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Preparing for a changing financial landscape

The Business Times speaks to two leading banks about their efforts to groom talent to meet the demands of today's financial services sector, as well as two banking professionals who have achieved excellence through IBF certification

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"UBS prides itself as an organisation that continues to invest in the development of talent to create a pool of experts capable of providing high-quality and consistent advice," says Mr Gan.
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"By participating in IBF-accredited training programmes, our employees are equipped with the relevant certifications and skills to better deliver our comprehensive suite of products and world-class service to clients," says Ms Lee.
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"We should never stop learning. I am always on the lookout for good courses that will allow me to broaden my horizons, and to develop and grow in my career," says Mr Koh.
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"I would like to improve my effective communications skills to be able to better deliver persuasive and impactful presentations. I believe that these are soft skills which require constant refinement and development at any stage," says Mr Mar.

PARTICIPANTS

  • Eddie Gan, country team head, Singapore and Malaysia, UBS Wealth Management.
  • Lee Yan Hong, head of Group Human Resources, DBS Bank (DBS was IBF Inspire Award Winner 2015)
  • Koh Fu Khai, assistant vice-president, UOB (Joint IBF Aspire Award Winner 2015)
  • Matthias Mar, senior associate, customer and employee experience project manager, DBS (IBF Aspire Award Winner 2016)

Moderator: Francis Kan


The Business Times: What Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) certification programmes are being run at the bank?

Mr Gan: The UBS Wealth Management (WM) Diploma is an internal certification programme that received IBF advanced certification in 2014. It is a comprehensive programme, which covers technical, legal, risk and compliance advisory and sales skills, both in trainings and assessments. UBS is one of the few banks that has its internal programme accredited by IBF.

Through an extensive advisory process training, the WM Diploma required of all UBS client advisors, we are investing in their education and development to ensure they are fully prepared with the skills and capabilities necessary to provide our clients with the best service.

Ms Lee: Since the introduction of IBF standards in 2005, we have developed eight IBF accredited in-house programmes across the different industry segments and participated in several IBF accredited external programmes from Wealth Management Institute (WMI), Singapore Management University (SMU) and International Compliance Training Academy (ICTA).

These have helped staff acquire relevant skill sets under a framework that aligns learning and development initiatives, business objectives and industry standards.

What makes these programmes "uniquely DBS" is the way the curriculum is designed and delivered. The modules are developed after intensive consultation with our internal subject matter experts to ensure relevance. This course is designed to enable practical application of skills learnt at the workplace.

BT: What are the key goals of pursuing IBF certification for your employees, especially in light of the changing landscape for financial services?

Mr Gan: UBS prides itself as an organisation that continues to invest in the development of talent to create a pool of experts capable of providing high-quality and consistent advice. Over the years, the global wealth management industry has been impacted by changes in the financial regulation landscape, rapid pace of technological advancement, as well as the evolving role of the Asia-Pacific with the rise of China.

Amid the changes, the IBF Standards has been the consistent quality assurance framework for the financial industry in Singapore. In a similar way, the WM Diploma programme has been setting the bar of excellence for our client advisors in providing our clients with the best service.

Ms Lee: DBS aims to be the "University of Banking Talent", developing our employees who help make us one of the best banks in the world. We provide opportunities for them to learn and excel in their careers through exposure, education and experiential learning.

One of the ways we enable our people to build skill sets is through IBF certifications and training. This is also a key consideration of the different departments in DBS who have adopted the IBF standards as part of the staff-development journey.

For example, the business head for our DBS-SMU Professional Certificate in Treasury and Markets is putting all staff at assistant vice-president rank or below who have been in a sales or trading role for less than five years through this programme.  

BT: How has certification transformed capabilities within your organisation?

Mr Gan: We are pleased to have the IBF certification as a high standard benchmark that evolves with the fast-changing demands on practitioners in the financial industry.

This ensures that our programmes are continually maintained so client advisors are well-equipped to meet the increasing demands of clients and the changing landscape.

Ms Lee: By participating in IBF-accredited training programmes, our employees are equipped with the relevant certifications and skills to better deliver our comprehensive suite of products and world-class service to clients. Embedding these programmes within our training and development frameworks ensures that our staff are familiar with and capable of applying industry best practices in their day-to-day business dealings. This benefits both our clients and our employees. 

For example, DBS/POSB Branch Treasures Relationship Managers who attend IBF-accredited training are better prepared to take on bigger roles across the DBS Wealth Continuum (Treasures, Treasures Private Clients and Private Client).

BT: What other plans are in the pipeline for developing talent?

Mr Gan: Building the wealth management talent pipeline is a priority for us. This underpins our commitment to talent development and widening the talent pool in Singapore and across the region.

With increasing demands from markets, regulators and clients, UBS is always ready to invest in our human capital through a structured developmental plan aligned with our business strategy and priorities, whether it is in the area of risk management and compliance, market trends and development, leadership skills, wealth planning and client management soft skills.

Their continuous development is key to maintaining our competitive edge in the wealth management industry and, more importantly, providing the best for our clients.

Ms Lee: Our long-term goal is to go beyond classrooms and courses, and focus on ensuring employees access the right learnings at the right time in the right way to best enhance their capabilities. We are inculcating an innovative mindset by embracing new ways of learning.

The DBS Academy is an innovative learning centre that provides a progressive, integrated and career-based learning curriculum for staff. Our new state-of-the-art Consumer Banking Simulation Branch represents our shift from classroom-based learning to simulation-based application. It is designed to resemble a real business environment and is equipped with technology that makes banking seamless and effortless for our customers, so as to make training more realistic for our staff.

A FRUITFUL LEARNING JOURNEY

BT: What IBF certification programmes have you pursued?

Mr Koh: SMU Executive Certificate in Commercial Banking (IBF Level 1)

Mr Mar: I was nominated by the bank to pursue the IBF-SMU Professional Certification in Technology and Operations.

BT: What was the experience like?

Mr Koh: The course was designed and structured specially for corporate bankers. I learnt the basic principles of credit and financial analysis, structuring of credit facilities to meet client needs and how to identify cross-selling opportunities to serve clients better. In addition, it was very insightful to hear from the course trainer, who was an ex-banker and shared many of his personal experiences with us.

Mr Mar: The programme provided me with a holistic perspective on the technology and operation space of the banking sector. The personal sharing from lecturers who are veterans in their respective scope of work also helped harness my ability to better understand best practices and potential pitfalls that I may encounter in my early career. The overall experience was one that I definitely found valuable as it provided me with a good foundation to perform my tasks with added confidence.

BT: How has certification helped you in your job?

Mr Koh: With the knowledge I have gained from the course, I am now better equipped to provide clients with the right solutions that will help them achieve their financial ambitions. Hearing from my course mates their own stories, I have also widened my perspectives, which has enriched my career. I also expanded my network with the new friends made.

Mr Mar: I was able to better understand the technical aspects of the System Integration Testing as part of the project life cycle, as well as to prepare a comprehensive User Acceptance Test Plan and identify potential project risks. The programme has equipped me with good project management skills to address challenges and mitigate project risks promptly.

In terms of project delivery, this certificate has enabled me to collaborate well with both internal and external stakeholders such as business users, technology teams and vendors to come up with a viable solution, amid a demanding project timeline.

BT: How else do you intend to continue to develop your skill sets?

Mr Koh: We should never stop learning. I am always on the lookout for good courses that will allow me to broaden my horizons, and to develop and grow in my career. I also continue to learn from my bosses, colleagues and clients day to day, and to think of how things can be done better. Besides knowledge and technical skills, it is also important that I uphold values that will maintain the trust earned from my clients.

Mr Mar: I would like to improve my effective communications skills to be able to better deliver persuasive and impactful presentations. I believe that these are soft skills which require constant refinement and development at any stage.


Setting the standard

THE IBF Standards is a set of internationally-benchmarked competency standards, developed by the industry, for the industry. It provides a practice-oriented approach to talent development. Certification under the IBF Standards is an industry endorsed mark of quality that recognises you as an individual who exhibits professional excellence, integrity and commitment to the industry. The IBF Standards covers 13 industry segments in the financial sector. The three levels of IBF Certification are: IBF Qualified, IBF Advanced and IBF Fellow/Distinguished Fellow.