Prepared minds reap rewards
The financial services industry is one of the biggest sources of employment in Hong Kong and the brisk rate of change within its banking sector over recent years has only served to increase its need for high-quality graduates.
Rapid economic growth in the region, increasing competition between the players in the industry, regulatory changes and technological developments are all factors ensuring that banking continues to evolve at a fast pace.
So the presence at the upcoming Classified Post Career Forum of Teresa Law, the former head of human resources for global consumer banking at Citibank in Hong Kong and an honorary advisor to the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers (HKIB), is extremely timely. Law is an ideal position to provide an overview of the challenges, and the exciting possibilities, awaiting young people joining one of Hong Kong's banks.
"I would like to share with the audience my knowledge of career prospects in the banking industry, as well as the ways in which one can pave the way for a successful career path in banking," Law says. "Banking has always been a demanding industry to work in and yet there are ample opportunities for career advancement for the right candidates."
While acknowledging financial institutions' ongoing need to hire a significant number of talented young people, Law also points out that banks have no intention of lowering their standards when recruiting.
"There is always a high demand from the banking industry for students and graduates; however, this is not to say that banks would welcome anyone knocking on their doors. Though candidates do not have to have a vast knowledge of banking, some relevant education and training - like that provided by the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers - is desirable."
Courses run by the HKIB target different levels of experience, ranging from senior management currently working within the industry to those yet to join it.
The HKIB's Advanced Diploma in Banking and Financial Services for Accredited Banking Practitioners gives young people who are considering a career in banking the essential knowledge they will need. It also gives the chance to gain accreditation after one year's banking and finance-related work experience.
But more importantly, Law believes, potential bankers should remember that "only prepared minds will gain access to banking careers".
She says that banks are looking for people with the highest standards of integrity, very good communication and people skills, and a talent for analysing and solving problems. It is also important that they see things from a global perspective.
"Banking is a dynamic and fast-paced industry. Successful banking professionals need to be active learners and willing to keep abreast of finance and banking-related knowledge, economic trends and developments. They should also be able to work well under pressure, think outside the box and be adaptive to change."