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DBS in search of ‘financial doctors’

Published on Thursday, 01 Mar 2012
DBS Treasures executives Derek Chung (left) and Kenny Ng says a rewarding career awaits applicants with five core competencies. Photo: Berton Chang

Banks seem to be in strong competition for hiring wealth or relationship managers to expand their market coverage and serve their clients better. Needless to say, a good career path with a strong bank is a winning formula for attracting talented job applicants.


“The employment market is quite hot,” says Derek Chung, managing director for the Treasures department and distribution head for consumer banking at DBS Bank. “It is challenging to find the right people, but our good market position and strategy help.”

Chung’s department employs about 900 staff members as of February 2012 – out of the over 4,000 employed by DBS Bank in Hong Kong – and is hiring relationship managers, among other positions

“In 2012, we target to have about 150 relationship managers, increasing the number of managers by 30 to 50 people over last year’s headcount. Building a professional team is key to our success,” Chung says.

He is proud that DBS is a predominantly Asian bank, and has a strong capital position with “AA” ratings. It has also been nominated as the “Safest Asian Bank” by Global Finance magazine for three years in a row. This demonstrates the stability of the brand to candidates, Chung says.

He adds that another attraction of employment with the bank is the well-established career ladder offered to those with good investment and wealth management knowledge.

Starting as financial services manager, employees can be promoted to Treasures relationship manager, serving personal accounts. From there, they can become a private client relationship manager at Treasures and then private banking relationship manager, serving high net-worth individuals.

They can also join the management stream, from Treasures Centre manager, to branch manager and district manager. Specialist roles are also open to applicants, such as investment or insurance consultants, working with relationship managers and providing in-depth information on products.

The role of relationship manager requires resilient, self-driven and enthusiastic applicants who work with determination.

Chung says employees should have five core competencies. They should establish close relationships with their customers and understand their needs. High performance and initiative, as well as teamwork and risk awareness, are also appreciated. Employers should show leadership and innovation while managing change. Relationship managers should also adapt quickly to changing market conditions, Chung adds.

The bank has been relying mostly on “home-grown” talent who first joined the bank as management associates, and who – after two years of training and job rotations – started climbing the ladder.

Kenny Ng, who joined DBS in 2004, is currently assistant vice-president and relationship manager of consumer banking with DBS Treasures Private Client. “Our role is just like a ‘financial doctor’, serving the customers’ financial needs. It is an evergreen industry,” he says.

Fresh hires go through a two-day induction, which is followed by continuous service training. The DBS Academy provides different forms of training for different levels of seniority, including classroom, online and offsite sessions. The integrated sales curriculum, plus internal mobility via job rotation and job enrichment, provides people development.

“Hard skills are still relatively easy,” Chung notes. “It is more difficult to teach how to serve well, give advice and prompt answers, and find the right time for information sharing.”

He says that, last year, the market was quite choppy, and it was invaluable for investors that they received prompt information and in-depth advice, so they were well informed when making decisions.

Ng adds that the financial tsunami was the most challenging period so far in his time at the bank. But the fact that they regularly contacted, updated and advised customers helped increase the level of trust in their services. “Our relationship tightened. We managed to turn a crisis into an opportunity,” Ng says.

The company also has a varied programme for employees, such as the annual “Bring kids to work” day, “DBS Got Talent”, an annual dinner for all 4,000 staff members and volunteer action, Chung adds.

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