MT Opportunities

Mainland exposure gives budding bankers a head start

by Nicolette Wong

Wing Lung Bank - Graduate trainee programme
Beryl Chan, executive vice president
head of human resources department
Wing Lung Bank Ltd.
Photo: Dickie Tam
Two-year graduate trainee programme to prepare young aspirants for a bright career in the banking industry

As the increasing number of sophisticated investors in mainland China and across the globe push up demand for banking services, financial institutions and top lenders in Hong Kong are pulling out all the stops in a bid to gain a bigger market share. As a member of China Merchants Bank Group, Wing Lung Bank thrives on its unique position as a cross-border financial platform, fostering new value in investment and wealth management services through collaborative efforts across the region.

In view of the foreseeable developments in the banking sector and the need for fresh talent, the bank continues to strengthen its talent pipeline through an established graduate trainee programme.

Re-launched last year with a new curriculum, Wing Lung Bank's graduate trainee programme aligns its talent development objectives with long-term business strategies.

"Our graduate trainee programme offers talented individuals a balanced mix of theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience," says Beryl Chan, executive vice president, head of human resources department, Wing Lung Bank Ltd. "With a view to prepare our young trainees for the growing prominence of Mainland China, the programme includes three months of training in mainland China."

All-round development

Strategically restructured to help young bankers build a fruitful career in the fast-paced industry, the bank's graduate trainee programme promises high-calibre trainees rich learning experiences and practical exposure to commercial banking, corporate banking, operations management, or treasury, in four clearly defined stages spread across a two-year span, Ms Chan explains.

An induction programme gives the selected trainees an overview of the bank's service and product portfolios, ethical standards and compliance requirements. This is followed by a series of classroom training for both hard and soft skills ranging from product knowledge to service ethos and business etiquette.

The second stage of the training kicks off with a focus on providing the trainees sufficient job exposure via a series of job rotations and tailored job attachments, from which trainees gain practical experience in the daily operation of specific functional areas, while being exposed to a wide spectrum of banking products and services. During this time, the trainees also have a chance to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills to a number of ad-hoc projects, which help them to build confidence and project management competence.

The training then continues with a three-month job attachment at one of China Merchants Bank's branches or a Wing Lung branch on the mainland. "This part of training serves as a unique opportunity for our trainees to explore the best practice, culture and regulatory environment across the border," Ms Chan notes. "The experiences that they gain from this will stand them in good stead since Hong Kong's standing as a cross-border financial platform is becoming clearer."

Graduate trainees who completed the training successfully are assigned to the functional areas for which they have been selected, while continuous on-the-job training can be expected and further assessment satisfied.

Right from the start

To recruit people with the necessary aptitude and competence, the bank puts its candidates through a lengthy, stringent assessment process. In short, high potential candidates are invited to an aptitude test, written test and panel interviews. Through these, their analytical skills, interpersonal and presentation techniques, leadership potential and emotional quotient, as well as understanding of the banking industry are put to the test.

For people looking to sign up for the programme, Ms Chan cautions, a passion for a banking career and professionalism are indispensible. A dynamic disposition and a willingness to take on challenge and strive for excellence are also important.

Since graduate trainees are expected to step into a junior management role after completing the programme, they should develop the capacity for being discipline and making sound judgement, while demonstrating a commitment to the bank's sustainable growth.

"The programme equips our trainees with a comprehensive view of the bank's operation, and prepares them for upcoming challenges and business opportunities in their future roles," Ms Chan remarks. In view of this, the bank conducts progress evaluation throughout the different stages of training. Coaching partners, for instance, monitor closely and assess the trainees' development, providing guidance and feedback for improvement in a positive, encouraging manner. The trainees, in turn, are required to give a presentation on their job experiences, observations and suggestions, as well as about designated topics on a regular basis in order to showcase their understanding of various aspects of their work.

In its role as programme coordinator, the bank's human resources department keeps a watchful eye on the trainees' progress with ready guidance and support, Ms Chan reveals.

She points out that the highlight of the programme is a three-month job attachment at one of China Merchants Bank's branches or one of Wing Lung Bank's on the mainland. This, she emphasises, represents a considerable investment in talent development on the part of the bank. "We make every effort to recognise and promote our new talent who complete the programme and join the managerial path," adds Ms Chan.

Getting ahead

Graduate trainees get extensive practical exposure

Wing Lung Bank - Graduate trainees
Chris Tsang (left), trainee, wealth management department
Charmaine Chau (middle), trainee, operations unit
Stanley Chum, trainee, corporate banking department
Photo: Dickie Tam

Chris Tsang
Trainee, Wealth Management Department
"Aside from classroom training, the bank invites external trainers to explain specific financial models among other specialist skills and knowledge, giving us an invaluable opportunity to build a solid career foundation in the banking industry. There is a wide-ranging scope of job functions to be explored with Wing Lung Bank and tremendous cross-border opportunities to look forward to. For this reason, people who are interested in joining the programme must be well prepared and be ready for a challenge future."

Charmaine Chau
Trainee, Operations Unit
"With a comprehensive scope and extensive on-the-job exposure, the programme is suitable for aspiring individuals with diverse interests in the banking industry. Guidance from my mentors and interaction with members of the senior management team helped me to sharpen my business acumen and realise my career aspirations. In particular, through working with colleagues from various departments and participation in a number of projects, I have gained insights into operation efficiency and customer management."

Stanley Chum
Trainee, Corporate Banking Department
"From frontline skills to back office supporting functions, the programme gives me a good grasp of all the fundamentals of the banking business in addition to a broad range of core financial knowledge and expertise. Through job rotation at various departments, I learnt to communicate and coordinate with my colleagues to tailor the right financial products and services to our target customers. Supervisors and managers also give me a wealth of suggestions and support which help me a great deal in discharging my daily tasks."

Taken from Career Times 27 April 2012, A3

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