Money Moves

Exciting options for a change in career

by Jacky Wong

Dynamic funds transfer business offers progressive career development opportunities

An expert funds transfer team at Wachovia Bank, National Association Hong Kong Branch
Photo: Johnny Kwok

Many jobseekers today dream of moving into the exciting and lucrative banking and finance industry but are unable to do so without going back to university to get an MBA. However, entry positions do exist for aspirants and these can be the first steps in a long and rewarding career. Wachovia Bank is currently searching for budding professionals to support its expanding Hong Kong funds transfer team.

Wachovia Corporation is the fourth largest financial institution in the US (based on assets) and the third largest US full-service brokerage firm (based on client assets). It has been present in Asia for more than 25 years and now operates a network of 19 regional offices and six bank branches. Its Hong Kong office is the bank's regional headquarters in the Asia Pacific region and is currently staffed by more than 600 people. Wachovia's international operations business encompasses trade finance, insourcing and correspondent banking, which includes funds transfer and customer service.

Surging demand

Denver Ngan, assistant vice president and shared services manager at Wachovia Bank, National Association Hong Kong Branch, says the work is challenging and rewarding. "Employees on Wachovia's funds transfer team generally take on a supporting role, handling enquiries related to international funds transfers and ensuring electronic transfers made by global clients are processed on time," he notes.

Working in a funds transfer system is an excellent learning experience, especially for self-starters looking for a long-term career in the banking industry. "By serving overseas clients, employees can familiarise themselves with various banking systems in different parts of the world," Mr Ngan remarks. Clients served by Mr Ngan's funds transfer team are mainly global financial institutions and the team handles more than 300,000 transactions a month.

Mr Ngan is optimistic about the future growth of the funds transfer business. He says, "Though the conversion of business transactions from manual to electronic means resulted in fewer jobs in some areas, other areas saw the opposite trend." Indeed, there is now a huge demand for back office specialists who provide complementary and consultancy services to clients, making sure banking processes are completed in a timely and secure manner. "Obsolete computer systems in some financial institutions and accidental human error mean specialists are more necessary than ever before to monitor everything that happens," he stresses.

Global experience

In line with his team's expansion, Mr Ngan aims to recruit five per cent of the total number of current staff this year alone. Work experience in banking is not required of new recruits, but being able to demonstrate an eagerness to learn, a positive work attitude, self-confidence in dealing with clients and the ability to handle ad hoc issues are mandatory.

Staff in the funds transfer team are required to work on night shifts to serve clients in the global markets. They receive a generous shift allowance in addition to a competitive basic monthly salary, incentive eligibility and employee benefits such as medical and dental cover, and learning subsidies. They are also offered a progressive career path that is in line with their work performance and potential.

New recruits without previous experience begin as funds transfer specialists. Mr Ngan adds that there is no fixed time frame for promotion to the next level, however it depends on the level of technical knowledge, work productivity, communication skills, leadership ability and career aspirations.

Every new recruit at Wachovia is required to undertake a comprehensive training programme which aims to help them become familiar with the various payments systems. During this time, recruits are also assigned an individual mentor to help them adapt to the new environment and manage job challenges.

Stephen Kwok, who previously worked as a teaching assistant in a primary school, says he joined Wachovia's funds transfer team as a stepping-stone to a long-term career in the financial services industry. Now a funds transfer specialist, Mr Kwok enjoys the dynamic and diversified nature of the work. Having been at Wachovia for a few months, he is impressed with its comprehensive training system and the exciting business nature. Perhaps representative of those given a chance to change careers and realise their dream, Mr Kwok says he is dedicated to learning new technical skills and producing results and hopes one day to be promoted to a senior position in the bank.

Staying up

  • Excellent package with outstanding benefits
  • Comprehensive training in financial systems
  • Exposure to clients across the region and beyond
  • Clear, progressive and results-driven career development

  • Taken from Career Times 18 April 2008, p. A6
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