The banking industry is expected to face continued pressure to retain staff and find new employees this year as lenders expand their business to benefit from the robust economy, bankers say. 'The battle for talent will be equally demanding this year, if not more so,' said Benjamin Hung Pi-cheng, head of consumer banking at Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong). Staff turnover at Hong Kong lenders increased to an average 15.18 per cent last year from 14.12 per cent in 2005, according to a Watson Wyatt survey of 41 banks. Mr Hung said the shortage of good staff varied according to the job with turnover in consumer banking ranging from 15 per cent to 20 per cent, most notably in wealth management as lenders sought to expand their fee income business. 'Private banking and financial planning institutions are also looking for similar talent,' he said. Standard Chartered had improved its staff retention last year, with the turnover of relationship managers declining to the mid-teens from about 20 per cent in 2005, Mr Hung said. Even so, the bank might have to hire 200 to 300 consumer banking staff this year for business growth. The introduction of a five-day work week and a decision by some big lenders to stay open at weekends created a need for more workers in the industry, said ICBC (Asia) director and deputy general manger Stanley Wong Yuen-fai. 'The fast-growing mainland banking market has also attracted many managerial staff,' he said. Growing demand is helping to push up remuneration, with an attractive package a key factor, if not the only element, in attracting staff as institutions hunt for talent. Jerry Chang So-ping, director of executive search firm Barons, said some lenders last year were paying premiums of 20 per cent to 100 per cent on the usual pay, depending on the skill set being demanded. Pay rose on average 3.74 per cent last year, based on a survey of 32 banks by Watson Wyatt. Wage increases would continue this year as lenders seek to retain staff, market watchers said. Hang Seng Bank last month said it would increase pay between 1.5 per cent and 8.75 per cent this year. Standard Chartered had yet to decide pay increases for this year but any rises would ensure the bank stayed competitive, Mr Hung said.