Career Advice Recruitment tips

Top talent in the pipeline

Citibank Hong Kong has come a long way since 1902, when it established its first office in the then British colony. The US-based company, which offers all kinds of banking services, serves over a million clients and has 4,000 employees across 49 retail branches in Hong Kong. Worldwide, it has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions.

Set up four years ago, its management training programme focuses on commercial banking and aims at developing a pipeline of banking talent.

"[They can] develop a career path within the commercial banking field, either in sales, or [as] a specialist in product or credit risk," says Maisie Lam, country human resources director, Citi Hong Kong.

While the number of hires depends on the quality of applicants, the bank recruits about 10 to 20 trainees annually and prefers those with some work experience, although students of any discipline are welcome to apply.

"Previous experience in sales or banking and finance is an advantage," Lam adds.

Jessica Cheung, a relationship manager who joined the company as a trainee five years ago, says: "In my batch, many graduates didn't come from a financial study background."

The interview process for trainee applicants includes the usual assessment test, group discussion and panel interview, which allows interviewers to check academic excellence and observe applicants' attitude.

Candidates should have a passion for developing a banking career, especially in the commercial segment. They should have a can-do attitude, team spirit and good ethics, Lam says. Although they may just be out of school, they should be able to demonstrate some leadership experience and good communication and interpersonal skills.

"Applicants who take part in volunteer work and teamwork and leadership activities show they share the same values as Citibank," Lam adds.

She says applicants should also take a long-term view of achieving their career goals. "We are looking for people who want to develop their skills, rather than individuals looking for a fast-track opportunity based on remuneration," she says.

The first year's programme involves classroom training and structured job rotation that allow trainees to learn about the different aspects of Citibank's business activities and build a network of contacts. 

Subsequently, trainees are assigned to departments within the commercial banking division where they develop through on-the-job training. They are supported by extensive coaching and mentoring.

Lam says a typical sales trainee who successfully completes the programme can expect to progress to business development manager, relationship manager, team head, or division head. Those who are interested in working in the credit or product teams also develop into specialists and take on management roles later.