Sep 21, 2011

Leadership development is key to retention at banks in China

Banks’ leadership capabilities are becoming more critical to their retention efforts in China. The mindset that ‘reputation and leadership is not as big a deal as compensation’ is changing.

Wendy Wu, accounting and financial service consultant at Antal International, says senior management should create and maintain a good image for their firm. Strong leadership skills at the top are therefore important for retaining talent throughout the organisation.

For example, Mr Ma, an account manager at GF Securities, says his first consideration when looking for a new job is the quality of the leadership and the employer brand. “I don’t care too much about the compensation, with my 10 years’ experience. I focus more on the upper management – whether they can communicate well and understand what is happening with employees.”

Stephen Rice, training manager at Antal Training Solutions, also stresses the importance of leadership skills. “On average, managers here in China have five years’ or less experience on the job, which often means they lack the expertise to lead and for their knowledge to be effective.”

The talent shortage is forcing most institutions to lower their expectations and hire personnel with less experience, with the intention of training them. This means that leadership development – such as management training programmes and executive coaching – is the number-one training request, says Rice.

Putting strong leaders in place is all the more important at foreign banks in China. “The sector is still small and talent is in short supply, so most employees change roles quite often. They seek more benefits and career development. So in the next few years, foreign banks really need to reduce the turnover rate and maintain talents for longer,” says Wu.