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Credit bureau TransUnion aims to expand headcount by up to 20pc in 2015, writes Jolene Otremba.

Increasing demand for credit-reporting services is seeing Hong Kong’s only full-fledged, regulated credit-referencing agency grow at a remarkable pace. Chicago headquartered TransUnion grew by 55 per cent last year from 2012, and is set to further expand. 

This growth comes amid rising demand from credit providers and consumers. On the supply side, credit-reporting services are increasing as credit cards and unsecured personal loans increase. On the consumer side, more people are applying for credit-monitoring services to prevent identify theft. Meanwhile, employers and landlords are requesting credit reports from jobseekers and tenants, respectively. 

Despite these trends, there is very little awareness of personal credit management in Hong Kong. Only 1 per cent of consumers review their credit reports, compared to two-thirds of Americans. In fact, the importance of having an established credit bureau was not even realised in the city until the effects of the Asian financial crisis saw credit card delinquency reach an all-time high in 2002. That year, more than 2,000 cases of personal bankruptcy orders were issued by the courts each month, compared to only 900 in 1998.

Against this backdrop, TransUnion set up Hong Kong’s first positive consumer credit reporting system in 2003 to provide crucial credit checks and help prevent individuals from overstretching their finances. 

 As awareness of such services remains low, there is  great potential for growth. As such, TransUnion is increasing its demand for manpower. “We’ve grown quite significantly over the past few years,” says managing director Angus Choi. “A couple of years ago, we were only 40 something in terms of staff numbers and now we’ve doubled the numbers and are still expanding regionally.” 

Hires at TransUnion have gone up by 20 per cent so far this year, and the company expects to expand staff numbers by another 15 to 20 per cent next year. 

 The company is also undergoing a transformation from a traditional bureau business to one that encompasses risk management, analytics and decision-making solutions. This is also contributing to its rapid growth. “What this means is the bureau will no longer simply provide regulators with credit information and support, but will also provide risk assessment and analytics information,” Choi says. 

 The company is hiring candidates for all departments, from client-facing sales and frontline staff to its IT department. While each role has its own requirements, Choi emphasises candidates should demonstrate certain universal attitudes. “At Trans8Union, we have a set of global beliefs, which we call TransUnion’s values and beliefs, and it is critical staff know these slogans and what the company stands for,” he says. 

These values include taking strong ownership of your job, being a team player, and being innovative. “You have to be accountable for everything that you do and you must be a corporate citizen,” Choi says. “You need to make a difference, think out of the box, and also think of things that will help the company to grow. Every member has a significant contribution [to make]. Indeed, any successful company is not just one person but a team.” 

Choi adds that passion and innovation are key qualities that the company looks for. “Since this is a growing company and there’s a lot of new business, candidates need to have a passion for making new things happen, because a lot of what we do is the first in the market.

“In fact, companies need to think ahead of their competitors in order to stay ahead, and you need an innovative mindset to do that. When you have creative ideas, you can inspire others with it and have the passion to make it happen.” 

While there is no shortage of applicants, Choi says finding the right talent has not been easy. Especially because hires come from all sorts of backgrounds, the company utilises a company wide staff referral programme to do most of its hires. Choi says this is a preferred method as it helps to ensure the quality of candidates. 

While the company expects nothing but the best from its employees, providing attractive work incentives is also crucial to maintaining staff morale. “This is a global company, so besides the package, our staff have a lot of exposure to global markets and different cultures. We focus a lot on training and make sure everyone is recognised. We try to give opportunities for posts overseas to expand their skills and scope.

“We want to help staff build their confidence, because if you build their confidence, [then they] can stretch their abilities.”

Choi also emphasises that a good work life balance is very important, and the company has been introducing many company-wide events to promote job performance through family gatherings and open days. 

“We are in growth mode, so the workload is higher, but that being said, you can’t drive people crazy, otherwise you will force them to leave,” Choi says.