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How banks are driving talent away

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With a gloomy economic outlook, local bankers are no stranger to the term budget cut.  A recent salary survey showed that banking professionals in Hong Kong will be expecting pay cuts in 2017 .  A number of banks like HSBC and Hang Seng bank are also planning to freeze pay for next year and earlier this week Standard Chartered bank announced plans to cut jobs in Hong Kong.

While banking is still considered a high earning job, many veteran bankers have said the pressure of meeting sales quotas and the rise of fintech start-ups have made banking jobs less appealing than before.

Previous studies have shown that graduates from top local universities in Hong Kong are not keen on joining the banking industry. According to a post shared on Hong Kong Discussion, they might be making the right choice.

Here are the 10 most outrageous rip-off policies and practices as listed by an employee in the banking sector.

Forcing staff to show up early 
The official work day starts at 8:50 a.m., but staff need to show up at least 30 minutes early because there is a morning meeting at 8:40. Management expects staff to get changed and be prepared for work as soon as the clock strikes 8:50 a.m., so the actual arrival time for many staff is 8:20 a.m.

The bank plays hard to get with overtime pay
Banks used to be some of the few employers in Hong Kong that care about compensating staff with overtime, but not anymore according to the writer of the post. The bank which he served in has an overtime compensation policy, but the terms are so stringent, it is almost possible for one to claim.

To begin with, the official working day finishes at 5:30 p.m. but staff are not eligible to apply for overtime pay if they leave before 6:30 p.m.  If staff are in a meeting, and the meeting runs past 5:30 p.m., staff cannot apply for overtime pay at all because they are in a meeting and therefore “not working”.

No cash for overtime compensation
The bank offers time off as compensation for overtime, not cash. Staff can return to work one hour later if they worked an extra hour the day before. But since staff are mandated to show up 30 minutes early at work, the one hour compensation is really only 30 minutes.

No more 5-day work week
The 5-day work week of banks used to be a main attraction for staff, but not anymore. Banks are now open for half a day on Saturday. At least staff used to get 1.5 times their salary for working on a Saturday, but now all they get for working on two Saturdays is an extra day off, as working on Saturdays is no longer considered overtime work.

The suffocating selling culture
Management believes everybody in the bank needs to be selling for the bank to be profitable. Supervisors must push front-line staff really hard to meet quotas, and even tellers have to meet sales quotas, making the bank a nightmare workplace.

Overwhelming product offers
In a place where everybody needs to sell, staff need to memorise a huge amount of product knowledge which must be updated constantly.

With so many offers and offer deadlines being changed on a daily basis, it is simply impossible for staff to keep track. To make things worse, banks hire “secret shoppers” to test the product knowledge of staff, and management will name branches with staff who gave wrong answers.

Relationship managers only get 70% of their commission
Where does the remaining 30% go? Management decides to keep it until the end of the year, as part of the employees’ year-end bonus. This means managers don’t get fully paid for their services unless they stay until the end of the year. Great talent retention strategy.

10 points is passing mark for customer service review
It is common for banks to ask for customers’ feedback through after-service surveys, in which customers are usually asked to rate the performance of a staff member on a scale of one to ten. Many customers would think 8 is a pretty good score, but no. Only the full 10 out of 10 is considered a pass.

And do you think staff who failed their customer service review are able to ask their supervisor for a pay raise or promotion at the end of the year?

Zero support for staff’s professional development 
While banks encourage staff to invest in their career, no support is provided. Staff need to use their own private time to study on top of having to work overtime almost every day of the week.

High turnover rate leading to unsteady talent pool
Every year, banks spend resources on hiring management trainees.  But because of the toxic working environment set out above, most of these fresh graduates quit after a year.

The veterans in the bank end up having to train new staff every year because they work with a new team every year.

ALSO READ: How your workplace can turn toxic

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