Career Advice Job Market Report

Career Forum Oct 2016 highlights: Banking remains an attractive prospect for top graduates and HKIB can help them along the way

As an international financial centre, Hong Kong is currently facing challenges in securing financial talent for the future as young people are increasingly attracted to other industries such as technology.

However, with this challenge come promising opportunities for young people with the right knowledge and mindset, said Dr WH Yeung, general manager of professional competence development and membership at The Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB), to his forum audience.

In his presentation entitled “Future-proofing financial talent strategies to upgrade professional competence,” Yeung explained that Hong Kong’s financial industry in general, and the banking sector in particular, still manages to attract bright graduates with high pay, job security, work-life balance, and the prestige of the industry in general.

“It has traditionally attracted top talents from local universities, joined by equally talented graduates from overseas,” he said.

To increase their attractiveness in the face of greater competition for talent, banks are taking new and positive steps to attract and retain the best graduates. Some banks, for instance, highlight their family-friendly policies to particularly attract applicants who have a strong need to manage their family responsibilities. Meanwhile, with training and development ranking high in the minds of young recruits, banks are also placing extra emphasis on this area.

Yeung is optimistic about the talent situation and pointed out three recent industry developments that are serving to attract young bankers.

“First, the rapid development of fintech [financial technology] is making the banking industry much more vibrant than before, and this is an attraction not only for financial professionals, but also for technological experts,” he said.

“Second, compliance is becoming more complex, with new issues to tackle emerging all the time. For instance, the increasing complexity of money laundering is making compliance more challenging than before. Third, new developments in asset management are also creating more options for bankers.”

Moreover, he added, the implementation of China’s One Belt One Road policy has resulted in a surge of fund-raising activities in Hong Kong, which is boosting the business volume of banks. And with the growing affluence of certain sectors of society, there is an increasing demand for all-round wealth management professionals.

To facilitate the certification of young bankers, the HKIB’s new benchmark for professionals, the Certified Banker Programme, covers general knowledge as well as specialist skills in areas such as credit, treasury and operations management.

Meanwhile, the institute’s CFMP (Certified Financial Management Planner) professional qualification programme targets wealth management professionals. This includes a professional diploma in financial planning and management – which is pitched at Level 5 in the Qualification Framework, equivalent to undergraduate level – and an advanced diploma in financial planning.

“The ecology of the financial industry is changing fast,” Yeung said. “Cybersecurity is becoming a major area of development, and there is growing integration between IT and business. The industry is hungry for talent, and offers good opportunities for young people who have the right knowledge, ambition and mindset.”

This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as A wealth of opportunities.