Retail Banking

Stepping up measures

by Charles Mak

Ann Kung, General Manager
Channel Management
Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited
Photo: Courtesy of BOCHK

Banking leader cultivates talent for sustainable industry futures

The implementation of the Qualifications Framework initiated by the Hong Kong Government will help set new standards in training quality. Impacts can be more visible in the realm of banking and finance where change and challenge are constant.

"The initiative essentially helps companies to formulate and implement a more appropriate and effective staff training standard," says Ann Kung, general manager, channel management, Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited (BOCHK).

Make a mark

BOCHK is the first financial institution in Hong Kong to benchmark its Credit Processing Centre's job competence, and has subsequently developed relevant training sessions with reference to the Specification of Competency Standards (SCS) set out in the Qualifications Framework (QF).

In particular, the set of SCS in retail banking offers guidance in aligning individuals' aspirations and competence with a wide spectrum of career options. These include, among others, service delivery, operations and support, compliance and risk management, product development and brand marketing, quality management, as well as sales and relationship management.

"A thorough consultation helped to identify a set of competencies required of different positions across various career levels. The results would help provide young bankers with a clearer picture when they make their career plans," notes Mrs Kung.

The bank's foray into matching the units of competencies specified in the QF against its corporate structure and job positions proved helpful. "First and foremost, we can stipulate specific knowledge and skills into our training development and job specifications with industry reference," explains Mrs Kung.

With clear reference to the objective performance expectation and assessment guidelines specified in the QF, the bank is also able to lay a concrete foundation for skills assessment. This has resulted in an internal mechanism for accreditation.

Earlier in January, BOCHK presented the Industry Training Advisory Committee with an achievement portfolio. Mrs Kung confirms that the bank will forge ahead with development of new training programmes and explore the feasibility of incorporating the QF in aid of future recruitment.

Talent pipeline

People of high calibre always gravitate towards establishments that demonstrate a commitment to talent development. Over the years, BOCHK has offered a number of internship opportunities for undergraduates looking to tap into the banking and finance sector.

BOCHK provides young professionals wanting to gain mainland China exposure the best opportunity. "Training has always been a major focus of our operations in Hong Kong, mainland China and abroad," Mrs Kung remarks.

Aside from its long-running summer internship programmes in Hong Kong and the mainland, the bank launched a bank teller training programme that gave as many as 120 first-year university students a first taste of work at branch level last summer. Qualified students were offered part-time positions after the summer break and continued to enjoy on-the-job training that prepared them for joining the industry after graduation. "Practical work experience gives students the upper hand when they enter the employment market," Mrs Kung stresses.

In line with strategic development plans, BOCHK rolled out a major recruitment exercise last month during which more than 700 candidates turned up in competition for 150 frontline positions. The good turnout was indicative of the bank's strong brand franchise as well as jobseekers' sentiments towards banking careers.

The key to talent retention goes beyond training, Mrs Kung says. "People are our greatest assets and the bank seeks to provide them with development opportunities based on their strengths," she explains. "We are dedicated to helping our young talent to make the right choice in their pursuit of career advancement via our coaching and mentoring schemes."

The BOCHK training centre works closely with bank divisions to tailor training modules that are delivered via the internet which offers a high level of flexibility to BOCHK staff who are also encouraged to attend conferences and seminars organised by reputable local or overseas institutions.

Keeping in mind the significance of talent succession, the bank has formed partnerships with prominent overseas institutions including the Ivy League universities to tailor high quality management programmes for aspiring staff. Those opting for work-related programmes run by external institutions may take advantage of the bank's education subsidy schemes.

As China's banking industry continues to gain new ground, knowledge in the vast and expanding mainland market is in many aspects indispensable. In view of this, the BOC training centre in Beijing invites prominent mainland financiers to address Hong Kong-based staff in a wide array of training sessions. This also helps to facilitate a high level of knowledge transfer between staff on both sides of the border.

"The objective of our endeavour is to identify and groom a team of professional talent who will contribute to a sustainable future of the bank as well as that of Hong Kong society as a whole," Mrs Kung emphasises.

Corporate competence

  • Government's Qualifications Framework provides uncomplicated guidelines on talent management
  • Commitment to people development attracts quality jobseekers
  • Comprehensive professional training contributes to the greater good of the industry

Taken from Career Times 12 March 2010, A6

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