Turbulent markets, shifting business models and ruthless competition for talent are driving banks and finance organisations to be creative in hiring and retaining top professionals.
Facing a shortage of experienced professionals in key areas, such as compliance, risk and relationship management, and product development, banks and finance firms are focusing on career development opportunities to retain quality staff, according to recruitment companies.
Finance recruitment specialists say banks are also introducing internal programmes to retain high performers and help boost employees' sense of job security, while promoting soft skills, such as recognition and motivation in sales and marketing.
Nancy Lee, head of human resources, Asia, RBS Coutts, says its long-established brand has enabled the bank to attract career-minded financial professionals.
"We find that people are drawn to RBS Coutts for a number of reasons - a strong, respected brand, clear growth strategy, corporate culture, opportunities for career development, and our training and development programmes," Lee says. "We also offer opportunities for development, continual skills training and have regular conversations about an individual's career path."
She says Coutts plans to hire about 200 staff over the next three to four years.
The bank seeks to hire private bankers and individuals to work as analysts, compliance and risk management professionals, and product specialists, she says. In a survey of Asian banking and financial institutions, conducted by Korn/Ferry earlier this year, 37 per cent of respondents said they planned to increase headcount by 10 to 20 per cent this year. Lee says Coutts values people with an entrepreneurial spirit who are also team players with strong banking knowledge.
She says employee engagement and retention remain top priorities.
"It is important to provide a platform for staff to share their views and feedback, keep them updated on the latest news and happenings, and create occasions to share success and address issues in a transparent way.
"Each year, the RBS Group holds an employee feedback survey, which offers employees the opportunity to tell us how they feel about the bank and what areas could be improved," Lee says.
Ravi Raju, head of Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management, Asia-Pacific, takes a similar approach. "Communication is an ongoing engagement we have with our people," he says. "Besides establishing Deutsche Bank's long-term focus and strategy, we consistently refine and work at balancing employee engagement and retaining a strong performance and teamwork culture."
Raju says that Deutsche Bank's diverse client base means it must invest in resources and experts who can advise clients on how to position themselves through custom portfolios.
Deutsche Bank's private wealth management division has more than 200 relationship bankers among almost 700 staff in the region.
"We do not plan to add `hundreds' of bankers in Asia. But going forward, we would like to invite some of the most successful private bankers in the region to join us," Raju says, adding that they plan to add more than 30 relationship managers every year, with 10 focusing on high-net-worth clients.
Recruitment and retention is equally important for Barclays Wealth, says Joanna Chu, the company's head of north Asia. She says putting key hires in place across different areas of the firm's business helps meet the complex needs of its clients in Asia. In Hong Kong, Barclays plans to increase the number of its private bankers by 50 per cent by year's end from January levels.
"In the past year, we have hired very senior private bankers who are convinced of our wealth management business model and our relative strength compared with other financial institutions. Many of the private bankers we have hired have had experience in corporate and investment banking, and we find that they are able to advise clients," Chu says.
She says Barclays also assists its private bankers in mapping their careers by offering courses across on subjects such as different products and markets, sales and relationship management, and management and leadership.
"Our approach provides insight to our private bankers of the various career steps on offer, and the requirements in terms of performance yardsticks," Chu says.