Corporate Banking

Asian strength supports bank's service concept

Teresa Lin
Managing director and joint group head corporate and investment banking, DBS Bank Limited

Sophisticated customers expect high standards in all areas, which has prompted one leading Asian bank to develop a "product plus, service plus" concept

"Nowadays it's not just about selling financial products, but offering advisory services as well," says Teresa Lin, managing director and joint group head of corporate and investment banking for DBS Bank.

This means offering clients everything from cash management and commercial lending to insurance services and treasury, while assisting businesses to achieve their goals by providing all the necessary support.

"In the area of enterprise banking, we are focusing more on the needs of medium-sized enterprises," Ms Lin says. "We want to strengthen our financial services in different ways and increase our reach outside Hong Kong." A proactive approach is used and includes organising trade shows to attract potential clients.

She adds that most medium-sized enterprises are cash rich, but that not all are aware of the importance of risk management. They may also have investment plans in the Greater China market and need advice if considering merger or acquisition opportunities. "We look to match our financial services with the client's needs and try to think ahead and anticipate their likely requirements," Ms Lin explains.

China challenge

When the bank began to expand its presence actively in mainland China in 2003, hiring good staff proved to be a major challenge. However, as the branch network expanded and the DBS name became known, it became much easier to attract potential recruits. "We built a reputation through word of mouth and those efforts have been rewarded. I believe that DBS is not just any foreign banks, but one that is born and bred in Asia, and is appealing to a lot of potential candidates," Ms Lin says.

The priority for the bank's advisory services is to keep looking ahead. This requires a combination of experience, having the right approach, and possessing the ability to innovate. Consequently, staff are expected to have a good academic background and to be creative and receptive to change. In the workplace, they must also display perseverance and enthusiasm.

"They should be dedicated to offering good banking services and be ready to work hard," notes Ms Lin. Since the bank believes in "cross fertilisation", employees are encouraged to transfer between departments. The intention is to bring new ideas to different offices and allow staff to gain broader experience, while exchanging thoughts and opinions about areas for possible improvement.

"In a competitive recruitment market, we want to make sure staff can see career progression," says Ms Lin. This comes through courses, on-the-job training and e-learning programmes, which cover industry knowledge and various soft skills.

"Integrity is also very important when providing banking services based on trust, so we require all staff to comply with the code of ethics and respect our regulations," she adds.

DBS has its group headquarters in Singapore and sees itself as having an advantage in Asian markets, as well as in Greater China. Ms Lin remains positive about the long-term outlook for enterprise banking. "I believe the market will see some ripples in the short term, but since most enterprises are still cash rich, they will need professional advice and services to help them manage costs, expansion and business risk," she says.


  • Offering advisory services are supplementary to selling financial products
  • Proactive approaches including trade shows are adopted to attract potential clients
  • Matching financial services with client's needs are pivotal to business development
  • Hiring good staff is a major challenge but the bank's reputation makes it easier to attract potential recruits
  • "Cross fertilisation" brings new ideas to different offices and allow staff to gain broader experience

Taken from Career Times 19 May 2006
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