Retail Banking

Facilitating continuous enhancement

by Jeanne Creighton

Blanche Chan, senior vice president and head of human resources
DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited
Photo: Edde Ngan

Asia's leading bank builds affluent personnel

Unwilling to rest on its laurels, the banking industry is continuously looking to consolidating skills and knowledge.

With around 4,000 staff and 59 branches and centres throughout Hong Kong, DBS Bank is ready to extend its commitment and keep its deliverable promises in people development. "People are always a company's most important asset. This is particularly so in the highly competitive banking field," says Blanche Chan, senior vice president and head of human resources, DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited.

As such, a range of training and development programmes are in place for staff of all levels. New joiners attend an intensive orientation programme from which they acquire hard skills such as systems and practice; as well as soft skills including customer service and communications. This is also when they get familiar with the bank's unique and consistent way of service delivery.

Ms Chan explains, "We want our people to be passionate about and committed to serving clients to their utmost ability; respect and treasure relationships with both customers and colleagues; possess a high level of integrity which is an essential part of our business; dedicate time and effort while working as a team; and then excel in their jobs."

Structured training

Nurturing home-grown talent has always been DBS's priority. One training programme that sets the banking giant apart from its counterparts is the one-of-its-kind management associate programme (MAP), which offers fresh graduates an opportunity to learn the ropes about the banking and finance industry. Ms Chan points out that these MAP trainees come from diverse educational backgrounds. "They don't have to have a bachelor's degree in finance. What we are looking for is a can-do spirit plus the potential to grow," she emphasises.

Every year DBS takes on approximately 20 aspirants to join the MAP. The application process is rigorous, yet the number of applications to the programme has been increasing year on year. The last enrolment saw around 3,000 applications. The initial training is at DBS's regional headquarters in Singapore, with applicants coming from Hong Kong as well as around the region.

In addition, DBS bank has recently revamped its people management training programme for managerial staff. Managers learn subjects such as performance management, which includes everything from how to give constructive performance reviews to working with individuals to achieve career goals. Part of this process involves learning how to come up with an IDP (individual development plan). Both individual staff members as well as line managers share equal value in the process. "Staff must take ownership of their development," says Ms Chan. "We treasure every person's development because we want all our staff to grow and succeed. This is why we pride ourselves on our learning and development culture."

Opportunities abound

Effective leadership is key to sustainable organisational success. In light of this, DBS provides extensive professional exposure and networking opportunities to high-performing staff who, under the bank's job rotation opportunities, can expect to expand their professional exposure across the bank's regional branches. "While the programme is open to staff at all levels, those who have demonstrated the desired potential, determination and commitment are given priority to polish their commercial acumen by observing best practice and work styles from others," Ms Chan notes.

To retain and sharpen its edge in product and service excellence, the bank's in-house learning and training development team, which is part of the human resources department, has conducted surveys on customer satisfaction to identify and in turn close any gaps in staff training.

Meanwhile, employee feedback is encouraged via various internal staff initiatives. These include post-training questionnaires. "This is the most important and direct form of feedback," Ms Chan says. Training relationship managers also check with line managers to find out if staff are able to apply what they have learned to their daily duties.

"We make it our responsibility to ensure healthy growth for every member of staff. In fact, we have started to build a database of employee career wishes. This will help us better formulate appropriate training programmes, providing each inidvidual with the right tools for long-term career success," Ms Chan concludes.


Taken from Career Times 07 March 2008
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