Invest in people on the ground to secure ASEAN growth, says UOB exec

Invest in people on the ground to secure ASEAN growth, says UOB exec


Corporates investing in ASEAN should support the development of the region’s workforce to ensure sustainable growth, a leading banker has said.

Speaking to Asia House during our major conference – Asia Trade in the Global Order – in Hong Kong, Christine Ip, Chief Executive Officer for Greater China, United Overseas Bank (UOB), highlighted the importance of investing in ASEAN’s workforce to enable long-term growth.

“Globally, companies are facing challenges in hiring the right talent to ensure business development and sustainability. To help overcome this, companies should nurture their own local talents as a priority,” Mrs Ip said.

“For example, UOB has partnered the Foreign Trade University (FTU) in Vietnam to launch the local finance industry’s first UOB-FTU Banker’s Executive Certificate programme designed for small business bankers. We provide training – formal banking training – to the local bankers, because to ensure sustainability, you need to nurture local talents.

“We provide practical skills training in credit and risk management, international trade financing and regional regulatory frameworks. We also expose some of these talents to training and development programmes in other countries and at our headquarters in Singapore,” Mrs Ip added.

UOB, which has a presence in eight of ASEAN’s 10 member countries, also runs similar certification programmes for its small business bankers in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. This is part of the Bank’s efforts to nurture its people through continuous training and development and to ensure that they are equipped with the right skills, knowledge and mindset required to support the bank’s customers.

The bank also conducts regular mentoring programmes to support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the region.

“We offer mentoring programmes for SMEs – we bring these business owners together, we create forums for them where they can interact with other like-minded people, including our bankers. Business opportunities are created for them through these collaborations. We also incorporate training on digital technology such as cloud computing and data analytics into the programmes to help enable inclusive and sustainable growth for these companies,” Mrs Ip said.

To support customers in identifying and seizing business opportunities across ASEAN, in 2011 UOB set up its Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Advisory Unit. The Bank has since been building an ecosystem of partners, including government agencies, trade and investment associations and professional services providers such as legal, audit and accounting firms across the region, to help customers plan and execute their expansion across borders. The support includes providing customers with practical guidance on how to set up and to run their local operations successfully.

During the conference, Mrs Ip also took part in a panel discussion focusing on investment in ASEAN alongside HE Tran Quoc Khanh, Vice Minister for Industry and Trade, Vietnam; Carsten Hess, Vice President & Head of Corporate Public Policy, Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, DHL; and Dr Andrea Frenzel, President of the Regional Division South & East Asia, ASEAN and ANZ, BASF.

The session was moderated by Donald Kanak, Chairman, Eastspring Investments, who highlighted the importance of financial institutions such as UOB in driving economic growth in the region.