Financial Planning / Wealth Management

Banking employer step up talent development

by Charles Mak

Teresa To
head of sales management
distribution strategy and management
Photo: Louis Lam
A career in the banking and finance industry provides plenty of thrills and spills

Hong Kong's banking industry is going through a torrent of change. Key players in the field are training their sights on talent development as a means to business sustainability.

Leader of the pack, HSBC aims to accomplish this through a number of initiatives. For instance, with an ultimate aim to facilitating the development of its expanding sales force, the bank immerses its new joiners in a dedicated on-boarding training programme.

This is coupled with tried and tested mentoring and buddy systems, which help new staff members to quickly integrate into the dynamic team.

Continuous advancement follows and is expected of all the bank's staff, notes Teresa To, head of sales management, distribution strategy and management, HSBC.

To ensure that its sales professionals are equipped with a wide spectrum of skills and knowledge in their own fields and beyond, the bank maintains a training pipeline, which is filled with an extensive range of best practice workshops, idea exchange forums plus an exhaustive series of online learning initiatives.

"Our staff on the sales front are backed by a resourceful team of investment and insurance specialists," Ms To reveals. "This helps them to discharge their daily duties with confidence and deliver quality."

In view of the changing nature of the banking and finance industry in Hong Kong, HSBC aligns its service and product portfolio with market trends, as well as shifting customer expectation, financial needs and behaviour.

"Customer feedback provides useful insights into the design of our services and products," emphasises Ms To. Recent increases in the demand for wealth accumulation and protection products underscore the intricacy of customer relations, which is maintained through skills and dedication on the part of the bank's wealth management staff.

Aside from additional resources for enhancing customer experience, customer segmentation also comes into play. For example, the bank in March this year spearheaded an EarlyIncome Annuity Plan for customers aged between 50 and 75. "The plan offers a guaranteed income stream as early as one year after the policy issued. This makes the plan more suitable for customers who are approaching retirement," Ms To explains.

Product innovation and customer experience enhancement may help to acquire new customers and increase market share, but Ms To emphasises that it is down to the quality of customer interaction to generate and sustain business momentum.

Human capital

A career in the fast-paced banking industry is highly viable especially for ambitious, career-driven people who look for challenge and love the adrenaline rush that comes with the job. "The job itself must be rewarding and entails a sense of achievement," Ms To remarks. "The diversity of the banking industry provides aspiring individuals with ample opportunity to explore and unleash their potential."

Talent development has always been a priority and strategic advantage of HSBC, according to Ms To. "We consider human resources one of our most important assets," she confirms.

However, the post-tsunami recruitment market has been extremely robust and heated competition for competent talent will continue to confront employers in the banking industry.

"Most of the financial institutions in Hong Kong have been expanding aggressively in a bid to increase their market share," Ms To notes. "It is now more challenging to retain talented banking professionals than before."

To combat this, the bank makes a point to review career roadmaps on a regular basis to create opportunities for staff to achieve their professional goals, she reveals, adding that the bank's managers are also tasked with identifying high potential staff for higher positions.

"There is a lot of hype around concepts of work-life balance these days," Ms To states. As such, HSBC implements a number of initiatives like birthday leave, early time-off on special occasions and flexi-hours. This essentially draws the bank closer to its aspiration of becoming "the best place to work".

In line with its belief in enhancing the competitive edge of practitioners in the banking and financial industry, HSBC has been supporting The Hong Kong Institution of Bankers (HKIB) Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards.

"The HKIB is a highly respected organisation, which has been providing education and training the to local banking community for more than 40 years," Ms To points out. "As a result of the HKIB's efforts, the general public is now more aware of the importance of financial planning and risk management to achieving their life goals."

She says that the event contributes to uplifting the professional standards of the financial industry. "This annual event not only recognises outstanding individual performance but also promotes professionalism and industry development."

The bank's personnel have won a number of top honours in the event over the years. "Our achievements and support for the HKIB Awards demonstrate our belief in and are evidence of our commitment to staff development," Ms To concludes.

Top priorities

  • Talent development a means to business sustainability
  • Training pipeline filled with best practice workshops, idea exchange forums and online learning initiatives
  • Customer interaction generates and sustains business momentum
  • The HKIB has been providing education and training to the local banking community for more than 40 years

Taken from Career Times 5 August 2011, A8

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