Morgan Stanley Asia, the leading investment bank, took third-place in Best Employers in Hong Kong 2003 awards for its distinct people practices. The bank was encouraged to take part this year after winning the Best People Management Award in 2000, an award organised by the Hong Kong government. 'The previous recognition helped set standards and also boosted staff morale and satisfaction; we hope this award will have a similar impact,' Alexandria Albers, the bank's managing director and chief administrative officer, says. The bank started operations in Hong Kong in 1987, and since then it has invested heavily in its staff. 'As people are the most important assets to our business, we have been spending significant time and effort on promoting internal communications and employee satisfaction as well as providing a challenging and motivating work environment ,' Ms Albers says. To ensure a higher employee satisfaction level, the bank puts strong emphasis on three areas: people, career progression, culture and reputation. 'As we all agree and know that people prefer to work and be with like-minded people, we need to ensure our staff share similar traits and cultures,' Ms Albers says. This is achieved through a rigorous recruiting process and an extensive orientation and integration programme. Ms Albers says the team's core traits are consistent across different countries. 'We all possess high integrity to do business in a first class way'. To complement this, the bank provides considerable career progression opportunities for its staff, including opportunities at in different locations or business units. The bank believes capable staff will be motivated and driven by the diverse career openings within the organisation. Finally, the bank maintains a strong and consistent culture and reputation within the industry and society. With a culture focused on excellence, the bank strives to be the number one choice for its shareholders, clients and employees. Investment banks are often characterised as 'individualistic' - but Morgan Stanley is the opposite. 'I shall say, here we are in a congenial environment were teamwork is heavily weighted; I think this is our uniqueness amongst other industry players,' says Eddie Ahmed, executive director and head of human resources in the region. The bank also emphasises its open and honest communications with its staff. 'We have no hidden agenda, and from time to time we organise breakfast and lunch meetings for our staff to meet with the top management. Staff can ask all sorts of questions about the business, the future plans, or their benefits. 'Sometimes, they ask some very blunt questions, but we want to ensure a healthy dialogue between management and staff,' Mr Ahmed says. In addition, the bank offers a wide ranging development package to its staff. 'We do not just recruit people and then forget about their development. We do not only focus on certain individuals or units. We take care of all aspects to ensure the whole organisation develops.' Although the present business climate is very tough, the bank has not forfeited any initiatives in talent management. 'We do what is appropriate for the staff and business needs.'