Anyone looking for positive signs that the local economy is on the mend need only consider the HSBC hiring initiative. The bank is taking on about 100 staff for its personal wealth management business and, to accelerate the process, has organised two walk-in recruitment events, the second of which is being held today. 'It is a great chance for people to work on a winning team,' said Francesca McDonagh, HSBC head of personal financial services Hong Kong. 'As an organisation we have just over 100 branches and serve 4.2 million account holders in Hong Kong, so potential sales people or financial managers have a large customer base to sell into.' The positions on offer are for premier relationship managers and wealth management managers. In each case the responsibilities essentially involve overseeing a portfolio of customers, analysing their needs and identifying opportunities to cross-sell suitable investment products. Key to this is the ability to attract new clients while continuing to provide quality advice and high levels of service for the existing customer base. As a point of difference, though, premier relationship managers would generally have a slightly smaller portfolio but of higher value clients with more complex financial needs. 'We are looking ideally for people with experience working in wealth management, and those with professional qualifications and licences would be preferred,' Ms McDonagh said. 'Obviously [candidates should] be bright, want to work in a leading organisation and have the potential to grow professionally.' She emphasised that all recruits would receive extensive training, both initially and as their careers developed. HSBC had made a considerable investment in programmes to give wealth management staff knowledge, experience and exposure, enabling them to perform well and maximise opportunities. This begins with a comprehensive run-through of products, systems and sales processes. It continues under the guidance of a mentor during a subsequent three- to six-month assignment with a branch, which ensures that recent recruits are more than capable of managing their portfolios and building client relationships independently and proactively. Online courses and coaching sessions are always available and proven systems are in place to measure results, provide feedback and make sure staff are clear about their individual goals. 'People need the intention to learn as much as possible, but we see it as a two-way commitment for mutual success,' Ms McDonagh said. 'Rewards are linked to performance and it is very much a meritocratic business, but HSBC has a very collective culture working for the benefit of our customers.' Andy Hon, head of retail distribution, said that walk-in open days, which offered immediate interviews and could lead to a same-day job decision, had worked well in the past. When conducting such events his practice was to start with a career talk to make sure all attendees had a thorough understanding of the job's scope and of what was expected. Things were then set up so that candidates could move quickly to a screening interview with one of the bank's HR team before meeting a line manager. 'We aim to do everything in one shot so there is no need to come back a second or third time,' Mr Hon said. 'People can expect to have a decision that day.' Provided the later background and reference checks went smoothly, successful applicants could start work within a couple of weeks. For this exercise, the basic target was to find 100 talented recruits. However, there was no rigid limit and, if interested, candidates might also be considered for alternative roles or other functions. Ms McDonagh said: 'It is an opportunity for them to shine, to show the potential and experience they have and for us to attract good talent. We recruit individuals, not only one type of person, so we would like people to be themselves, explain to us what they know and show honesty and integrity.' She added that some recruits could expect to do part of their training at the Mong Kok branch. This is where many advances in technology or aspects of customer service, such as signing-on screen to confirm a transaction, were introduced. It is also one of the centres promoting community banking initiatives with the launch of low-interest small loans, ATM facilities designed for elderly users and savings accounts especially for children.