Financial Planning / Wealth Management

Planning for the future

by Alex Lai

Mabel Wong, assistant general manager and head of human resources
Wing Hang Bank Ltd
Photo: Wallace Chan

Offerings in local bank go beyond the pay packet

There exists a continuous need for financial planners in the banking industry, as a result of the diversification in financial products. To attract top talent, employment packages being offered currently way exceed the monetary value.

Mabel Wong, assistant general manager and head of human resources for Wing Hang Bank Ltd says that the bank emphasises all areas of its package, not only remuneration. "We offer comprehensive training in financial planning, on-the-job coaching and most important of all, a balanced culture. These help us differentiate ourselves in attracting talented people."

Handsome package

According to Ms Wong, most banks are offering similar remuneration to financial professionals at the trainee level and the smartest jobseekers are looking for what else comes with the job. She says, "Banking institutions offer similar salary packages. We have other attractions such as opportunities for job exposure in different business areas and in mainland China. We have a goal-sharing spirit blended with unique Chinese culture — something candidates might not find in other foreign banks."

Another popular part of Wing Hang's package is its education subsidies. "On top of programmes offered by the in-house training department, education subsidies are available and we strongly encourage staff to take advantage of them. Improving competencies and qualifications is a positive move for both staff and the bank. We want our staff to take ownership of their career development," Ms Wong remarks. Another benefit of working at Wing Hang is the option to work in other parts of the region. "We often arrange trainees to visit our subsidiaries in mainland China and Macau," Ms Wong says. "Recently, one such trainees who has visited our mainland operation requested his next assignment over there."

Many of the bank's financial planners obtain additional training in insurance, stocks and securities, taxes, or even banking. There are ample opportunities for such forward-looking individuals to be promoted to a higher level or different work spectrum. Ms Wong says, "With a well established company infrastructure and extensive product lines, there is every opportunity to develop a career vertically and horizontally."

Industry demand

Celebrating its 70th anniversary, Wing Hang has been actively expanding its business in China, Hong Kong and Macau. "Recruitment of experienced financial professionals has been particularly buoyant in the last few years, and there will only be more activities this year to cope with the increasing demand for wealth management products and the loan business," Ms Wong says.

While also using traditional recruitment channels and methodologies such as print and online recruitment advertisements, the bank has had a lot of success in recent years with its staff referral programme. Staff who make successful referrals gain satisfaction from helping to build team spirit and are also rewarded with a bonus. "It's a token of appreciation but, more importantly, it helps the bank establish a stronger bond with employees." Ms Wong explains.

Despite the referral programme's success, the existing pool of experienced professionals does not satisfy market demand, and the bank is looking to hiring fresh graduates. These newcomers can participate in Wing Hang's management trainee programme, which fast-tracks talented individuals to the managerial level.

To succeed in the highly competitive and fast-changing business environment, banking professionals must be familiar with legislation and laws concerning retirement plans, tax shelters, insurance and trusts. "This is how our comprehensive training can attract those who are interested in taking the challenge in the industry," Ms Wong says. "To continuously enhance employees' business acumens, we also invite guest speakers from both in-house and other reputable organisations to share the latest happenings in the industry."

Although most employers do not require fresh graduates to have specialised academic training in financial planning, Ms Wong believes it helps to take courses in areas such as marketing, accounting, business, law, economics, and financial and estate planning. Besides that, a good financial planner should also possess good analytical skills, strong business acumen and the ability to engage other people.


Taken from Career Times 27 July 2007
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