What all is needed for a successful career in banking KATHMANDU, Feb 25: Finance industry is one of the most sought after career paths all over the world and aspirants often do not have proper guidance regarding where and how to get started. Three of Nepal’s leading bankers share their experiences and suggest business students on how they can shape their career in this field.
Ashoke SJB Rana
CEO, Himalayan Bank Limited
“Finance industry has a lot of scope in Nepal but for somebody planning to work abroad, it is not feasible due to recession. There are a lot of restrictions,” he says. What Rana has noticed is that a lot of business students here have no all-round education, they lack financial skills. “Whenever we hire young graduates, it takes almost TWO years for them to become useful to us,” he adds.
There are a lot of aspects in the banking sector which requires manpower with various educational backgrounds from Operations, credits to IT. According to Rana, a lot of banks are successful from Operations and suggests that baking aspirants first get into that and then move to credits.
A lot of banks in the West go to universities, talk to professors and recruit from there. The banks hire students in their senior year as interns but it is not practiced here, recruitment is not transparent. The trend of preferential opportunities is rampant and the question is how outstanding students get noticed.
“We tend to hire applicants who are quite persistent; they leave their CVs and follow up with HR. It tells you that they are interested and they easily come to attention,” says Rana.
Talking about the finance industry and his job, Rana believes that banks have great power, especially with the growth of small scale businesses with microfinance and in private sectors. He says, “It tells you a lot about the country’s situation, how challenging the economic environment is. With broad economic activity, there are a lot of aspects you have to look into.”
For aspiring bankers, he says it is much easier to work in the 2nd level management because then you have certain responsibilities. “But when you move from being a specialist to a generalist, you have all sorts of areas to take care of whether it is dealing with HR issues, revenue targets or financial risks. You can’t get away with it,” he said when asked what his post demands.
Raveena Des Raj Shrestha
Chief of Consumer Banking and Corporate Affairs, Mega Bank Nepal Limited
Raveena Des Raj Shrestha started her career in banking as a Trainee Assistant in ANZ Grindlays Bank at Standard Chartered and worked there for 13 years. Then, she headed the Consumer Lending department at Nabil Bank for over six years and has been with Mega Bank since its inception three years ago.
“Finance forms a very integral part of an organized society and therefore, this industry will always have prospects. In the national context, banking is still viewed as a secure and stable profession but the most important thing is an individual’s interest in what this profession entails or any profession for that matter,” says Shrestha who has been involved with banking for over 22 years now.
She suggests that aspirants, other than qualification, find out their core strengths and get dedicated to a department or function. She says, “Banking maybe about numbers eventually but there are various departments that comprise a bank.”
Business students planning on taking up this career should be prepared to put in long hours to learn the technical aspects of banking and continue to work with the understanding that there really are no shortcuts to anything.
“As a banker one must be prepared to dedicate oneself completely to very demanding and sometimes quite challenging times given the pace at which one needs to work so the challenge to keep one’s head about you and maintain one’s balance lest you burn out is a huge challenge because after all, this is the business of money and money can be a very tricky business,” adds Shrestha.
CEO, Laxmi Bank Limited
Suman Joshi worked with ANZ Grindlays Bank for 11 years and moved up through ranks and gained varied exposure to different aspects of banking.
He also worked for ANZ Grindlays, India from its office in Nepal, Kumari Bank and Bank of Kathmandu . He has been heading Laxmi Bank since its inception in 2002.
Joshi’s job entails taking a lot of decisions many of which have far reaching connotations. “And they say it’s lonely at the top,” he adds. A CEO needs to listen to many people, take many factors into account before making decisions. He relies on inputs from his colleagues, information at hand and most of all his own experience while making decisions. More often than not, his most important job is to make sure that his colleagues are appropriately resourced to manage various areas of the bank. He says, “You’re only as good as your team is and I’m proud to have a very good one.”
“The country’s economy is at a juncture where Nepali banking landscape is beginning to change in favor of consolidation. Apart from challenges posed by lack of economic growth, a big concern now is that of increasing operational risk due to a number of factors including quality of human resource,” says Joshi, adding, “What’s positive though is that there’s growing awareness of this challenge and banks are taking steps to address it. As for the scope of banking sector, it remains huge. Our financial system is still far from being sophisticated and it will evolve tremendously if supported by economic growth. Also, this sector is transparent and largely professionally driven. A performing manager will continue to find job security and financial stability in this sector.”
According to Joshi, aspiring bankers should be honest and committed to their jobs because consistently good performers experience a rewarding career in a bank. However, he has noticed that there’s a tendency to jump ship and take on higher positions in different banks without actually gaining enough experience and knowledge. This trend is largely responsible for increasing operational risk banks are exposed to today. It is important to build a sound base of knowledge, experience and credibility to secure a good career.
“A lot of common sense, hard work and focus on being fundamentally strong in your chosen field are required. Please do not try to fast-track your career without necessary skills and knowledge,” suggests Joshi who has been working in this field for 23 years now.