An Interview with
Lai Chong Au
Group Deputy CEO
Delta Asia Financial Group
Delta Asia Financial Group is a full-fledged banking and financial services conglomerate operates across Hong Kong and Macau. The group owns Banco Delta Asia S.A., Delta Asia Insurance Ltd. in Macau, Delta Asia Securities Ltd., Delta Asia Capital Ltd., Delta Asia Financial Futures and Delta Asia Wealth Management Ltd. in Hong Kong. The Group is dedicated to service both enterprises as well as individuals with wide arrays of commercial, investment, brokerage, lending, asset management as well as international properties solutions.
9 June 2021
Tell us about your background, and what are you most passionate about?
Having been over 20 years of experience in finance and banking industry and returned to my family business (Delta Asia Financial Group) for around 5 years. I believe joining Delta Asia is a good (though can be challenging) business opportunity for me as well as its family business. Prior to Delta Asia, I was focusing in sales & marketing of asset management. It is always fascinating to meet different clients & investors from all walks of life and from different part of the world to learn & understand about their story.
I went to all-girls school until university. Because of this experience, I was educated about equality as well as learning to speak up and try our best on all things. Moreover, able to study in England, certainly expand my horizon and cultural diversity. With all these upbringing, I am passionate about people and community. Recently, I did a workshop on identify my core process and purpose, I look to sowing seeds, together we can grow, cultivate and make a difference to the world.
Apart from work, I love Muaythai, theatre & cinema, hiking and have joined a book club for my spare time. Work hard is important, but play (or relax) is also essential.
Describe a time you had to make a tough decision (e.g. budget cuts, organizational restructuring, market withdrawal, etc.). What did you do and what was the result?
Our business is undergoing major transformation, a lot of decisions have been made and, certainly, there are more to come. Delta Asia Financial Group is transforming from a retail bank & brokerage to offer a one stop shop wealth management services. Like any organisations in the industry, we need to prioritise resources to focus on areas we want to optimise return. And we need to re-engineer the way we operate, leading to the need of budget reallocation and restructuring. Honestly, prior experience does not necessarily mean making the next decision can be easier. But, I have since then calibrated a check-list to remind myself to be clear of the bigger picture and be clear with the stakeholders to get their input and support. I invest immense amount of time and energy to communicate both ways: I listen and I also have my voice heard. My decision making check-list indeed cumulates from success and also failure. Fortunately, there have been more success than failure. Delta Asia Financial Group is now stronger and more ready to serve much more clients with much broader set of product and services.
How would others define your communication style? Do you prefer to be close to your employees or maintain a healthy distance, and why?
My friends and colleagues have not commented on my communication style. I would say I am a developer and an analytical communicator most of the time with sharp listening skills. I enjoy going through facts and data to discuss and agree. I hope to recognize and cultivate the potential in others.
I don’t think there is a protocol currently to describe how my fellow colleagues interact with me or how I approach them. But noticeably, they always come to me at ease when they want to share with me information or seek opinion. So I would say I am rather close to them, and I am seeing the way of communication is gradually changing when the organization is growing in size. I endorse the need to redefine levels of communication for benefit of effective corporate governance, but I emphasize that voices must be rightly and sufficiently heard.
How has the industry been changing in recent years? What do you think are the biggest challenges your industry will face in the next 5 years?
There has been immense evolution in the industry no matter it be regulatory landscape, customer expectation, technology breakthrough, or product innovation. The very one thing I see as cutting edge would be customer centricity – the whole industry is finding new ways to gauge, analyse and build solutions to satisfy customer needs. We have seen solutions hitting the market much faster than before and being adopted more conveniently.
I can foresee that industry players will be racing to transform their way of operating to become best agile and capable in responding to customer needs and market changes. And I believe that driving the organization to embrace customer centricity is very challenging, as it is not talking about setting policies, but mind set change.
What personality traits make a good leader?
I have come across quite a number of good leaders, and I always see unique vision and purpose carried by them. Their commitment and confidence to drive through what they believe in is incredible. They are honest and have the courage to make tough decisions to keep going. Of course every leader has their own style in inspiring and motivating people, and people look upon their leaders for integrity. Above all, it would be even better if a leader can be empathetic because leadership is about people.
What does the future hold for your company?
There has been loads of research looking into how our economy has been built, and wealth cumulate from the generation of baby boomers to millennial. We have seen how wealth creators succeed and wealth preservers sustain. There will be more and more demand for good partners and service providers to support these individuals to plan, execute and timely review their wealth management strategies. When I say demand, it is not about simply selling financial products, but providing holistic solutions. Delta Asia has been working with many customers and clients in the past 85 years with a core belief that every customer is unique and we have to cater to their needs. We will continue to do so and we have committed to do even more to become one of the best local wealth manager in Hong Kong and in Macau.