In line with the expansion of the retail banking sector, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia) plans to recruit some 140 professionals and fresh graduates this year. Ying Wei-yun, assistant general manager of ICBC's flagship banking business in Hong Kong, shares their strategies for training young talent.
ICBC (Asia) has been boosting its retail banking in Hong Kong. What are your plans and targets?
Hong Kong is an international financial centre with an ever-growing market demand for wealth management services.
We see great development potential in Hong Kong's retail banking sector, also because of a fast-growing mainland market and relevant yuan businesses.
Cross-border banking and yuan business services have also been flourishing in recent years.
ICBC (Asia) attaches great importance to human resources. So we plan to allocate even more resources to develop retail banking and branch networks to ensure service quality. Meanwhile, sales executives and tellers are in great demand. Many other banks have also been keen on hiring sales staff. Recruiting more frontline staff of high quality is also one of our major tasks this year.
At ICBC (Asia), we are building a team of retail-banking customer service managers with professional expertise to cope with rising demand for the bank's retail banking services.
To strengthen the team, we will send new recruits to frontline sales positions while adjusting personnel structures at our branches from time to time.
We strive to strengthen staff training to enhance our staff's professional knowledge and working abilities.
What career development and training opportunities do you offer?
ICBC (Asia) has developed a comprehensive intern training system to help new employees adapt to the working environment.
Under the system, new employees will undergo a series of training in the first month to learn - among many other aspects - ICBC (Asia) businesses and products, workflows, compliance requirements and sales techniques. Then, they will be posted to different branches in the following two months for on-the-job training under the guidance of senior staff.
They are expected to learn various business knowledge and sales techniques from their supervisors. This will help them fit into their new postings more easily.
In addition, ICBC (Asia) holds monthly training sessions for our sales personnel, with a view to updating their knowledge of new products and services.
Various training programmes and activities will be held from time to time to enhance their theoretical knowledge, business skills and professional know-how.
How does your Management Trainee Programme work?
We are a people-oriented financial institution, and we take graduates seriously. Young people are the hope of our society. They are energetic, creative and talented. We have tailor-made the Management Trainee Programme to attract them.
We are now recruiting graduates for the posts of personal banking trainees and teller trainees. If hired, they will receive all-round on-the-job training, through which they will fit into their new posts more easily.
ICBC (Asia) runs a sales merit point system - an objective initiative-driving system that quantifies employees' sales performance regardless of their ranks and duration of employment.
The merit points they earn will be translated into corresponding bonus payments. Under the system, the majority of the trainees have managed to reach the set targets and earn salaries on a monthly basis.
What are your immediate business and talent recruitment plans?
We strive to expand the size of our network to a total of 60 branches and 250 ATMs three years from now.
We are opening SME service centres in an effort to develop banking services for small to medium enterprises.
For retail banking services, we are expanding our comprehensive banking services, which include credit card services, cross-border and general banking services - including deposits and debit cards - and wealth management services.
So we plan to hire about 140 people this year to cope with rising demand for frontline staff, in particular branch sales personnel and tellers.
‘We value integrity more than talent’
ICBC (Asia) assistant general manager Ying Wei-yun says the bank relies on certain criteria when hiring new staff
Character ICBC (Asia) attaches great importance to an employee's character. Since banking is a service industry, we have to be true to our customers and take their interests as our top priority. That is why we value integrity more than talent. A staff member is expected to work wholeheartedly and with a positive attitude. In time, they can absorb professional knowledge.
Communication skills Frontline sales staff need to deal with customers from all walks of life. Customers have different needs. The sales personnel at ICBC (Asia) need to have good communication skills to answer customers' enquiries clearly and precisely, while handling product promotions, transactions and even complaints properly.
Learning skills The market is ever-changing. Workers in any industry have to keep learning and improving their professional knowledge and skills. Only by doing so can they provide better services for customers. Younger employees can learn assiduously to lay a solid foundation for their career.
Team spirit Transactions at the bank involve many procedures, which require some division of labour and co-operation with staff from other departments. That's why team spirit is very important to getting a job done.
Flexibility and creativity Banking employees have to be flexible and creative as financial products evolve and customer expectations rise. Staff have to provide wealth management solutions that cater to customer needs. They are also expected to have a thorough understanding of different wealth management tools and the financial market as a whole, so that they can recommend products to customers based on the level of risk they can bear.
Sales personnel have to always stay prudent at work - as a small mistake could lead to huge losses for customers or the bank. This is particularly true for frontline staff.