Retail Banking

Talent treasure hunt

by Anna Tong

Sunny Cheung, managing director and head of consumer banking Greater China, DBS Bank (Hong Kong)
Photo: Wallace Chan

Unremitting demand for top retail banking professionals

The retail banking industry in Hong Kong is considered to be one of the most competitive in the field, locally as well as internationally. This is directly attributable to a revived and booming economy that has bred more affluent individuals who, in the long-term, must seek out a partner to help them plan and grow their wealth.

Such a partner is DBS Bank. As an acknowledged leader in retail banking and finance, DBS offers a wealth of priority banking services that it entrusts to a strong team of professionals — treasures relationship managers (TRMs) who can meet the needs of ambitious and progressive individual customers.

To cope with the expanding market, DBS aims to strategically expand its client base. "As a bank with profound understanding of the Asia market, we have witnessed the rising power of the affluent in the region. Therefore, we can't just focus on a single cluster of customers alone; we must seek out not only affluent clients, but also those with potential wealth," says Sunny Cheung, managing director and head of consumer banking, Greater China, DBS Bank (Hong Kong).

Constantly in the market for new clients, the bank's strategy is to scout out emerging potential customers, perhaps those in their 20s with a good job that will enable them to become affluent business people in the years to come.

Quality assurance

Today, DBS operates 26 priority banking centres in Hong Kong. "Our customers go to a special counter where they will contact specifically trained TRMs to deal with their individual requests,'' says Mr Cheung.

Besides this, the number of TRMs will be increased to ensure constant quality of service. Mr Cheung stresses that hiring the right candidates is particularly challenging, especially now that competition for such talents is becoming increasingly intense. Potential employees considered for the position of TRM must have a minimum of two licences - relevant individual (RI) and technical representative (TR), plus at least five years' experience in the financial industry.

Candidates who become TRM trainees will embark on a six-month TRM development programme which consists of classroom training and branch attachment, to familiarise themselves with important skills and knowledge such as compliance, risk exposure and portfolio assessment.

"Candidates with no licence but possess two years' experience in a financial institution can become a financial planner executive," says Mr Cheung. "And depending on their performance, they may become a TRM within two years."

TRMs at DBS are subject to professional upgrade opportunities if they successfully complete the certified financial planner (CFP) or certified financial marketing professional (CFMP) training. Not only will this increase their competence levels and professionalism, it is also a gateway to promotion and salary upgrades.

Career-wise, They have the option of going forward and being promoted to different levels, such as private banking relationship manager or branch manager.

Demanding duties

TRMs, who must manage all aspects of a client account, from savings to investments, are also tasked with compiling easy-to-read reports derived from complicated analysis of information that includes risk-profiling. "Analytical information is filtered to make it easier to understand before being passed on to the client," Mr Cheung notes.

With the help of a sophisticated IT platform "smart-workstation", TRMs can oversee and carry out the required analyses all on one system. Also included in the system are tools to boost a TRM's confidence when communicating with clients. "Videos are available on the workstation so that TRMs can practise how to deal with clients in various situations via role-play," says Mr Cheung.

With so many institutions offering similar banking services, DBS goes that extra mile to offer clients an extensive range of products. "We provide a wide variety of structured deposit products," says Mr Cheung. "So a high competence level is demanded of all TRMs so that our priority banking customers can be reassured of quality service.

"Our TRMs are furnished with relevant information backed by a team of specialists to enable them to do their job efficiently,'' he says. "This also makes the job more satisfying and enjoyable."

Every client, naturally, will have different needs and demands, so DBS shuns the more common "one-size-fits-all" approach to wealth management.

TRMs sit down one-to-one with clients and, aided by a "smart-workstation" and backed by a team of specialists, they can help clients achieve their financial goals. Mr Cheung frequently emphasises to TRMs at DBS that they must abide by compliance rules and regulations to maintain the bank's integrity. This entails strictly following compliance guidelines set down by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

Professional vocation

  • Treasures relationship managers (TRM) must hold basic licences — relevant individual and technical representative, and at least five years of relevant experience
  • Six-month TRM development programme helps TRM trainees build solid foundations
  • Candidates with no licence but two years' relevant experience can become financial planner executives, and within two years TRMs depending on work performance and merits

Taken from Career Times 09 March 2007
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