Corporate Banking

Global banking leader seeks top-notch professionals

by Isabella Lee

Betty Ku, general manager
SME banking Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited
Photo: Edde Ngan

SME banking a high growth business

Set against the backdrop of financial bloom, competition for talent in the banking and finance industry is keener than ever.

"People talent is a strategic priority towards meeting our aspirations for strong and sustainable business growth," says Betty Ku, general manager, SME banking, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited. "As such, we have put in place an ideal career platform to attract, develop and retain the best talent in the Hong Kong employment market."

SME banking is one of the key growth engines of Standard Chartered's global consumer banking business and Hong Kong is among the bank's biggest SME markets globally. SME banking has been gaining continuous momentum over the past few years. During the period from 2004 to 2007, the business has achieved an annual average income growth in excess of 40 per cent. The bank's stellar business expansion has created a constant demand for talent. Positions are available in areas including customer relationship management, product management, strategic planning, channel management and risk management.

Room for growth

"While we see strong income growth from interest income products in the SME segment, non-funded income revenue streams are still significantly underpenetrated," Ms Ku notes. "There are many opportunities to offer innovative services and products that help protect and grow the wealth of SMEs and simultaneously develop their businesses." For instance, bancassurance and investment services are developed to help customers to protect their business and increase return.

Ms Ku also highlights foreign exchange hedging products that are currently offered to SME customers. These products include access to expert advice and regular market updates. Designed to help manage customers' foreign exchange risks, decision makers are then able to better manage financial risk through these products while focusing on company growth.

In addition to products and services, customer reach has been continuously extended through increased distribution channels such as new SME banking centres, which offer customers a local level of expediency and one-stop SME banking services.

The distribution power has also been extended to the Greater China region. Customers with subsidiaries, affiliates or associates in the region can obtain one-stop banking solutions through the bank's Greater China services platform. SME customers can manage their business seamlessly across the Standard Chartered network, whether they are in Hong Kong, mainland China or Taiwan.

"To help SMEs in Hong Kong, we provide more than just banking products and services," Ms Ku remarks. "More importantly, we share with our customers our wealth of expertise and knowledge in key markets such as Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and explore new opportunities around the world with them."

Cultural mix

Today, Standard Chartered operates in many of the world's fastest growing markets, and derives more than 90 per cent of its operating income from its key markets. The Bank has a network exceeding 1,700 branches and outlets in more than 70 countries across the world. Among these countries, 25 have established a dedicated SME banking team.

With a belief in diversity and as a respected and valued company that promotes creativity and innovation, Standard Chartered currently employs 73,000 people representing 115 nationalities. This enormous team of professionals supports the development of new products and services for customers worldwide.

"Leveraging our international network combined with localised success factors, product innovation and development can be fast tracked for the benefit of our customers," Ms Ku points out. "For instance, our highly popular business instalment loan scheme was first developed in Malaysia. Via our international network, we were quick to replicate, fine-tune and subsequently introduce it to many Standard Chartered's key markets including Hong Kong."

Ms Ku further points out that Standard Chartered strives to be the "right partner" to customers, as opposed to fostering purely commercial relationships with them. This long-term partnership is created and sustained in different forms of engagement and cooperation. Recently, the bank sponsored a series of 40 workshops and seminars co-organised with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, aiming at helping SMEs to explore new market opportunities in an increasingly competitive global business arena.

"People seeking a high level of job satisfaction and a fulfilling banking career will find Standard Chartered a great place to work," Ms Ku observes. "In addition, abundant career opportunities are created within the dynamic business environment of SME banking," she adds.

"Go places" is the term Standard Chartered uses to describe employee potential. Staff are encouraged to work with people from diverse cultures, and maximise both vertical and horizontal career development potentials.

"With passion, dedication and commitment, people who can fit into the Standard Chartered culture are most welcome to join the SME banking team," Ms Ku advises. "In return for their commitment, we offer all the necessary support to achieve common goals in unison."


Taken from Career Times 18 July 2008, p. A7
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