Wing Lung banks on mainland exposure
As China assumes an increasingly important role in the economic sphere, mainland work experience adds a competitive edge to any young professional’s skill set.
Recruits joining Wing Lung Bank’s two-year graduate trainee programme are required to do a three-month stint on the mainland, working on a regular basis with their colleagues from the parent company, the China Merchants Bank Group.
Little wonder that the programme, which was redesigned and relaunched last year, is so popular that the bank received over 1,000 applications for the 10 positions available. “This year, we plan to recruit another 10 high-calibre candidates,” says Beryl Chan, head of the human resources department at Wing Lung Bank.
Applicant should be fresh graduates with a bachelor’s degree or above, but candidates with up to two years’ work experience will also be considered. The ability to speak Putonghua well enough to interact effectively with customers and business partners is also important.
“To cope with the fast-changing financial market, candidates should be dynamic, willing to take on challenges and strive for excellence. Since they are expected to take up junior management positions in future, they should be decisive, self-demanding and farsighted,” says Chan, adding that applicants should also have a passion to develop their career and professionalism in banking and have a commitment to Wing Lung Bank.
The bank embraces three core values – professionalism, enterprise and cohesion. Accordingly, it welcomes people who aim for excellence, appreciate teamwork, and are innovative and eager to improve.
Candidates will sit an aptitude test, a written test and a panel interview. “Through these exercises, they are assessed in terms of logical and analytical thinking, inter-personal and presentation skills, leadership and emotional quotient, and their understanding of the banking industry and current affairs,” says Chan.
Depending on their interest and abilities, they can specialise in one of several functional areas, such as commercial or corporate banking, operations management and treasury. During the two-year training, they will undergo a series of carefully designed classroom training, job rotation and job attachments.
Firstly, trainees will attend classroom orientation offering an overview of key banking services, professional ethics, compliance issues and relevant soft skills, such as business and social etiquette.
They will then join job rotations and tailor-made job attachments to get firsthand experience of daily operations, as well as projects with future business partners.
The third stage is a three-month job attachment on the mainland. “It provides trainees with a unique chance to explore the banking practices, culture and regulatory environment of mainland China, enabling them to grasp any cross-boundary business opportunities that arise,” Chan says.
Finally, trainees will be assigned to work in the functional area of their original choice. Training and mentoring will be continuously provided. Coaching partners closely monitor and evaluate the progress of each trainee and regular feedback is given to help them improve and excel.
“As learning is always a two-way process, trainees will also be requested to regularly present their observations on designated topics, to demonstrate their understanding and progress. The human resources department, as the programme co-ordinator, will actively keep in touch with the trainees to offer guidance where appropriate,” Chan says.
Trainees’ good performance will be recognised and they will be considered for junior management positions in their respective functional areas, she adds.
Ben Huang, who joined the programme last year and currently works in the commercial banking department, says that critical thinking and interpersonal skills are crucial.
“Critical thinking can develop one’s ability to evaluate or analyse information gathered from clients. With good interpersonal skills, one can build up and maintain good relationship with clients and colleagues,” he says.
Huang also advises trainees to be prepared for the challenges ahead, develop their critical thinking to solve problems and have a positive attitude.