The shelves in the new boardroom of the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers are laden with gifts and mementoes from overseas institutes that maintain regular correspondence with the Hong Kong body. Overseas liaison forms an important part of the work of the institute, which has links with more than 30 foreign organisations. 'Attendance by our representatives at international conferences increases the awareness of peer organisations of the role of the Hong Kong institute in maintaining high standards in banking education,' said Edwin Lau, deputy chairman of the institute. There are mutual benefits as the Hong Kong institute draws lessons from other organisations. Overseas specialists are invited to the region to conduct seminars and the expenses involved in their trips are shared by the participating institutes. Good teachers are also sourced through references from other institutes, 'There are too many people offering substandard courses, so we are able to check on their reliability through liaison work,' Mr Lau said. Through international liaison, sister institutes share literature and publications to ensure Hong Kong members are kept informed of global developments in banking. Internet web sites are also utilised to keep information flowing. Members who are offered jobs in foreign countries can make use of the institute's network to get objective information about their prospective employers. 'We can contact the foreign institute directly in such a case and get an honest answer about the reliability of the organisation in question,' said Cecilia Ting, chief executive officer of the Hong Kong institute. 'Hong Kong is like a big brother in the region. We have been participating in banking education for a long time and newcomers, such as Vietnam and Cambodia, are keen to learn about the development of banking examinations and syllabuses, and how to set up courses,' Mr Lau said.