People wait for the opening of a China Merchants Bank's recruitment drive in Shanghai. (Photo/China Daily)
As digital banking takes hold, Chinese lenders are desperately seeking to hire professionals with skills in nine key fields, including big data analysis, mobile interface development, agile process management, digital user experience design and virtual payments.
They are focusing on management and career development of digital banking talents. Compensation packages, key performance indicators and appraisal criteria for such professional are being formulated anew, to be in line with technology companies, said The Boston Consulting Group in a report earlier this month.
David He, a partner and managing director of BCG, said traditional banks must figure out how to attract, retain and train digital talents, as well as where to deploy them. Top bank executives also have to decide whether to allow these professionals to develop freely or adjust the human resource management system accordingly.
Liu Xinyi, president of Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, said at a financial forum in June, "China deepened the interest rate liberalization in recent years, built a multilateral capital market and relaxed the control of market entry for private banks. These reform measures, along with the booming of Internet finance, brought huge challenges to commercial banks and weakened their appeal to talents."
A growing number of professionals at various levels are being lured away from State-owned commercial banks by Internet companies and privately owned lenders with the promise of higher pay and career advancement.
The exodus of banking talents was also partly triggered by a government-led salary reform effective Jan 1, 2015 to promote equality at State-owned enterprises.
According to the draft plan, the annual pay of top executives in State-owned financial organizations will be cut by around 70 percent to a top annual compensation of 600,000 yuan ($91,560).
After leaving traditional banks, many experienced professionals and senior executives, however, found that it was hard for them to adapt to new culture and work style of Internet finance companies.
WeBank, the country's first online private bank, was jointly founded by domestic Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd and two local investment firms in December 2014.
Less than a year after WeBank received regulatory approval to start operations, its president Cao Tong and vice president Zheng Xinlin resigned. Both had many years of work experience at traditional banks.
Analysts cited the clash of corporate cultures of Internet-based companies and traditional banks as one of the reasons for their departure, in addition to a factional fight among the bank brass.
Even digital talents that migrated from Internet companies to commercial banks faced similar adaptability problems.
The BCG report said the two cultures are very different. Internet companies encourage trial and error, horizontal cooperation and open dialogue. They are flexible, client-centric and innovative. On the other hand, traditional banks are rigid, channel-oriented and risk-averse. They develop products based on technologies rather than consumers. Their decision-making process usually goes through multiple layers of management.