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Carrie Leung, CEO of the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers, on how the shortage of talent in the finance sector can be addressed, leadership tips and how young people can get a leg up in the banking industry.

You have been at the HKIB for 15 years – what’s kept you in the role so long?
I believe banking and financial services is an industry inherently built on people. It’s the people who shape our services, build trusted relationships and continue to innovate and push the industry forward.

I see myself as a lifelong learner. I thrive on learning new skills and I also find it fulfilling to engage and empower others, especially the young generation, helping them to seize opportunities. I think this aligns closely with what we do at the HKIB – nurturing young talent, enhancing the professionalism of our banking practitioners and keeping them abreast of new developments in the banking sector.

So in short, I am driven by the purpose, commitment and belief in people and I continue to take up new responsibilities and challenges with a positive attitude.

Do you think the Hong Kong banking industry is going to see a shortage of talent once the pandemic subsides?
I think even before the emergence of the pandemic, in recent years there has been a shortage of talent in the banking industry in Hong Kong. The growing adoption of technology, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development, as well as other new industry trends such as sustainable finance have demanded a new set of skills from the workforce.

The pandemic has further accelerated digital transformation of all businesses and underscored the importance of building an adaptive and resilient workforce. To address the skills gap and talent needs for future development, the local banking community should encourage their employees to obtain banking qualifications and participate in continuous professional development, to ensure their workforce has the most forward thinking knowledge and expertise.

How fast is banking in Hong Kong being revolutionised by fintech and virtual banks?
Rapid advances in fintech are significantly changing the way banking products and services are delivered. The introduction of virtual banks in Hong Kong is also bringing in new business models and causing an uplift in the overall effectiveness, efficiency, creativity and customer engagement level of the banking sector.

Both traditional and virtual banks need to make sure they can attract and retain the qualified talent with the right array of skills and knowledge to drive the sustainable development of their business.

What advice do you have for young people looking to start a career in banking and finance?
Stay informed, educated, and qualified. Young people looking to join could consider pursuing industry-recognised professional banking qualifications that encompass both holistic and specialist topics to deepen their banking industry knowledge for a stronger professional foundation. Such qualifications can help them get a clear picture of the industry, keep abreast of the latest trends and developments and obtain a clearer perspective of their career into the future.

Describe your leadership style?
To me, the 3Cs define my leadership style: A cheerleader, coach and communicator. It’s necessary to create an environment that provides a balance of support and at the same time challenges employees while also recognising their achievements. I believe we need to remind our employees of their abilities, so they know they are always capable of doing better.

Of equal importance is ensuring that employees feel empowered because they all have an important role to play to contribute to the strategy and ambition of an organisation. It’s therefore important to ensure all employees are engaged. I believe effective communication is the foundation of cooperation and value co-creation.