Corporate Banking

Young talent break new banking ground

by Grace Chan

Ying Weiyun
assistant general manager
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia) Limited
Photo: Lewis Wong

Innovation, talent and scope give home-grown finance house cross-border edge

Companies with vision realise that people development is an integral part of sustainable business growth.

One flagship finance institution that has made training a business priority is the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia) Limited. With an expanding network of about 50 branches and a number of Elite Club wealth management centres and several commercial business centres in Hong Kong, the bank focuses on retail, commercial and corporate banking.

Rather than concentrate largely on hiring experienced staff, ICBC (Asia) commits considerable resources to recruiting graduates to help expand its retail operations. "We plan to hire 160 new employees this year, with half of them joining us straight from university," says Ying Weiyun, assistant general manager, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia) Limited ("ICBC (Asia)").

Aspiring students will be invited to a series of career talks kicking off this month at local academic institutions, including The University of Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and City University of Hong Kong, to create awareness of potential prospects at ICBC (Asia).

"These young people may have limited work experience, but they tend to be creative thinkers who also look to achieve something in their future careers. With support from well-structured training and a clear career vision, they are in line for leadership roles," Mr Ying notes.

People power

Training at ICBC (Asia) usually starts with a month of induction, followed by two-month job placements to familiarise the new recruits with banking operations. After this, they join the bank's regular workforce for three months' on-the-job training to learn the ropes and build customer relationships.

"Trainees are entitled to bonuses for meeting their monthly sales quotas and many of them already receive performance bonuses during their on-the-job training," Mr Ying points out, adding that past graduates have proven that they can make a substantial contribution to the bank's business through innovative ideas.

With clear opportunities for promotion, employees tend to stick with the organisation, Mr Ying reveals. "Job vacancies are filled via both internal and external recruitment. We require our department heads to submit lists of their top staff on a regular basis to ensure that high achievers are considered for promotion when the opportunities arise."

Quarterly assessment ensures competency, and various award and career-development schemes are in place to engage high-calibre staff.

"We have clear sets of criteria to gauge staff performance, which is directly linked to the bonus scheme. This strategy has led to greater motivation, which is key to talent succession," he notes, adding that the bank's progressive growth supports vertical and horizontal staff movements. "Our staff grow with ICBC (Asia)," Mr Ying says.

Growth plans

ICBC (Asia) plans to expand its distribution network in Hong Kong by increasing its number of branches, while at the same time enhancing links between its physical distribution network and electronic banking services. The aim is for the number of branches to grow to 60 over the next three years, and the number of ATMs to 250.

Most banks are keen to explore cross-border opportunities. Among these, ICBC (Asia) is in a strong position to leverage the extensive network and advanced technology platform of its mainland parent company, ICBC, to deliver a wide range of services catering to varying client needs, with an ultimate aim of becoming the premier bank for cross-border services. These include account activities, remittances, foreign currency exchange, loans, wealth management and private banking services.

Integrated services

A forward-looking banking organisation, ICBC (Asia) has enhanced its tier-pricing structure and standardised privileges to different customer segments. Currently, ICBC (Asia) account holders may, for example, withdraw Renminbi from ATM machines on the mainland without incurring any service fees.

Coming up with groundbreaking new ideas is vital to cross-border banking success, Mr Ying emphasises. One successful new endeavour is the launch of an ICBC dual-currency credit card, comprising both Renminbi and Hong Kong dollar accounts.

"Cardholders are freed from paying extra fees by being able to settle payments directly via their ICBC accounts on the mainland or in Hong Kong," he says.

"We want to deliver true benefits to our customers. If account holders use the dual-currency credit card to make a down-payment on a mainland property, for example, the total amount of the payment is converted to credit-card spending.

"We're looking into enhancing service integration between our branches and our e-banking channels in order to meet the expectations of our customers," he concludes. "One such move is to extend our banking services on the up-and-coming mobile internet platform."

Winning strategies

  • Bank grooms young graduates with innovative ideas
  • Staff rewarded via fair performance system
  • Electronic channels allow myriad expansion possibilities
  • Diversification and leading-edge services crucial to maximise cross-border opportunities

Taken from Career Times 15 April 2011, A4

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