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Banks complain they cannot find mid-level managers   2010-09-10 - Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon

More and more commercial banks have been established in Vietnam in recent years, which has led to a short supply of staff.  Commercial banks all complain that they have difficulty finding qualified staff, especially mid-level managers.


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A small bank plans to open two new branches in October. Everything has been prepared for the event, except one thing. The bank’s director still does not know who will be appointed the head and deputy head of each branch.  He is unable to decide whether he should choose new officers from outside the bank or employees currently working at the bank.


The small bank’s problem is a problem shared with many other banks.


In fact, this bank opened many new branches recently and the director placed many young employees as the heads and deputy heads of the new branches. However, he now worries about his decision.


“Most of the appointed heads are very young, 25 or 26 years old. They are qualified and dynamic. However, they do not have enough management experience, so branch operations have not been very good,” the director said.


In fact, the bank can use services provided by recruiting agencies, but the director does not want to go this route. “If we recruit managers through head hunting agencies, we will have to offer very high salaries to compete with other banks,” he said.  Besides, he thinks that it will always take new staff some time to adapt to the working environment at the bank.


“It is very difficult nowadays to find staff, but it will be even more difficult to retain staff,” the director of another bank said.


He related that he once recruited a capable deputy head for the credit division. He intended to turn the deputy head into a key person at the bank, so he decided to send him abroad to attend a three-year training course. However, after three years, the deputy head returned to Vietnam and decided to leave the bank and repay the training course fee. The director later realized that a competing bank paid the training course fee in order to lure the deputy head.


The bank’s director added that since there are not many qualified top and mid-level bank employees, many banks now have to contact headhunting agencies to ask them to help seek qualified staff.


On official job recruiting websites like, one can find a good deal of information about staff recruitment at banks.  Eximbank is now seeking a deputy head for a branch, Seabank needs a head for a branch, Vietnam-Thailand joint venture bank is looking for a head of a branch, and Lien Viet is seeking a deputy director in charge of strategy and international cooperation.


A lot of other banks are also searching for qualified mid-level managers through different channels. However, the most popular way to seek staff is to use a headhunting agency.


According to Le Thi Thuy Loan, General Director of Loan Le Human Resources Company, banks have been mostly seeking candidates for branch head positions. “The demand for staff in the banking sector has been increasing sharply in recent years, because more and more banks have been established, while operational banks have set up new branches.” she said. “However, the supply of qualified staff is not abundant, especially for mid-level staff.”


Loan said that many people applied for the posts, but they could not get through the interview round. Meanwhile, qualified candidates required overly high salaries.


“I know a candidate who applied for the post of the head of a division and required $5000 a month. Though he had superb qualifications and experience, I believe very few banks could afford such a high salary,” she said.


Loan went on to say that the lack of midlevel staff has pushed “prices” for the labor force up. “Nowadays people change their jobs so regularly. Many people have jobs now, but they still register jobs at Loan Le. If they can find better jobs, they give up their current jobs immediately,” she said.


Le Tham Duong, Dean of the Business Faculty under the HCM City Banking University, also complains that big universities nowadays find it hard to retain lecturers. “A lot of lecturers have given up teaching to become bank officers because banks will pay them higher salaries to lure them,” Duong said.

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