The presence of senior figures from Hong Kong's central bank, the Monetary Authority, in the Institute of Bankers is seen as an indication of its importance to the financial sector. The vice-president of the authority, David Carse, serves as a council member. 'The institute plays an important role in promoting training and education issues in Hong Kong and, given that Hong Kong is an important financial centre, banking is a very important part of Hong Kong,' Mr Carse said. 'As that role increases, the role of the institute will also increase.' One of the most crucial developments in the institute's work is the extension of its training facilities to mainland bankers who now sit for the institute's exams and are often the top performers. Mr Carse rejected suggestions that the mainland banking system was still too far removed from the SAR's. 'Banking is a global issue. There are key elements of banking which apply to all systems. Chinese bankers are involved in international banking issues and the institute is doing a good job in helping to train them. 'From a bank regulator's point of view, at the end of the day the quality of management is what determines the soundness of a bank. One important quality in management is the level of education and training. From our point of view, it is very important to have a body which provides that training.' The Monetary Authority also encourages its staff to seek qualifications at the institute. 'One of our criteria for promotion is qualifications and certificates issued by the Institute of Bankers. As an employer of staff, we have a direct interest in what the institute does,' he said. Monetary Authority head Joseph Yam and the authority's head of banking, K. F. Li, both serve on the institute's executive committee. 'As the central bank, we lend our weight to the work of the institute and especially to promote their efforts in China.' Mr Carse believed the institute would have to constantly develop the content of its training as banking became more competitive and complex. New products such as derivatives and the challenges of new technology would keep bankers on their toes. One of the advantages of banking in the mainland was that new technology was available for use without banks having to go through the same process of evolution as their counterparts elsewhere. 'Sometimes that is easier. It's more difficult to replace the existing system than build a new one from scratch. 'What is also needed though is the human development aspect, and that is where the Institute of Bankers plays an important role. If you look at the performance of banks in the region, then you have to conclude that the institute is doing a very good job,' Mr Carse said. 'It is in our interests to have a body promoting good management and, if we can help by lending support, we will. We benefit, our staff benefits and the institute benefits from our support.'