Online skills key to advancement
As technology changes social and business practices, there is a growing interest among banks to further improve their electronic systems for the benefit of customers.
Kathryn Shih, chief executive at UBS Wealth Management, Asia-Pacific, says technology is becoming more important in the industry and it will be managers with the adaptability and resources, including information technology (IT) specialists, who will outperform the competition.
"Wealth management clients now expect their advisers to be even more technically astute and knowledgeable in financial markets which will require significant investment in education, compliance and technology by wealth managers," Shih says.
"Technology is critical in that you need a strong platform to deliver services. So experienced IT specialists are in demand," says Enid Yip, chief executive officer at Bank Sarasin.
"But private banking is more than managing your accounts online - it's all about a distinctly personalised service and technology can be leveraged to assist that approach," Yip says.
Banks are notoriously candid when discussing technology, emphasising that the risk protection systems they use are the best available.
Internet risk specialists, however, warn that the convenience of using technology carries a risk. The regional director of Symantec Hosted Services, a firm which provides internet security solutions, estimates that organised criminals drive 90 per cent of all breaches. Nigel Mendonca says banking clients are targets and there have been incidents where attempts, some successfully, have been made to illegally obtain passwords and personal details.
Roy Ko, centre manager of Hong Kong's computer emergency response team at the Hong Kong Productivity Council, says computers and hand-held communication devices could become compromised without the user being aware. This can occur when users follow a hyperlink posted by a financial organisation or even a friend on MSN.
"When the user clicks on these links, they may get infected by malware," Ko says.