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A Journey in Progress – FA Advisory

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FA Advisory Sdn Bhd is all about providing impartial financial advice that is in its clients’ best interest.

By Bernie Yeo

If there’s a word to define FA Advisory, it would be ‘progress’.

This takes precedence over terms like ‘success’ or ‘achievement’, FA Advisory Sdn Bhd general manager Bryan Zeng muses. This is simply because the financial advisory firm adopts a progressive culture that allows its practitioners to be forward-looking in their unwavering purpose of helping their clients navigate their financial journey.

“We don’t believe in the status quo. As an organisation, we must continue to progress, and because of that we move the organisation towards innovation. We continue to innovate our processes, and build robust infrastructure so we are able to support our financial practitioners to carry out their duties to the highest standards of professional advice,” he tells Smart Investor.

But first, a quick history of FA Advisory.

Established in 2009 under the name Uniplan Advisory Sdn Bhd, the Kuala Lumpur-based firm changed its name to FA Advisory in 2013 when it became a member of the Financial Alliance Group based in Singapore which is, today, the largest independent financial advisory firm in Singapore.

Home to 67 licensed financial planners across Malaysia, FA Advisory is a one-stop centre for wealth management and financial planning solutions. It offers professional and unbiased advisory services based on detailed analyses of their clients’ financial situations and goals.

This is followed up with the firm’s capability to implement financial solutions – drawn from their comprehensive range of wealth management services – that best suit their clients’ needs, thus allowing them to enjoy flexibility in mixing and matching the financial benefits they seek.

Navigating the turbulent times

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced businesses of all kinds to rethink how they work and interact with customers. While this is very much the case, it is business as usual for FA Advisory.

“What we do is regularly engage and communicate with our clients. We do this through various means, including holding talks where we invite our clients to either educate or inform them of the happenings in the markets, and this has been done since day one,” Zeng reveals.

And so, when the pandemic hit, FA Advisory diversified their touchpoints and increased the frequency of their outreach. This is done by making full use of online meetings/webinar facilities, as well as social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.

Despite the convenience offered by technology, Zeng is quick to point out that the significance of personal engagements is still very much emphasised in their daily operations.

“During the first month of the Movement Control Order (MCO), we held daily Zoom meetings with our financial planners to communicate, empower, share, and learn from each other,” he recalls, adding their financial planners in turn reached out to their clients with personal telephone calls and messages to show care and encouragement.

As FA Advisory is about the client, and providing the client with the best possible financial advice, Zeng reveals that when the pandemic led to a nationwide MCO, there were a myriad of issues impacting their clients’ lives.

“We acted swiftly to provide relevant information to enable our clients to make the right decisions. We have created over 15 YouTube videos to address the concerns related to the stock market volatility. In addition, we have been hosting a bi-weekly webinar on market updates for our clients since March,” he says.

In fact, the team at FA Advisory had rallied together to create infographics, slides and webinars to guide their clients on the deferment of life insurance premium payments and loan moratorium, alongside other Covid-19 relief initiatives by government agencies and private sectors.

“It warms our hearts when we receive acknowledgement and messages of appreciation from our clients. If anything, the pandemic has strengthened our resolve and conviction in our mission to champion purposeful financial advice for our clients and elevate life quality for all,” says Zeng.

The road ahead

Financial planning as an industry has witnessed an impressive growth over the past few years, and the pandemic has all but accelerated it as the awareness about financial planning continues to grow and consumers become more informed.

So, what does this mean for the industry?

“One of the things that the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us is the importance of being financially prudent. Even as Malaysia progresses towards becoming a high-income and developed nation, the demand for quality advice will continue to grow, and the industry will offer a great career path for young people,” Zeng opines.

Positive growth notwithstanding, he cautions there are various challenges ahead. Among these is that we live in an age of information overload, with misinformation, fake news and outright scams threatening the financial well-being of individuals and households at unprecedented speed and reach.

“We must play our part to continue promoting financial literacy and dispensing sound financial advice to members of the public. The advent of fintech has disrupted the financial services industry by empowering consumers with innovative products and myriad choices with great efficiency.

“Thus, the job of a financial planner is increasingly demanding, and as a firm, we are constantly building our advisory capabilities to address the increasingly complex needs of tomorrow’s consumers.”

As such, continues Zeng, the future of financial planning will definitely be client-driven.

“We believe we are in a good position to capitalise on this as our business model has always been client-centric with a personal touch. We are delighted to be in this rewarding profession that enables us to make a meaningful contribution to improve people’s lives,” he concludes.

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