Money Moves

Two-way street lined with opportunity

by Wing Kei

Henry Sin, assistant general manager and head of corporate banking Agricultural Bank of China
Photo: Wallace Chan

Cross-border banking transactions have now become quite routine with the ongoing growth of business between Hong Kong and mainland China. But Henry Sin, assistant general manager and head of corporate banking, Agricultural Bank of China (Hong Kong Branch), points out that the environment surrounding cross-border transactions is complex and constantly evolving. There are always more complex and quite often higher risks — and high returns — associated with cross-border banking. "What makes us successful is to be able to identify the risks and manage them to generate the return that we anticipated," he says.

The outlook is bright and challenging for the Hong Kong and mainland China corporate banking market, he believes. "Everything is driven by the continuous growth of mainland China's economy, which provides substantial domestic prospects for most corporations and the opportunity to go global through Hong Kong," he adds.

Outlining the bank's role here, Mr Sin explains, "Hong Kong is one of the world's most vibrant financial centres and since our speciality is corporate banking, we act as a two-way window and platform for corporate clients in Hong Kong going into China and for mainland corporate clients coming to Hong Kong. The Hong Kong branch's target is to stay focused on corporate banking and expand its capabilities and scale of operations to meet the needs of our sophisticated clients."

He points out that since the second half of 2003, Hong Kong's corporate banking sector has seen a major rebound, and there is still no sign of the trend slowing down. "In view of the growth of the banking sector, our Hong Kong branch is actively recruiting professionals in all aspects of corporate banking. This will not only support our organic growth in Hong Kong, but arm us for the international expansion of the bank as a whole."

Pointing to the competitive job market in Hong Kong, he believes banking professionals should always be on the look-out for opportunities in self-investment — specially those willing to stand up for themselves since such go-getters are always looking to enhance their careers.

He cites the fact that the employment market in Hong Kong's banking sector has never been so favourable for achievers, but adds that standards and skill requirements are rising even faster. "The challenge is to take advantage of such favourable conditions while equipping oneself with better skills for the future," he says. "Discipline, hard work and career aspirations are the keys to advancement."

Mr Sin expects that the banking sector will be dominated for the foreseeable future by structured trade and investment transactions, debt and equity corporate finance, direct investment and fund management, treasury and risk hedging, plus private banking.

The biggest challenges facing today's banking sector include capturing high yield banking opportunities, managing risks, retaining talent, and shouldering increasing operational costs, he believes.

The Agricultural Bank is currently striving to improve its client-oriented structure, deepen relationships with strategic clients, expand product scope and expertise, and strengthen its risk management framework and abilities. The bank also fosters its growth and development by using internal nurturing and external recruiting to create a pool of more committed and capable professionals for its operations.

Mr Sin points out that the bank has three niche areas involved in its operations — an extensive and electronically-integrated domestic network, its focus on corporate banking in Hong Kong, and a team of dedicated colleagues.

Taken from Career Times 11 May 2007, p. A2
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