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Human Resources Management Reform in Chinese Banking

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Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.

Published: Tue, 06 Mar 2018

The Human Resources Management Reform in Chinese Banking

A case of Bank of China

Chapter 1: Introduction

Challenge to Chinese Banking

December 11, 2001, after 15 years of arduous negotiations, China officially access to the WTO. On the hundreds of pages of China’s WTO accession Protocol, the financial services trade is the most important part of it and gets the most attractions from all sectors of the community. Since then, China’s financial opening was provided to an external accelerator and timetable. The all-round opening up of China’s financial industry era has begun. Until the end of 2005, 16 Chinese banks introduced foreign strategic investors and a total of 71 foreign banks from 20 countries and regions had set up 238 operational entities in China. Foreign banks enter the Chinese banking sector has always been the impact of the banking industry, academia and regulatory agencies pay close attention to the problem. Gains and risks on both sides of a coin, the Chinese foreign capital into the banking sector in the enjoyment of the proceeds must also face the attendant challenges.

Compare to foreign banks, China’s banking sector is still in a very traditional approach to management, backward technology, simple business method, single-species products and obsolete business concepts. In a long term, Chinese government takes bank as a very important part of the National Economic Sectors; therefore, four state-owned banks enjoy the monopoly state in China. Chinese government set a set of policies to protect the development of these banks. Now, China’s accession to the WTO situation, the traditional banking sector faces a foreign financial industry developed into one of the great challenges. In that case, it is urgent need for them to present the financial industry for rapid reform and the development orientation should conform to the world development trend. In the face of the challenges of the circumstances, China’s banking sector began one after another round of reforms, changes in business philosophy, business form and management form, and so on.

1.2 Aim of the Dissertation

This paper through analysis the recruitment and selection situation and human resource reform in Bank of China is to explore the human resource reform experiences and the development of human resource management in Chinese banking and it also could be a good reference to the whole Chinese banks. The aim of the research is therefore to understand the challenges with foreign banks entry into China and the current development of human resource management situation in Chinese banking. Furthermore, the human resource reform in Bank of China invited an American consultancy company as the councilor. There is no doubt saying it would begin to practice more western human resource management methods to manage this traditional state-owned bank which in a long time is considered as in a conservative industry area in China.

On one hand, these advanced western human resources concepts are introduced to China. they have to pursue their rules in line with the Chinese legislations and current situation. Therefore, related to the real situation and pool of candidates on Chinese banking to study the manipulation and transfer of recruitment and selection practices in Bank of China will help us come to further understand the development human resource management situation on Chinese Banking, especially the development of recruitment and selection field. From it we can know in what aspects the western recruitment and selection practices are more rational and scientific than Chinese local enterprises. On the other hand, these methods always implemented by foreign banks in their parent-country and now are transferred and practiced by a representative Chinese character banks. Obviously, it also could be a good reference and experience to foreign banks who want to enter into the Chinese market. In a word, this study seeks to fill the gap by evaluating the western recruitment and selection practices in China and provide a new perspective to Chinese local banks and foreign banks how to introduce these practices and manipulate them.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Long Yongtu, China’s point man on WTO negotiations, said, as the people, enterprises also need external pressure could push them ahead. If there no pressure comes from outside, China’s enterprises is impossible to form. After China’s accession to the WTO, the enterprises have to face a considerable external pressure and force them taking the path of internationalization and enhance their competitiveness. Unlike the overall economy, due to relatively weak foundation, the financial services industry will face more pressures, but in the medium and long term it will benefit more. According to Premier Zhu Rongji ‘s words, there are pros and cons for financial opening to the outside world. If we can do a good job, the advantages would outweigh the disadvantages. The so-called do a good job, can not be limited to the impact of the simple response, but conversion mechanism, update the system and improving the competitiveness in a comprehensive way.

2.1 The Status Quo and Opening- Up Process of Chinese Banking

From 1949 to the 1970s, China’s banking sector under the planned economic system running, four state-owned commercial banks play the key role of specialized banks in Chinese banking sector. The late 1980s, the new commercial banks and non-banking financial institutions had set up. Some of the newly established commercial banks, now known as the other nationwide commercial banks, allowed providing nationwide commercial banking services, while some commercial banks only allowed operating in the local market. After China’s accession to WTO, Chinese banking launched a comprehensive joint-stock reform and the successful listing. They through improve corporate governance, develop strategies, operate performance to reduce the ever-narrowing gap with the advanced international banks. Since 2003, four former state-owned commercial banks (Bank of China, People’s Construction Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China) pattern no longer exists. The U.S. Goldman Sachs share the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Royal Bank of Scotland share Bank of China, and Bank of America also become the one shareholder of People’s Construction Bank of China. At present the only state-owned Agricultural Bank of China whose shareholding system reform is now in progress. In future, there will be no state-owned commercial banks in China.

Actually, as an important component part of Open-door policy, China has opened the door to foreign banks since 1979. At the end of September 2001, foreign banks operating in China, a total of nearly 190 institutions, of which 158 branches, corporate bodies 19, two branches 13. Foreign banks total assets reach 44 billion U.S. dollars, 18.6 billion U.S. dollars loans, deposits 6.5 billion U.S. dollars, capital (including working capital) 3 billion U.S. dollars. 31 foreign banks have been permitted to conduct RMB business, including 23 in Shanghai, 8 in Shenzhen, with total assets of RMB 41 billion Yuan. In market share, foreign banks were up to 20% and 30% in foreign exchange loans and international settlement business areas. The speed of Chinese banking sector opening up, from a global perspective, still is a faster as well. Although many developed countries has joined the WTO and signed the terms of trade in services, they still not yet open up the domestic currency business to foreign banks and the implementation of geographical restrictions.

According to China’s WTO accession protocol, in the financial services industry, the banking sector is completely open commitment:

(1) Prudent business of issuing permits. It means there are not economic needs tests or quantitative restrictions in the business license. After China’s accession to WTO 5 years later, they should abolish all the existing ownership, management, foreign financial institutions and enterprises to establish branches of the non-permission of prudent measures. That is, when foreign banks apply for the establishment of branches, the People’s Bank of China in addition to carefully follow the standards can not set other restrictions. Foreign banks set up business outlets in the city, with the approval conditions of Chinese domestic bank.

(2) The timely opening of foreign exchange business. China’s accession to the WTO, foreign financial institutions will be fully liberalized to foreign exchange business and the abolition geographical and customer restrictions. In other words, once accession to the WTO, China will allow foreign banks to all customers (including Chinese-funded enterprises and Chinese residents) operating all foreign exchange operations (including the company’s business and retail business).

(3) The phased opening of RMB business. For foreign banks RMB business in China will grant to open 20 cities in four years. Five years later, they will abolish all geographical restrictions for foreign banks. In the service targets, two years after accession, foreign banks would be allow to handle RMB business with enterprises in 12 cities of China. After five years accession, foreign banks would be allowed to provide services for customers in all China.

(4) Financial advisory business categories timely open. Since the date of accession to the WTO, foreign institutions can be obtained the right to engage in related business deposits and loans, financial leasing, pay for all the designated services, security and acceptance, the company mergers and acquisitions, securities investment advisory, brokerage and other ancillary services in China.

That is to say, joining the WTO 5 years later, there are no differences in service area and service object between Chinese domestic financial institutions and foreign financial institutions. Chinese government made an important commitment to realize trade liberalization, opening up the domestic market and in accordance with international practices which go beyond the general people’s expectations.

2.2 Human Resource Management in Foreign Banks

As an increasing number of foreign banks enter the Chinese market, the content and the extent of competition crossing international borders has surged dramatically to Chinese banking. The competitive advantages of foreign banks mainly reflected in: financial advantages, institutional advantages, the network edge, technological advantages, innovative advantages and business strengths. Foreign banks expand their business in China, the biggest obstacle for them it is not familiar with the local situation, and therefore, the only way to take the short cut is to achieve the management of “localization”, because of their well-known local business, market information, public relations, skills of the management of state-owned commercial banks, and the most pressing needs of local people. Thus, human resource management inevitably becomes one of the most important fields of this competition. Especially, accompanied by the increase of foreign banks, they need to recruit more and more qualified members from local labour market. In China, owing to these foreign banks competitive salary, systematic career planning, good work condition, and oversea work opportunity .etc; their recruitment always attracts many most excellent people’s attentions. It is, thus, imperative for Chinese banks to attract, select, develop and retain best employees who can live and work effectively in this international competitive circumstance. However, China’s historical development, political structure and culture influence its business philosophy and management way. Therefore, some standardized recruitment and selection methods developed in western have to be modified according to Chinese situation. They need more reform experiences and practical opportunity. In that case, the study of recruitment and selection practices of Chinese banking, actually, illustrates how to implemented western advanced practices under conditions of high cultural and institutional distance country.

Human resource management is a systematic management relevant to recruitment and selection, training and development, performance, and rewards. All of these areas are mutual influence, interrelation and thus constitute a complete set of human resources management system. Human resources reform is in this interaction, and mutual contact conducted, thereby improving overall organizational performance, enhancing the effective and efficient of all the organization. Therefore, although this paper more concentrates on recruitment and selection area, it still will contain other areas of human resource management reform content in many places.

Chapter 3: Methodology and Research Design

3.1 Research Questions

Chapter 4: Case Study and Discussion

4.1 Introduction

Bank of China, as one of the four state-owned commercial banks, like the other Chinese state-owned enterprises, it also constrained by its obsolete institutions and management in a long time. However, on the list of “The Ideal Employer for Chinese Graduates” released by Swedish Universum Communications specialized in employer brand management, Bank of China always looms over the whole list in recently years. In 2005, surpassing such transnational banks as CitiBank, HSBC and Deutsche Bank, it tops all financial enterprises. What makes the Bank of China be able to compete successfully with these foreign banks? What is the Bank of China to surpass those of foreign banks preferential treatment salaries and oversea opportunities and finally to choose it?

As the major part of the stock holding system reform, the reform of human resource management in Bank of China is a most profound, most complex and most arduous one. Early in 2003, Bank of China had invited famous American consultancy company as the councilor of human resource reform. Combining with the bank’s actual situation and local experiences, they had worked out human resource reform program and practice scheme after repeated argumentations and revisions. In August 2004, human resource reform at the head office level was carried out. At the end of 2004, pilot reforms were conducted in its two branches in Jiangsu Province and Sichuan Province respectively. In 2005, human resource reform was implemented throughout its system in a full scale. The human resource reform in Bank of China is so spectacular that it is indeed quotable for other domestic banks.

This chapter will concentrate on the analysis of interview and documents findings in order to explore the recruitment and selection situation in Chinese banking sector as well as the development of relevant human resource management policy in Chinese banking. The other concern of this research is to compare the gap and the differences of human resource management practices between Chinese banks and foreign banks. Interviewees were selected from all levels of the hierarchy and different banks of various ownerships in order to acquire more reliable primary data and more varied opinions within the Chinese banking.

4.2 Background to Bank of China

Bank of China is one of China’s four state-owned commercial banks. Its businesses cover commercial banking, investment banking and insurance. Members of the group include BOC Hong Kong, BOC International, BOCG Insurance and other financial institutions. The Bank provides a comprehensive range of high-quality financial services to individual and corporate customers as well as financial institutions worldwide. In terms of tier one capital, it ranked 18th among the world’s top 1,000 banks by The Banker magazine in 2005.

Over the past century, Bank of China played an important role in China’s financial history. It was established in February 1912 and is China’s most long-standing history of the bank. During 1912 to 1949, the functions of the Bank of China have changed three times. From 1912 to 1928, Bank of China was the central bank of that time. In 1928 it was changed to the concessionaire of the international exchange bank. In 1942, Bank of China became the professional development of international trade banks. As the pillar of the country’s financial industry, Bank of China was committed to serving the public and developing the domestic financial sector. During these volatile years, the Bank strived to expand its presence in the market by prudent operation and aggressive reform, leading the market in many areas of its operations for a long period. Having branched out into overseas market, the Bank opened a brilliant chapter in China’s modern and contemporary banking history.

1949 founding of the PRC, the new Chinese government took over the Bank of China and in December the same year the headquarters of the Bank of China moved to Beijing from Shanghai. Bank of China in 1950 under the management of the People’s Bank of China head office leadership. October 27, 1953 the Central People’s Government Cabinet announced “the statute of Bank of China” and specifically endowed the Bank of China as the People’s Republic of China Cabinet Chartered Bank’s foreign exchange professional. From then on, Bank of China became the state-designated specialized foreign exchange bank and substantially contributed to development of foreign trade and the national economy. In 1994 and following the entrenchment of the reform of the financial sector, Bank of China was converted from a state-owned specialized bank into a wholly state-owned commercial bank. Together with the other three wholly state-owned commercial banks, it constituted pillars of the country’s financial industry.

As a Chinese financial institution with a history of almost a hundred years, the Bank is well known for its continuous business innovations, introducing many brand new products and services in the domestic banking industry. It is widely recognized and commended by its peers and customers in international settlement, foreign exchange, trade finance, etc. In 2003, it was named by the State Council as one of the pilot banks for joint-stock reform of wholly state-owned commercial banks. In order to develop itself into an internationally competitive modern joint-stock commercial bank, with the “capital adequacy, strict internal control, safe operations, good service and efficiency, building international competitiveness of the modern joint-stock commercial banks” objectives, Bank of China further improved the corporate governance mechanism, strengthened risk management and internal control system, integrated management Processes and business processes, promoted human resources management reform, speed up product innovation and service innovation, and steadily push forward joint-stock transformation. In 2004, the Bank of China from state-owned commercial banks overall restructuring for the state-controlled joint-stock commercial banks, known as the Bank of China Limited. In 2005, Bank of China introduces the Royal Bank of Scotland and Temasek, and other strategic investors. In October 2005, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC announced a $3.1 billion investment which would give the British bank control of just under 10 percent stake in the Bank of China. Further investments were made by Swiss bank UBS AG, and by Temasek Holdings Pte. Ltd, who also promised to subscribe for an additional $500 million worth of shares during Bank of China’s initial public offering. In 2006, the Bank of China listed on June 1 in the main board of Hong Kong Stock Exchange. It was the largest IPO in the world since 2000, and the fourth largest IPO in the world ever, raising some US$9.7 billion in the H-share Global Offering. The Over-Allotment Option was then exercised on June 7, 2006, raising the total value of their IPO to US$11.2 billion. In July 5, it listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. It successfully made the largest IPO in mainland China on July 5, 2006, by offering up to 10 billion A-shares on the Shanghai A Stock Exchange, or up to RMB20 billion. These were priced at RMB3.00 per share. In 2007, the Bank of China and Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) cooperated to the public private banking business of Bank of China. All of these reform and incorporation make it turn a new chapter in its history and signal a huge step forward in becoming a modern joint stock commercial bank with good corporate governance practices.

Furthermore, Bank of China is the most internationalized commercial bank in China. BOC London Branch, the first overseas branch of the Chinese banks, was established in 1929. From then on, the Bank successively opened branches in global financial centers, and has built up its network in 27 countries and regions. Currently, it had over 10000 domestic operations and over 600 overseas operations. In 1994 and 1995, Bank of China became the note issuing bank in Hong Kong and Macao respectively. It was the first among Chinese banks to recruit international experts and to introduce modern business management concepts into its operations with a view to become a premiere international bank. It has received wide recognition from its peers, customers and authoritative media for the credit and performance it achieved in past years. It has been awarded Best Bank in China and Best Domestic Bank in China by Euromoney for eight times; it has been included in the Fortune Global 500 for 16 consecutive years; in addition, it was awarded Best Domestic Bank in China by The Asset, awarded Best Trade Finance Bank in China and Best Foreign Exchange Bank in China by Global Finance, and awarded the Top 10 Product Service Enterprises in China by Far Eastern Economic Review; since BOC Hong Kong was restructured and listed in the Hong Kong stock market, it has been the winner of many significant awards, including Best IPO Investor Relation Award issued by the Investor Relations Magazine and Best Transactions and Best Privatization Award issued by Asian Finance.

4.3 The Challenges and Problems

There are gains and risks on both sides of a coin. China’s banking sector in the enjoyment of foreign capital into the revenue, it must also face the attendant challenges from it. The author is known as its “challenge” rather than “risk” or “defects”, because these challenges from the competitions of foreign banks is an integral part of the main power of Chinese banks reform. The only choice is to take the initiative to actively fight.

For a long time solely state-owned banks have absolute monopoly position in China, although such a monopoly can get benefits from its scale. However, its survival and development is formed under the planned economy of monopoly and depend on policy and the protection of the state, which resulted in China’s financial markets both single and thin. China’s banking industry, especially the four major state-owned commercial banks, has long been regarded as a government-driven development of the country’s economic engine. They had to implement of considerable mandate of government policies, including investment loans, interest-free and low-interest loans, veterans resettlement and local governments intervention. Someone describe the state-owned banks as a “dinosaur”, because the death of “dinosaur” is too much energy consumption and too slow response. When the enemy bites the tail of the dinosaur, it will need five minutes to convey this message to the brain, and then five minutes time to make a counterattack. If Chinese banks do not get rid burden, in the face of the competition of foreign banks, it is bound in a passive position. According to the statistics, to the end of 2001, the four major banks have over 100 million employees and per capita profit is only 16,700 yuan, while foreign-invested banks in the number though much less, but in the same period the per capita profits 270,300 yuan which is 16 times of state-owned banks. Now, the bank’s historical burden was getting heavier and heavier. Access to foreign banks, the existence of such a burden, China’s banks would lose the conditions for equal competition, in a very disadvantaged position.

Lack of flexibility of their personnel system and institutional setup is extremely unreasonable. Like other state-owned enterprises, Bank of China also constrained by its rigid personnel system. Because ownership is not clear, the bank’s policy-makers and operators are the same members. The lack of the necessary internal control mechanisms resulted in lower levels of management, lax management. Their assessment is not operated on actual performance-based, but in line with the government officials ranks, that is, the higher your position are and the better your assessment result can get. Furthermore, they designed banks’ job description and ranks according to the State Civil Service series. On the other hand, banks at all levels in the institutions set up on the still-led administration and management level was complexity. Compared to western commercial banks focus on customer relationship management, such pyramid-like and multi-level administrative management had proved their effects vary widely. Specific to the area of human resources management, mainly concentrated in the areas¼š

First is the traditional orientation of Human resources Management Department. The traditional orientation of Human Resources Management Department of Bank of China is only a personnel department. The majority of works remain in the “management people” and “other affairs” and it mainly reflected in attendance, personnel file management, pay and benefits, and some other traditional work. The foreign banks have taken Human Resources departments in a clear strategic position which take on the major functions of personnel training and development and as the important guarantee of banks’ core competitiveness. The main reasons of this difference lies in the banks’ human resources is not the end results of competition in the market and personnel training, lack of market concepts, leading to large-scale and very difficult to promote change.

Second is the difference in personnel recruitment and deployment of standards and evaluation of the value. In a long term, Bank of China takes the management responsibility of foreign currency exchange. It is a commercial bank and also is a part of government. In that case, it shows strong administration tendency. One of main representations is the recruitment and deployment is under the unified management and distribution of its head office or regional branch’s human resources management department. The actual needs are poorly understood and valued more than diploma and the past experiences. However, foreign banks have their own recruitment of competent model for quality standards, according to the requirements of jobs analysis on-demand recruitment. They focus on candidates’ practical work capability and potential, more concerned whether candidates match with the organisation. There are survey shows that foreign banks in the recruitment process always use talent measurement tools and pay much attention to staffs’ personalities, especially the values of the match with organizations.

Third is the difference in the understanding strategic significance of training. Although Bank of China has its own training base and develop training programme, it was taken as the main function forms sticking to the “training books” and “classroom teaching ” model and following the “what is lacking and what will teach in school “practice. It only focused on the surface of the master work skills and ignored the staff own development and value-added value. The quality of the staff can not be matched with market demand. The former president of Chase Manhattan once said, Only by allowing banks to advance the personnel development to the business development, can more quickly adapt to the international financial markets and to develop. Under the guidance of such concept, during the training of the current work, these foreign banks also pay more attention to the quality of staff training and development potential. With each individual staff’s situation, training program also need be intent tailored and help them achieve career goals. In training, teaching experiments, simulations, the network learning, and other new educational methods are widely used. The difference over the foreign banks will be mainly due to the attitude to the people, that is, foreign banks take talents as a strategic and scarcity of resources and the ongoing effective staff training and development of competition in the international banking is an important component of the strategy and also is one of the most important strategic investment. Take Citigroup as an example, it establishes a special institution and equipped with full-time staff with responsibility for training. According to different posts and the personal characteristic of staff, they develop detailed training programme and take the appropriate incentive measures to promote and guarantee staff training. Citibank’s Shanghai branch, the per capita cost of training is more than 17,000 yuan and in the Bank of China, the training costs of Shanghai Branch per capita is less than 500 yuan. The main reason of this situation is they still take training as a cost Spending. On training and curriculum design is very arbitrary and even that on several occasions Dangke can also replace part of the training target.

Fourth is the difference in performance management and performance assessment. Performance Evaluation is the core of modern human resources management issue. It not only provides important information basis for the distribution and selection of personnel, but also is considered as a strong incentive for the staff (Michael, 2008). State-owned commercial banks as a financial enterprise, its operating profit maximization is their goal, thus human resources management should be subordinated to and serves this business objective. However, the state-owned commercial banks have not established a systematic, scientific and reasonable performance appraisal system. First, there are not distinguish between the different categories of staff posts in the evaluation, but they adopted the “moral character, ability, diligence, achievements,” these relatively abstract and difficult to quantify the indicators to evaluate. Even, they had not yet been standard analysis of jobs. It presents in there are no standard title to regulate all types of positions and no uniform standard job descriptions, so that the staff responsibilities of different positions is very fuzzy; Third, the evaluation index system in the absence of key performance indicators (KPI indicators), in particular, guard against and defuse financial risks has not yet fully reflected in the evaluation of specific indicators in the evaluation. In addition, the performance evaluation of the results did not become the direct indicator of employees’ pay and rewards, job changes and incentives. Performance evaluation is often a mere formality and away from the commercial banks operating objectives. As one of the state-owned Banks, Bank of China also got into this trap in a long time. They thought performance management is the regular staff evaluation that the bonuses were paid to staff and provide the basic references for promotion, that is, simply equate performance management with performance evaluation. Generally, appraisal objective was set by the bank unilaterally and the staffs can only passively accept. Therefore, it often for the evaluation and assessment ignored the real purpose of the examination, that is, raise the level of individual performance of staff. In addition, the unscientific assessment standards and methods and the ineffective implementation of the results of the evaluation made the performance appraisal could not play their due role. The cause of the gap is also the main reason for the management of Chinese banks, the strong bureaucracy and lack of the necessary lines of communication between management and staff. In the course of investigation, the author also learn that in three years ago, in one county branch of Bank of China, subsidiary manager of this branch submitted his resignation after this


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