The Chapman Consulting Group yesterday hosted a discussion group for HR Divisional Heads in the Banking Sector in Hong Kong. The session was hosted the Asia Pacific headquarters of Moody’s. Discussion focused on HR transformation and the impact that this is having on the HR service delivery model, HR talent attraction and retention. HR Divisional Heads were in attendance from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, Fidelity, UBS, HSBC and several other banks.
The morning started off with a presentation by Dan O’Connell, the MD HR APAC for Moody’s on the company’s business performance, footprint and plans for the region. This was followed by a short update by The Chapman Consulting Group CEO, Matthew Chapman, on the latest HR trends impacting the HR profession in the banking sector. He talked about the fact that most banks in the region remain in consolidation mode, from an HR talent perspective. Headcount is not being added and banks are making do with what they have, meaning more double and triple-hats. The upside of this is that banking HR Leaders have become more resourceful on using their existing talent, so retention has improved and people are getting more of a chance to move outside their area of core
specialization (i.e. generalists now often being moved into specialist areas). The downside is that many HR talent pools, internally, are becoming tighter and tighter, so should a team lose a “key pillar” then the bank may be forced into external hiring.
The main focus of the discussion was on HR transformation. This was a hot topic on the minds of everyone in the room. Some banks were further through the cycle than others. Four key observations that were made from the discussion on HR transformation were as follows:
Communication is Key
It is important to be as transparent as possible so that the HR team knows the project plan and timeline. It is important to position “change” as productive and non-threatening, as fear of change is one of the key reasons HR talent is out looking in the market.
The HR Team Needs to Work Together
Separating tactical and higher level HR functions, and sometimes creating a separate layer in the middle (some of the banks were experimenting with this) puts a big onus on all the “streams” aligning on the same mission. One of the dangers of HR transformation is when different HR functions start to work against each other, especially when the service levels of the business are interrupted.
Effective HR Models Need Continual Tweaking
Those HR Leaders who had embarked on an ambitious plan to “get it right first up” commented that they were left sorely disappointed. The trick to building a great HR model is to not expect it to work perfectly at the start, post transformation, and have constant reviews of the model. Communicate with staff that this “tweaking” is to be expected.
HR Talent Management Strategies Become Even More Vital
This is especially the case when the HR model is tinkered with. In the past, where an HR talent could join in an entry level role and work their way up to a senior position, this is not always possible in the new age if careful attention is not given to encouraging talent movement between the different specialist functions.
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