get back to them when it is closer to my official available date.

Anyhow, I have learned to negotiate with these staffing firms. I'm just worried that my carelessness in these negotiating process will take away everything. Heh~ On a positive note, my current supervisor likes me so much that she is allowing me to work "for as long as I like" at home. So, I will be working on my own schedule, and watching TV while I "work". Additionally, she's giving me a raise! =)

In the meantime, Rob and I are going on a cruise to the Bahamas for 7 days! We will be going on June 1oth. Pictures to come~