The Financial Career Institute was established earlier this year with the mission to enhance industry professionalism for the overall benefit of Hong Kong. It provides comprehensive and practical education in finance and banking to train and groom the next generation of financial and banking professionals. Owned and established by Standard Chartered Bank, the institute enjoys the full support of the bank's top management. 'Both our chief executive, Mervyn Davis, and group executive director, Peter Wong Tung-shun, have faith in personal development. The bank actively supports and sponsors youth development in the community. The institute is also a way for us to give back to the community,' said Sheila Wong Shue-ngar, head of the institute. The institute found that the banking system as a whole was not sharing best practices and grooming the best talent in a systematic, structured way. 'With proven principles and 150 years of success, the bank has a lot of best practices to share. Plus we have the field experts and effective training methodologies for people [wanting] to learn from us,' Ms Wong said. The strategic objectives of the institute are to provide the best learning solutions and leading industry practices in the local market. 'We do not merely provide standard programmes and classroom training. We also work with corporations in developing customised training programmes and offering a whole package of consultancy on solutions in the areas of staff development, assessment or recruitment,' she said. Aiming to provide a total learning experience to its corporate and individual clients, the institute adopts a tailor-made approach. It obtains a thorough understanding of the needs of every client, and helps them to measure and assess the results of their training. 'We want to be the right learning partner for our clients,' she said. For individuals, the institute also conducts a thorough assessment on career aspirations, preferred learning style and specific needs for adjustment of training. 'We will determine the most effective learning method and plan the number of students in a class accordingly. With a maximum of 25 per class, we allow more flexibility in learning and teaching. We want to ensure that the knowledge and skills acquired are applicable and practical,' Ms Wong said. On completion of the training, the institute runs a three-month follow-up programme. 'We encourage them to start an alumni club to share information and insights. This should serve as a good networking platform for the graduates.' The first 'individual' programme will be launched next January. It is targeted at those who wish to embark on a banking career either as personal financial consultants or customer service officers. 'It is an intensive programme comprising 230 training hours over nine months. It will help the participants gain a good knowledge of the industry in order to compete with people with real experience.' Besides acquiring practical knowledge, participants are given opportunities to work at the bank. 'The top 10 per cent of performers get a final-round job interview with Standard Chartered.' The institute opened its first premises in April, and plans to extend the training school concept to different parts of the world including Africa, Britain, Europe, China, Singapore, Taiwan, India and the Middle East. Although it is relatively new, the institute has received good feedback from the market. 'Apart from banking clients, we also work with hotels and corporations. But our biggest client is still Standard Chartered,' Ms Wong said. 'In addition, we have experienced an enormous demand from China - banks there are eager to gain the necessary skills and servicing standards for their operations. 'When most corporations are cutting costs and trying to economise training, the optimal way is to outsource the training function to us. The companies who will eventually lose are those who stop developing their people. 'Like capital investment, training is not an option that you can choose not to invest in. This will damage the growth and sustainability of an organisation. The game we are in right now is maximising the value of the training.'