China Construction Bank (Asia) will undergo a major expansion in Macau later this year in the hope of capitalising on the favourable economic climate in the city. The bank will open three new branches and will employ 30 more staff, bringing its total manpower in the enclave to 100. While there is no doubt that Macau's casinos are the biggest game in town, increased wealth in the city has had a knock-on effect on the banking sector, which has seen significant growth. There are 27 banking corporations in Macau. According to figures from the Monetary Authority of Macao, profits in the banking sector jumped 184 per cent from 2004 to 2006. Grace Lee Shuk-ha, vice-president and head of human resources at the bank, said this was an ideal time to expand its services in Macau. 'In recent years banking has been a fast-growing industry. We are expanding significantly and aim to capture the unlimited business opportunities in the years ahead.' The bank already has four branches in Macau, and each new branch - with exact locations yet to be determined - will have an ATM. 'We are not too big compared with some of the others, but in terms of percentages this is a big expansion,' Ms Lee said. Positions that need to be filled include branch managers and wealth managers. 'We are looking for candidates who have a strong belief in themselves and the desire to excel.' Ms Lee said the bank believed that the economic growth would continue as a trend for at least the next five to 10 years. 'It will lead to higher average income for the residents and increasing demand for quality and personalised banking services.' Already casino and hotel workers are receiving high wages, and applications for credit cards, car loans and mortgages at banks have increased significantly. 'Our focus in the coming years will be on high-end wealth management services,' Ms Lee said. She said the bank believed that foreign investment in Macau would also be 'very long-term'. Recruiting wealth creation staff is difficult as there are no training institutions in Macau offering specialised financial planning courses. There are only a handful of certified financial planners, registered financial planners and chartered financial analysts working in the city, and competition in the marketplace is fierce. '[Supply is] not sufficient to meet the market demand, especially for the banking industry,' Ms Lee said. 'Training for banking professionals is important, and it is difficult to find sufficient quality people.' Finding and retaining staff is another major problem faced by all sectors in Macau and the banking sector, which employs about 3,000 people, is no exception. When it comes to salaries, most businesses find it difficult to compete with what the casinos have to offer. Ms Lee said the demand for talented employees in the enclave was so great that trying to compete on salary alone was impossible. 'We offer competitive remuneration and reward systems, but we do not think remuneration [alone] can differentiate us from other employers,' she said. 'We try to create a harmonious environment and a culture of teamwork at the bank. A good working environment and opportunities for continual learning are important.' Ms Lee said that due to the labour shortage, the turnover rate of staff in Macau had increased dramatically. 'We are fortunate that ours is no worse than the market trend, which is about 24 per cent. With this market atmosphere, it is difficult to retain people and to get replacements in a timely manner.' To retain staff, the bank has increased its focus on management training. Ms Lee said that offering career paths was also important. To this end, the bank runs a training system called the Associate Development Programme, which allows employees to claim 80 per cent of their tuition fees for external courses. 'Employees must do something that is relevant to the industry and relevant to their jobs, a course that will bring value to them in the bank,' Ms Lee said. The lender has also introduced a management trainee programme that targets university students. Ms Lee said the idea was to create a 'talent pipeline' that would make up the bank's future management team. The three-year programme offers 10 to 12 months of training in general banking and the rest of the time is spent gaining specialist knowledge in selected areas. 'Our primary focus is to recruit from universities or [to attract graduates who have] limited experience,' Ms Lee said.