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Real Business : Winter 2008
20 REAL BUSINESSISSUE2,2008 T hese are extraordinary times for world banking, accord- ing to UK-based Michael Bencsik FCPA, senior manager, group global businesses for HSBC. In an industry still coming to terms with the fallout from the global credit crunch, and one that is continually evolving, HSBC is well placed to adapt to the future. “One of the constants in any finance professional’s role is change, which is increasing in pace, depth and breath across the banking industry,” Bencsik says. Overseeing the systems and processes HSBC has in place, Bencsik says HSBC’s finance function is a key strategic partner for the business. And at the core of the finance function are the professionals from whom much is anticipated. “You’re expected to navigate and understand the risks and capture opportunities facing companies and individuals across an array of industries, niche markets and loan sectors,” Bencsik says. “This often involves interpreting and making decisions from novel, ambiguous or complex ranges of information.” About 7500 finance staff play key roles within HSBC’s immense global operation. It has 10,000 offices in 83 countries – including 35 branches and offices in Australia – 330,000 staff worldwide and a current global asset base of over US$2 trillion. Its operations include everything from personal banking to corporate finance and securities custody. HSBC has come a long way from when Thomas Sunderland established the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in 1865 to finance British trade in the Far East. Today HSBC is the fourth-largest corporation in the world in terms of assets. The benefit of working for a huge dynamic organisation, according to Hong Kong- based Allan Lou CPA (see profile), are the tremendous worldwide opportunities it offers. “Working for HSBC means you don’t just think within the bounds of certain countries,” bUSInESSprofIlE:hSBc Lou says. “You take a global perspective.” Wendy Sun CPA (see profile), refers to HSBC as “the world local bank”. “To work in one of the world’s largest banks is very exciting,” says Sun, who is based in Sydney. “You make a lot of friends all over the world.” The HSBC business strategy is based on the increasing globalisation of banking, with customers at every level wanting access to the widest possible selection of financial products. Customers are increasingly willing to switch banks if they are not satisfied, and have more opportunities to do so. For HSBC Australia, this means there must be a focus on the needs of individual customers, whether retail or commercial, with dedicated customer teams in each branch. “HSBC’s global strategy is focused on delivering superior growth and earnings over time, with emphasis on investment in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East and Latin America,” says Bencsik, who before taking up his role in London was CFO of HSBC’s Australian operation. “Our focus is on areas where the bank has a comparative advantage – utilising our global knowledge, presence and brand – to become the international bank of choice in Australia.” Traditionally, the banking industry has placed priority on technical skills, and most banks have encouraged employees to specialise in WealTh of opporTuniTy In a dynamIc world bankIng envIronment, HSbc IS an InnovatIve player tHat relIeS on fInance profeSSIonalS to protect and enHance ItS brand, reputatIon and buSIneSS, wrIteS Derek parker Getting ahead at hSBC. Underpinning HSBC’s successful development, according to Sachin Maharaj, head of finance for HSBC Australia, is the emphasis placed on leadership training. “We have a program called Future Leaders that provides opportunities to people with good financial qualifications and a few years of practical experience to rotate through a range of positions in the global company, gaining a breadth of understanding about our operations,” he says. “The bank attracts and recruits staff from financial as well as non-financial backgrounds. The key is the capacity to understand our range of banking products, understanding the needs of our customers and how that connects to our strategic vision.” But of course, says Hong Kong-based Allan Lou CPA, in a competitive job market, it pays to be flexible: “I have two colleagues who are working mothers. They both work part time, meaning we can split a full-time role into two.”
Issue 3 2008