The latest quarter one Financial Services HR Leader session in Hong Kong was hosted by Standard Chartered Bank today. It was a lively gathering as the group reflected on the end of 2011 and how the New Year was shaping up. Over 20 APAC HR Heads gathered for lunch, with representatives attending from BNP Paribas, ANZ, UBS, Nomura, Standard Bank, Morgan Stanley, AXA, BlackRock and many more.
Overall the group reflected that the focus on consolidation and transformation had continued into 2012. Like every year at this time, bonus payments and reporting dominated the discussion, surprisingly some leaders noted lower turnover in the wake of payments, versus prior year. With many financial institutions looking to maintain or reduce cost levels, the group discussed a variety of change and transformation initiatives that they were embarking on. These included upgrading IT platforms for HR and also looking at HR structure and delivery models. It was clear that the majority felt efficiency and optimisation were the current demands on them from the business.
Shared services and low cost locations for outsourcing were another hot topic. HR Leaders cited examples of shifting hubs from India to the Philippines or increasing proximity to the business by having satellite hubs in major city locations like Singapore and Hong Kong. However the most interesting shift related to those organisations successfully outsourcing to the West (based on cost comparisons). Examples included Poland and Texas, as the cost of outsourcing in India and the Philippines continued to rise as well as looking for better alignment across time zones.
The pay mix (fixed and variable) and the latest trends in the market dominated the remainder of the discussion. Almost all attendees agreed that due to the increased fixed salary component over the last few years bonus payments were going to be lower, with total compensation remaining the same for many. This was creating challenges on expectation management, retaining talent and for maintaining or reducing fixed costs.
The next Hong Kong Financial Services HR Leader Roundtable will be held on June 28th and will co-hosted by Barclays.
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