Money Moves

Banking on future leaders

by Nicolette Wong

Wing Lung Bank - Talent management
Frankie Kwong, treasurer
Wing Lung Bank
Photo: Edde Ngan

Home-grown financial institution takes talent management to a new level

Considering fast-growing cross-border banking activities, major Hong Kong banks are stepping up efforts to train a new generation of flexible, professional all-rounders. Wing Lung bank's Graduate Trainee Programme, redesigned and re-launched in 2011, is one example of innovative, diversified talent management in this sector.

Wing Lung Bank has been expanding rapidly since becoming a subsidiary of China Merchants Bank Group, and its comprehensive training programme is essential to support business expansion, explains Frankie Kwong, treasurer, Wing Lung Bank. The bank's various departments have different recruitment needs; hence, candidates are selected for the programme based on the promise they show for specific job roles.

"We chose one trainee for the treasury department this year. The selection process is rigorous, since the job function requires specialised knowledge in core areas, including foreign exchange, money markets, capital markets, product development, sales and marketing. Candidates must have an aptitude for figures, exceptional attention to detail and outstanding interpersonal skills."

The performance of the trainee in the treasury department will be reviewed every three months to facilitate smooth and continuous learning. The candidate is steadily rotating through different teams, from trading and product design to sales and marketing. Team heads monitor the candidate's progress and make appropriate adjustments to the on-the-job training. Mr Kwong also regularly communicates with the trainee to identify any special training needs.

Wide-ranging responsibilities

Besides the knowledge and skills sets gained at the treasury department, collaboration with, and job rotations through, other business units are vital to learning about the operations of the bank's various front and back offices, broadening the trainee's perspective on the banking business, Mr Kwong stresses.

"This is also essential for a trainee's future career as manager, since he or she will in future oversee cooperation with other units, financial institutions in the industry, the regulator and mainland business partners."

Mr Kwong believes immersion in the mainland business environment is a key aspect that sets the initiative apart from others in the industry. Candidates spend three months at a mainland-based China Merchants Bank or Wing Lung Bank branch, giving them a valuable opportunity to gain direct exposure to mainland management culture and business practices. This is an indication of the bank's commitment to the trainees' long-term development, helping them become analytical thinkers that are able to lead cross-border business initiatives.

"Our trainees are actively engaged in a wide range of job duties, and they're dedicated to learning and broadening their skills sets," notes Mr Kwong. "The in-depth, practical training instills a real sense of responsibility and confidence in our talented young recruits."

Since there is a heavy emphasis on accuracy within the treasury department, an assigned mentor closely monitors and guides the trainee, ensuring that all work procedures are executed correctly and offering feedback for further improvement.

A trainee's team head and mentor also deliver regular progress reports to Mr Kwong. If a candidate's performance has been satisfactory, he or she is also given opportunities to attend business meetings with managers to gain broader exposure.

Career prospects

A career in treasury calls for exceptional levels of professionalism and integrity, as well as a sincere interest in collaborating with business partners and meeting their needs, Mr Kwong points out. A genuine passion for the finance sector is essential, since a candidate must work hard to obtain the professional qualifications that he or she needs for building a solid career foundation. Good concentration is of the utmost importance, as treasury professionals must strive to be error-free at work.

Prospective applicants should be prepared for a tough selection process, Mr Kwong advises. They should do ample research and get advice from industry professionals to get them off to a good start. They must show confidence, initiative and a flair for cultivating interpersonal relationships at their interviews.

"We seek people with insight and a real interest in the functional areas they're looking to join. They should be humble, willing to learn and sincere. In addition, they should be calm and pleasant in their interactions with others."

Candidates that are accepted onto the programme can look forward to long-term career progress with Wing Lung Bank, Mr Kwong says. Graduate trainees that excel in their junior management roles may be promoted to team-head positions, and subsequently be promoted to senior management roles, depending on performance.

"Our teams are expanding at a fast pace, along with Wing Lung Bank's business, so we have ample opportunities for capable people with drive," Mr Kwong concludes.

Only the best

  • Wing Lung bank's Graduate Trainee Programme trains flexible, professional all-rounders
  • Trainees spend time in different teams or units and on tailor-made job attachments
  • Mentors closely monitor and guide trainees
  • A career in treasury calls for exceptional levels of professionalism and integrity

Taken from Career Times 4 May 2012, A3

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