Financial firms make lousy employers

A Hewitt study of Asia''s best employers finds financial services performing below par.

Financial institutions like to talk about their commitment to nurturing talent but a new survey by Hewitt Associates in Hong Kong finds that the industry is a poor employer - no surprise to those used to banks' boom-bust nature of hiring and industry consolidation.

Hewitt has released the results of a regional survey of 305 companies in eight countries evaluating which are the best employers, judging them on ensuring stability amid a volatile economy, creating and delivering high performance with fewer resources, and retaining and developing high quality talent.

Financial service firms made up 9% of the total number of companies polled. But on average, only 6.6% of the top-ranked companies were from the finance industry. Moreover, in Hong Kong and Singapore, where financial companies comprised 18% of the local pool surveyed, only two firms - Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong and Citibank in Singapore - made the respective top-10 lists.

In fact of the top 75 employers ranked across the region, the only other names from financial services were Cathay Life Insurance, Development Bank of the Philippines and ING Life Insurance's Taiwan branch.

And worse, of Hewitt's overall top-20 employers in Asia, the only finance pick was Cathay Life, at number 11.

Hewitt found the best companies shared the following traits: a sharp focus and clarity that they communicated with employees; relentless development of talent; respecting employees by holding them accountable for results and recognizing their achievements; inspiring a passion for outstanding work; and creating a family-like environment.

Bankers hang out at swanky hotels but maybe they should pay more attention to how they are managed: the hospitality industry romped home, comprising only 8% of the total respondent base but securing six out of the top 20 slots, with Shanghai's Portman Ritz-Carlton and Singapore's Ritz-Carlton Millenia taking the top two positions.

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