'Our job is to explain the big picture'
What do your responsibilities at LGT involve?
I assist LGT’s Asian-based clients with the non-investment aspects of their wealth planning; basically, this means that I help clients with everything that has to do with money other than the process of managing it. I am a lawyer by profession, and this enables me to work with clients on their trust structuring, succession planning and their tax planning needs. Often, clients are seeking help in setting up a trust or planning for “big life” events such as marriage, education or moving overseas.
Increasingly, I am involved with helping our clients with their philanthropy planning. Additionally, I also spend a lot of time developing LGT’s Asian business, as well as serving on its executive board in Asia.
What sort of questions do clients ask you about tax and setting up a trust?
Frequently, people come to us because they are not sure what they should do, but they know they need to do something. Often, they have partial information or misinformation. Our job is to explain the big picture. Often in Hong Kong, there is a rush to get things done and details can be overlooked. Our job is to ensure the details are not overlooked.
You worked for more than 10 years with a large international bank. What is the difference now that you are working for a smaller organisation?
The biggest difference is culture. At LGT, it is about values – the bank has a personality and a belief which is clearly defined by the understanding that our clients come first. I have experienced first-hand what happens in a large organisation when a strong culture becomes diluted. Without a unique culture, an organisation that had values just becomes a machine and the values that originally drove that company become lost.
Are you noticing growth in the philanthropy side of your business?
As wealth continues to mature in Hong Kong, we are seeing more and more people wanting to give back to the community. A few years ago, clients may have requested a meeting once a month to talk about philanthropy. Now, it is hardly surprising if clients want to have meetings to discuss this topic five times as often. They take their philanthropy activities equally as seriously as any investment. It is wonderful to see how our clients use their charities and philanthropic activities to involve family members in giving back to the community.
What are your goals and objectives at LGT?
It might sound like a standard answer, but taking a long-term view, we want to be one of the pre-eminent financial institutions in Asia and employ the best talent in the market. That being said, we have no intention of becoming a behemoth and sacrificing our unique culture and values. We are lucky in the fact that LGT Group has been privately owned for over 90 years by the Princely House of Liechtenstein. The LGT Group operates as a family business which has the stability to focus on long-term goals. It may be a coincidence, but we have a disproportionate number of endurance athletes who work here and understand that sustaining the bank’s success is a marathon, not a sprint.
What do you look for in your team of relationship managers?
Our relationship managers need to understand our culture, have good judgment and be entrepreneurial. Most importantly, they need to be good listeners. If they don’t listen well, they will not be able to implement their client’s needs. To support them, we have a substantial number of local in-house experts, including a 24-member investment team and professionals to help with structuring and navigation of the changing regulatory landscape.
What do you like about your work?
I like working in an environment where the focus is truly on the client. Our workplace is also one where integrity and tradition have a strong place. We take our lead on this from our owners. This family has maintained its wealth for multiple generations and they have done it without sacrificing its values. I also like the fact that our employer trusts us with the freedom to make our own decisions and to decide what’s best, both for our clients and for ourselves.
What is the career journey that has brought you to your current role?
I hold a BA in psychology and a law degree, both from the University of British Columbia. I am qualified to practice law in California, Washington, and British Columbia and am also a member of the Law Societies of Hong Kong and England and Wales, respectively. Prior to joining the LGT Group, I was an executive director with a major international bank where for over 10 years I was the head of its strategic wealth advisory Asian team.
During that time I was based in Hong Kong and was responsible for advising private clients on the areas of cross-border tax planning, pre-IPO structuring, succession planning and philanthropy for clients throughout Asia.
Vicky Wong, Managing Director and Head of Key Client Solutions, LGT Bank (HK)