Financial Planning / Wealth Management

Commercial banking sector presents challenge and opportunities to career-oriented aspirants

by John Chan

David Kwok
managing director and chief executive
Shanghai Commercial Bank Ltd
Photo: Wallace Chan

Established bank leads through business complexity and volatility to an enhanced environment

As the mainland economy continues its upward stride, Hong Kong's banking and finance sector is providing local talent unprecedented exposure to the market and enormous scope for professional growth.

"Doing business in the mainland is the way forward," says David Kwok, managing director and chief executive, Shanghai Commercial Bank Ltd. "Cross-border connections will continue to burgeon as new RMB products emerge and service delivery gets increasingly sophisticated. A career in the commercial banking field will present a wealth of challenge to its people since there is a lot to learn."

Mr Kwok believes now is an opportune time for motivated, career-driven individuals to tap into the commercial banking sector. "With the US, Japan and European markets remaining sluggish, China will no doubt be the major growth engine for the Hong Kong banking industry in the next decade," he says.
"As trade increases between Mainland China and the rest of the world and Hong Kong becomes the global RMB hub, banking institutions in the city are expanding their commercial banking capability and there will be a strong and continuous demand for competent relationship managers to serve the commercial banking needs of both local and mainland companies."

The banking industry revolves around the very concept of serving people. "Over the years, we have helped our corporate customers to steer the chopping waters of business. Our dedication, commitment and expertise contribute to the trusting relationships between our customers and us. This is one aspect that makes a career in the field particularly rewarding and satisfying."

Vital roles
Hong Kong's wealth management professionals play a vital role in driving the future development of the industry. "The industry is still in a development phase," Mr Kwok observes. "However, it has become an important part of our financial system."

For this reason, he says, wealth management professionals must pursue every avenue to enhance their professional image, and explore their professional strength in order to capitalise on the increased demand of related services and expertise. "These professionals are expected to raise the bar when it comes to industry standards. Their roles are to enhance their company's profile and refine their client servicing models to their own advantage as well as the industry's overall benefit."

The overwhelming influx of market information keeps banking practitioners on their toes. "Banking customers nowadays are knowledgeable and demanding. Therefore, more is expected of banking practitioners," Mr Kwok notes.

The bank put together a multi-disciplined team which essentially provides differentiation from its competitors. "We aim at providing our customers more options and ensure that they interpret and respond to market information in a timely and appropriate fashion."

Currently, the bank provides customised one-stop financial solutions to a cross-section of commercial customers including small- and medium-sized businesses to publicly listed companies. These include commercial lending, trade finance, bilateral and syndication loans, property investment loans, treasury services and insurance.

"We take pride in our role as a reliable financial partner," emphasises Mr Kwok. "We listen and attend to the specific business needs of our customers and provide tailored banking solutions to meet their strategic objectives."

Growing prominence
Healthy competition drives continuous enhancement in the marketplace. High-profile industry events such as the annual Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB) Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards help to facilitate talent management in Hong Kong's banking industry.

Mr Kwok agrees. "Healthy competition creates new benchmarks for talent management in Hong Kong's banking industry," he says.

"This event recognises best-in-class individual performance and contributes to the greater good of the wider industry," he remarks. "The Hong Kong's banking industry has experienced a great deal of changes and now with the character of banking professionals being equally important as their acumen, the awards candidates must showcase their best professional attributes as well as dynamic interpersonal skills."

He asserts that the competitive nature of the current financial market encourages professional upgrades and that the best opportunities will go to people who are able to demonstrate specialist skills that add value to customers and the industry at large.

In view of the increasing significance of talent development to business sustainability, Mr Kwok says a commitment to staff development helps to attract and retain good employees. "We encourage our staff to ride on our support in their pursuit of higher academic qualifications and professional credentials," he reveals. "They are also encouraged to attend conferences and seminars organised by reputable local and overseas institutes."

The bank has also incorporated the HKIB's professional training programmes into its own training schedule aside from encouraging its high-achievers to enrol in the HKIB Outstanding Financial Management Planner Awards.

Commercial success

  • Banking sector provides exposure and growth opportunities
  • Cross-border connections continue to burgeon
  • Banking institutions expand their commercial banking capability
  • HKIB programmes a staff training and development component

Taken from Career Times 16 September 2011

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