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Growing NBFC Sector in APAC: Understand Challenges and Opportunities from Jindra Hachova at Home Credit India

June 27, 2017

As in comparison to the established financial institutions in the APAC, NBFCs are relatively new entrants in the sector and hence are not seen as an employer of choice by jobseekers, especially those at the lower management and staff levels. Also the challenge for NBFCs in these times of uncertainty will be to stay competitive while matching the market salary levels, and not overstretching them for hiring talented experienced professionals.

In view of these challenges and tapping on new opportunities, we at HR in Asia draw upon insights in an exclusive conversation from Ms. Jindra Hachova, Chief HR Officer, Home Credit India recognised as India Aon Best Employer 2017. Read on…

  • What are the talent acquisition challenges faced by the NBFC sector in Asia Pacific? Do you see talent-skill mismatch gaps? If yes, what measures do you suggest will work for talent development in this sector?

The Asia Pacific (APAC) region encompasses a complex mix of diverse cultures across both mature and emerging markets. This diversity is reflected not only in varied consumer behaviours but also in the quality and quantity of talent pool across different markets in the region.

According to a global study by the FutureStep, a division of global people and organizational advisory firm Korn Ferry, factors like rapid business growth, changing expectations of job applicants, and shortage of qualified professionals will create intense competition for talent across industries in APAC during 2017. We at Home Credit Group perceive the competition for talent already exists in the region, and not just in India.

Ms. Jindra Hachova, Chief HR Officer, Home Credit India

Ms. Jindra Hachova, Chief HR Officer, Home Credit India

As one of the NBFCs, Home Credit Group has been an integral part of the financial services sector in the APAC region for over five years. We are currently present in India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines and also in China. As non-banking lending company we practice financial inclusion by complementing the banking sector in expanding access to small loans for unbanked segments of population, thus opening for them a window of opportunity to enhance their life.

From the perspective of human capital, NBFCs have their challenges while hiring quality talent.  Firstly, compared to banks, NBFCs are relatively new entrants into financial services in the APAC region and are not seen as an employer of choice by majority of job seekers, especially at lower management and staff levels.

For both experienced professionals and recruits seeking to gain a foothold in financial services, banks are the preferred first option. Also, the skillset for selling a loan for consumer durables at the supermarkets is rather overlapping with the one required for sale of a tangible commodity.  At Home Credit, we need thousands of talented, “financial literate” sales persons. As a result, our recruitment professionals are constantly grappling with issues of attracting quality talent and retaining them.

Another key challenge relates to managing the expectations and aspirations of a multi-generational workforce. While compensation and benefits continue to be important criteria, there is a growing emphasis among applicants towards company culture and career progression. Finding the right sourcing channels and adoption and utilisation of latest technologies are some other key issues that HR professionals in NBFCs face currently.

Apart from cyclical macro-economic development, financial service industry is facing global challenges of new technologies, tougher regulation and shifting customer expectations. Fintech companies pulling up millennials off traditional banks compete with trendy, often shared-economy driven offers. Survival and success of any bank or NBFC in this rapidly changing financial services environment requires a workforce that is committed, creative, digitally-savvy and ready to adapt quickly to constant change.

Having said that, HR professionals in financial services in particular, need to pay attention to the right mix of matured staffers and new graduates to make sure corporate know-how, expertise, culture or “corporate memory” is refreshed and further cultivated.

The skillsets required for highly specialised domains like risk management, compliance, collections and others are sometimes very difficult to find locally as fresh graduates tend to look for job where they have studied, especially in the matured markets and very often off-shore. The pool of these professionals is thus limited and financial companies like Home Credit recruits expats to fill in the gaps and bringin global best practices. Obviously the situation differs across markets in APAC.

One of the most effective ways to address skills shortage and enhance talent development is to invest in regular in-house employee training programs. At Home Credit India, every month we organize a range of training programs on developing soft skills like time management and multi-tasking, stress management, etc together with basic MS Office applications such as Excel, Powerpoint. We also have an exciting rewards and recognition program for both individual and team contributions.

  • What will be the hiring trends for the NBFC sector this year?

The growth prospects of the NBFC sector are closely linked with the overall growth in the financial services and fin-tech industry, especially in emerging markets in APAC. Although we expect the demand for financial services professionals to remain strong across the region, driven primarily by evolving customer expectations and constantly increasing financial inclusion, adoption of digital technologies may push this rising trend backwards.

At Home Credit India, a paper-less fully digitized process of applying for loans, face recognition software combined with big data utilization stipulates unparalleled growth in sales that does not require comparable growth in labour force.

Keeping in view the above factors, some of the major recruitment trends in the NBFC industry in 2017 will be:

Machine learning: Machine learning is the next big issue for HR that helps NFBCs hire faster with more efficiency. Besides utilising available data for analysing the profile of potential candidates, machine learning utilises big data for predicting and evaluating success patterns prior to hiring a candidate.

Big data for learning and development: With NBFCs becoming increasingly data-driven, there is growing realisation on the advantages of big data in employee learning.  Big data helps trainers identify effective training methods to benefit the employees’ learning. It also eliminates infructuous training procedures and provides real-time analytics to highlight the training programs that bear positive results.

People with expertise in analysing big data will have significantly higher growth opportunities than their peers who may not have data analytic skillsets.

Rise of FinTech: Over the last few years, Fintech companies have been gaining traction as they are targeting to offer easy-to-access financial services, bringing them on to digital gadgets which more and more people have in their pocket. As a result, if you use Home Credit as an example, NBFCs strive to rapidly develop their online platforms combining them with their core offline strengths.

Recruitment therefore will focus on flexible, creative and ready to socialize professionals who are keen and able to collaborate, partner, and get inspired across industries and markets in order to implement innovative solutions for shifting consumer expectations and changing behaviour.

Digitising employer branding strategy: The millennial talent is well-aware of their expertise and prefers choosing employers, just like they are chosen by employers. To provide this talent pool with an outstanding hiring experience, NBFCs are digitalising their employer branding by employing mobile technologies for communication across regions, countries and continents.

Simultaneously, NBFCs are increasingly utilising social media as a crucial tool for targeting the deserving talents both in a country and globally.

Niche roles: In any industry, there is always a premium to jobs and functions that require highly specialized skillsets. While frontline customer care, collections and sales positions will continue to witness recruitment of fresh entrants, the roles in functions such as risk management, pricing strategies and similar will see high demand for candidates with already proven, specialized skillsets.

For these and many other qualified roles, the challenge for NBFCs will be to stay competitive while matching the market salary levels, not overstretching them.

See: Singapore Companies Might Face Tough Time Engaging and Retaining Talent in 2017

  • What will be the future hiring outlook for this sector – touching upon skills on-demand, evolving new job roles, human involvement displaced by AI and new working models adopted by the sector in Asia?

Economic activity in any region or industry globally has direct impact on the employment market. According to IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook for Asia Pacific released last month, the APAC region continues to witness robust growth – the strongest in the world, in fact.

However, the near-term outlook is clouded with significant uncertainty. On the upside, growth momentum remains strong, particularly in advanced economies and in Asia. Going by the forecast, players in the financial services sector in both developing and developed economies of the region are cautiously optimistic on their hiring plans.

With regulatory environment in almost all economies of APAC becoming stringent, demand for compliance professionals will remain strong. Also, any role under the corporate governance umbrella is in high demand currently. Internal auditors in areas such as IT, trade, transactions, and risk are sought, as are product controllers and regulatory reporting professionals.

Also, functions that require deployment of digital and online technologies will be on further rise. Organisations across the financial services spectrum will recruit hiring specialists with skillsets in big data, fin-tech and cyber-security.

As more and more businesses experience the benefits of going digital, banks and NBFCs will continue to set up in-house digital marketing teams and lot of social media specialists will be added to the existing customers’ contact centers. Financial technologies that are getting deployed will require higher technical skills of internal staff. Routine jobs will be replaced by technology. This would mean higher qualification and subject matter expert roles will become most important to stay competitive.

  • What are some of the best HR practices followed at Home Credit India to deal with the talent shortage, facilitate talent retention of key performers and ensure that the workforce is highly engaged on jobs?

Home Credit is not only a responsible lender but also an equal opportunity employer that offers long-term and stable employment opportunities, supports professional development of employees, and creates an open, friendly and cooperative working environment that helps in developing mutual respect among employees.

Home Credit India’s development objectives focus on enabling growth and performance of its employees and the organisation by creating a culture of learning that drives values, actions and practices supporting Home Credit India’s vision.

With our business model undergoing some changes, the emphasis is on quality of implementation of processes as well on improving and developing skillsets of existing employees. This is done through various initiatives such as providing customised training programs for top 30 percent of performers as well as multiskilling programs for front-line staff. This mostly comprises of call centre agents from customer care and collections.

We also organise regular monthly and quarterly activities focused around the six pillars of structured employee engagement concept. These pillars include employee connect, employee welfare, rewards and recognition, cross functional platforms, HC Cares, and events. Some of these initiatives include fun@work, Open house updates, employee volunteering, health supporting programs etc.

  • What is penetration of tapping into new technologies and embracing digital in process workings at Home Credit India?

At Home Credit India, it has been our endeavour to keep pace with the latest technologies and adopt them to make our processes customer and employee friendly, accessible and easy to use. We have recently implemented SAP’s ERP system for automating basic processes in financial management, procurement, and human resources. Another technology-driven initiative relates to providing employees and managers access to self-service systems.

Through the employee self-service system, the staff not only can access information relating to their payslips, leave quota etc, but also make changes to personal data relating to address, marital status, and other related things. For managers, the self-service system enables them to approve their subordinates work related actions. For example, if an employee has been promoted, then his manager can make changes relating to designation, salary etc through this system.

In our efforts towards becoming a Fintech organisation and engaging with customers closely by providing access on-the-go, Home Credit India also launched a mobile app. The app provides customers with a one-stop view of loan details, repayment schedule, and information on amount due and payment date of loans.

With an intuitive design and user-friendly interface based on latest mobile payments technology, the app makes loan repayment convenient and faster for customers. Through the app, customers also have the flexibility to either repay loan completely or in small instalments.

  • How important is employer branding to attract best talents? What are the best practices followed at Home Credit India to be recognised as 2017 India Aon Best Employer?

In today’s fiercely competitive job market, establishing and maintaining a consistent employer brand is a crucial tool for attracting and retaining the right kind of talent in the long term. An effective employer brand presents an organisation as a good employer to potential recruits and also as a great place to work.

Employer branding affects every touch point of the organisation has with the employee, beginning with the recruitment and on-boarding process, going on to training and development, development of career pathways, benefits and incentives, right through to their exit from the organisation and beyond.

For 2017 India Aon Best Employer recognition, Home Credit India was assessed on four parameters of engagement, leadership, performance culture, and employer brand. This award is a validation of our efforts in providing a culturally inclusive and growth-oriented culture. We believe in empowering employees who are motivated and attracted by the role, and not just by designations.

Towards this, we have a range of engaging learning and development programs for employees across all levels that equips them with skills and knowledge to grow further. To identify high-potential talent and groom them as future leaders, we have a Senior Odyssey Program. This is aimed at employees who are two levels below CEO and are able to assume senior business roles. The program consists of five modules spread over a year.

Towards the end of the program, the participants present an innovation idea to group management team. For first time managers who have the potential to move to the next level of management, there is an equally competitive Junior Odyssey Program focused on enhancing their performance.

Besides these initiatives, we also provide opportunities for the leaders in top, middle and senior management to opt for development courses in line with agreed individual development plans. Under this, the employees can opt for courses that can help them get a better understanding of leadership, managerial, personal effectiveness or technical subjects.

Also read: No Impact of Economic Slowdown Felt on Hiring Activity in Technology and Finance Sectors in Asia

Content rights: This exclusive interview content is produced by HR in ASIA. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in this interview is prohibited. You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content.

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