Mainland exposure gives budding bankers a head start
by Nicolette Wong
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."
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.
Graduate trainees get extensive practical exposure
Taken from Career Times 27 April 2012, A3