Money Moves

Competent leadership drives talent growth

by Wendy Shair

David Cheng
Assistant General Manager
Wing Lung Bank Ltd
Photo: Lewis Wong

Efficient operations management achieves manifold results

Veteran Hong Kong bankers have an increasing grasp of the importance of grooming young talent to support the regional hub's thriving finance sector. David Cheng, assistant general manager, Wing Lung Bank Ltd, is a case in point.

A seasoned banker in his own right, Mr Cheng has been in the banking and finance industry for more than three fruitful decades. He understands that only the right talent will help drive sustainable growth for the industry. For this particular reason, he points out, Wing Lung Bank regards its graduate trainee programme as an important aspect of developing banking expertise. "Our goal is to improve and streamline our operations management. Attracting young professionals to the industry through our training initiatives has become part of our strategy," he says.

The bank's graduate training is conducted over a 24-month period, sufficient time for the bank to assess each trainee's individual strengths. The programme includes classroom teaching of both soft and hard skills. "We also focus on fostering new recruits' theoretical and practical knowledge of our wide range of services, as well as cultivating the necessary skills for them to handle assigned projects," Mr Cheng notes, adding that practical operational training allows budding bankers to grow and ultimately meet their long-term goals.

"We're cautious when selecting candidates for the programme since we believe finding the right people will enable us to find success in our initiative and sustain the bank's long-term growth," he reveals. "We're also conscious that we need to help our trainees develop their full potential."

Talent alignment

Wing Lung Bank, which was established in 1933, has a long banking history in Hong Kong, but Mr Cheng stresses that this constitutes only part of the bank's future success. "Since the acquisition by China Merchants Bank in 2008, our business in Hong Kong and on the mainland has grown at an accelerating pace," he remarks. "Our Chinese background gives us an upper hand and prompts us to become more dynamic."

The bank's clientele is comprised of a growing number of high-calibre professionals with a thorough understanding of the financial markets. To achieve service enhancement, the bank recently stepped up measures to perk up operations management. One aspect of this is creating synergy between Hong Kong and mainland-based staff through exchange programmes, Mr Cheng explains.

"Hong Kong is a well-developed international market, while mainland China has huge banking potential. Exchange programmes between competent professionals from the two regions will therefore help to reinforce our management culture," he says.

The bank has also established a mentoring scheme, with graduate trainees assigned experienced people within the organisation for practical growth.

"The aim is to nurture talent who will have a good understanding of our requirements for providing support for the bank's operations and for offering outstanding, competitive and risk-controlled services," Mr Cheng adds. "This will help us to advise clients of appropriate solutions, and create a win-win situation for Wing Lung and its customers."

Lead by example

With a strong banking track record of more than 34 years in both US and Europe-based banks, Mr Cheng joined Wing Lung in December 2010. "I'm fortunate to have worked for a number of reputable financial organisations," he points out. "I enjoy my job and always make the effort to get to understand different work cultures. My role is not only to carry out my tasks, but also to explore future business opportunities for the bank, making full use of my experience and knowledge to nurture a new breed of banking leaders."

Highly skilled banking professionals must continue to learn in order to identify customers' needs and service expectations, he emphasises. "There's more to it than simply focus on theory—relevant experience is also essential. Continuous self-improvement and academic credentials are complementary to each other," he says. "I hope to see members of the younger generation equip themselves with the necessary skills and show a commitment to their work while building up expertise. In the end, this leads to true job satisfaction."

Mr Cheng notes that banking employees should set their sights beyond financial rewards and status. "I personally was attracted by Wing Lung's management culture of providing excellent opportunities for career-development, as well as team support," he concedes.

Part of his current plan is to devote more time to staff development, particularly with regards to operations management, and believes he is equipped to provide support where challenges arise. "Investing in people is key for the industry to move forward," he reiterates, saying that the bank is committed to providing effective leadership based on the trusted operations-management philosophy SPIRIT, which stands for "services", "productivity", "integrity", "resources", "innovation" and "teamwork".

"I believe this principle provide qualitative as well as quantitative operational support to the bank at an international level," Mr Cheng concludes.

Building on success

  • Graduate training key to developing banking expertise
  • Synergy between Hong Kong and mainland staff helps improve operations management
  • Mentoring scheme nurtures knowledgeable, resourceful future leaders

Taken from Career Times 25 March 2011, A3

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