Money Moves

Increased investment brightens banking outlook

by Wing Kei

Clarence Cheung, deputy general manager and head of corporate services, KBC Bank N.V. (Hong Kong)
Photo: Ringo Lee

Hong Kong's commercial banking sector is heading for a bumper year as businesses expand and a renewed entrepreneurial spirit leads them to seek investment for a range of new ventures. This is good news for KBC Bank N.V. (Hong Kong) whose target customers are medium-sized and large enterprises intent on growth.

Clarence Cheung, the bank's deputy general manager and head of corporate services, says the sector is competitive, especially with more institutions trying to break into the mid-cap market.

"In the next three to five years, I expect Hong Kong will continue to serve as a platform for international networking and as a bridge to the rest of the world for mainland Chinese companies," Mr Cheung says.

He notes that the basis for this is Hong Kong's well-established taxation and legal systems and its high international standing in terms of banking expertise. "European companies ask us for information about entering the China market, and mainland companies are looking for support for their plans to expand overseas," Mr Cheung adds.

The bank has been operating in Hong Kong for over 20 years and realises the importance of commitment, consistency and establishing long-term client relationships. These qualities underpin the current sales and marketing strategies.

In total, there are about 120 KBC group staff in Hong Kong with nearly 60 under the banking entity. Mr Cheung's team focuses on commercial banking and treasury product cross selling. "We concentrate on providing appropriate solutions and our account management team takes a proactive approach to looking at different customer needs," he says.

These needs are changing and becoming more extensive, but that does not necessarily make it any easier to find new clients. KBC's priority is to achieve continuity and a high level of service.

"An account manager's job is certainly challenging," notes Mr Cheung. "The person has to be positive, persistent, confident and a good listener." He adds that good analytical skills are also essential in order to convert a client's stated requirements into a suitable financial proposal.

It is part of the bank's management philosophy to offer competitive remuneration packages, as well as due recognition of good performance. "We offer staff both tangible and intangible benefits, since we believe job satisfaction comes from having monetary rewards and other forms of recognition," Mr Cheung adds.

Taken from Career Times 19 May 2006, p. A2
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