While there are many success factors to developing and operating a successful business – from laying out frameworks to executing strategies and aligning work with organizational goals – client relationships are paramount.
This has been central to the personal philosophy of Alice Quek, Head of Private Clients for the Asia region at leading corporate, private client, and fund services provider, Hawksford.
With deep-rooted expertise in client advisory work, as well as growing existing business in banks and trust companies, Alice plays a fundamental role in developing new markets, while deepening existing client and intermediary relationships.
At Hawksford, Alice leads the private client business in Asia and handles a significant number of high and ultra-high net worth individuals (HNWIs) and their families, providing them with support and advice to manage their assets, protect their wealth and facilitate its harmonious transfer to the next generation.
The globalization of wealth has unlocked a vast number of prospective investment opportunities as families seek a more personalized and sophisticated approach to the management of their assets. The new generation of wealth owners have very different priorities and investment philosophies to previous generations, so knowing and understanding the client has never been of greater importance.
This has been a central pillar of Alice’s career and she has developed and refined this approach to engaging with her clients and creating strong connections to ensure she can deliver bespoke succession and legacy planning solutions that are tailor-made to meet their unique needs.
She notes: “I have known some of my clients for more than 20 years, and I have educated them on the developments in the financial services industry and how various sectors within the industry can work together to better meet their needs.”
A Learning Excursion
Motivated by Singapore’s founding father, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, Alice was taught discipline and resilience from a young age. When Alice first stepped into leadership roles in an international private bank in Singapore thirteen years ago, she consistently cultivated multiple teams to develop new business markets.
However, as leadership styles evolved over the years – from the traditional-hierarchy-based structure to the current servant leadership style – Alice understands the key to good and effective leadership is managing people’s feelings and emotions, empathically steering the business towards its objectives.
Alice mentions that as a business leader, the biggest challenge she faced was hiring suitable candidates. Every business’ success depends on putting together the right team who will develop synergies among the various business units. That is why she stays updated on industry developments and is always open to suggestions on how and where to make operational improvements.
Alice joined the financial services industry with degrees from the University of Melbourne and Nanyang Technological University, starting out in consumer, progressing into private banking and now operating in the private wealth sector.
Hawksford supports its clients by taking on the burden of regulatory, financial, and tax compliance, corporate governance, and reporting obligations. The private client team provides international and multi-generational succession planning solutions to families with varying wealth transfer requirements.
Despite the breadth of work, all activity is underpinned by the company’s commitment to keeping clients at the heart of everything they do and ‘Thinking Beyond Tomorrow’.
Alice believes that these are values that have been instrumental in developing meaningful and productive relationships and interactions with both clients and intermediaries.
By instilling and promoting these values across the company, it also creates a closely aligned culture which helps build employee confidence, bolstering the feeling of what the company can achieve and how its objectives are better met as a team.
This culture also resonates strongly with clients, showcasing expertise and confidence earned through experience, ultimately strengthening the perception of Hawksford and its teams as trusted advisors.
Embracing Technology and Innovation
Alice believes that understanding the wider industry is crucial to being able to give the best advice and building a strong rapport with clients.
One impossible-to-ignore trend is the ongoing integration and evolution of fintech, and over the next decade she expects the adoption of artificial intelligence to play a key role in the future development of the sector.
This is an area where Alice feels Hawksford is particularly strong, and into which the company has made significant investment on its journey to constantly improve the delivery of its services, from initial pitches to ongoing and longstanding client relationships.
With a strong culture founded on enthusiasm, ambition and entrepreneurialism, Hawksford recently adopted a hybrid working environment, empowering its people to apply these qualities and deliver intelligent and creative solutions to its clients.
Collectively, this will position the company well for the future, ensuring that the business operates more efficiently to stay ahead of the curve, placing it to respond quickly to emerging market opportunities.
It’s the constantly evolving nature of the industry that Alice finds most appealing, and is one factor that she believes will lead her to remain in the financial services sector, where she intends to continue growing and developing her expertise.
Alice’s goals at Hawksford are to support the business in reaching its aspiration of becoming the market leader in each of its various business sectors, the preferred choice for clients, and the partner of choice to its intermediaries.
This is where Alice believes that she can add the greatest value, developing strong and enduring relationships with the next generation of wealth owners who are more entrepreneurial and less risk-averse than the previous generation, and for whom brand new investment strategies will be required.
Alice advises aspiring entrepreneurs to understand both the wider financial services industry and their specific sector of choice inside and out in order to ensure you’re attracting and retaining the very best talent. She says, “Develop a compelling human resource strategy to hire the right candidates, lead them towards achieving the company’s objectives and goals, and encourage a natural inclination towards engaging with people from all walks of life.”
Alice concludes by reemphasizing that the industry is all about people. It is essential to engage well with people, to take the time and invest the resources to understand their needs and develop solutions that consistently meet and exceed their expectations.