Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Promotions few in financial sector

Promotions few in financial sector

Customers are assisted by Acleda employees at the bank’s largest branch in Phnom Penh in 2011
Customers are assisted by Acleda employees at the bank’s largest branch in Phnom Penh in 2011. VIREAK MAI

Promotions few in financial sector

In late 2009, two months after graduating with a degree in economics, Heng Piseth found a job as a credit officer with a microfinance institution in Kampong Thom province.

Nearly four years later, his responsibilities at the office are the same as when Piseth started: loan disbursement, loan collection and following up with clients whose payments are due.

“I see that the room to grow into a higher position gets narrower and narrower,” Piseth said. “The competition is tough.”

The story reflects a larger trend confronting young Cambodians entering the financial sector’s job market. While thousands graduate university and move into entry-level jobs, the upper rungs are becoming increasingly scarce.

There’s little room for the ambitious to emerge from a crowded playing field.

Grant Knuckey, CEO of ANZ Royal Bank, said the Cambodian banking sector has a significant “talent deficit”. He said there is simply not the capacity for the industry to absorb the drove of inexperienced employees and train them adequately.

“The market is in fact growing significantly, but the ability for individuals to get promoted may be more difficult than in the past because the competition is more intense as more people join the industry,” he said.

“This is a good thing for the banking sector, because it raises the overall calibre of employees. At ANZ Royal we always promote on merit rather than length of service, and it seems the industry overall is headed more in that direction.”

The dim promotion prospects aren’t scaring job hunters. According to Knuckey, some 4,000 new hires moved into the financial sector in 2012, and more than 1,500 of those chose to work in commercial banking.

As a result of growth, demand for junior staff is increasing. Virac Socheata, business operations manager at human resources consultant Great Alliance, said the numbers are going up by 30 to 35 per cent year on year.

This wasn’t always the case.

“In 2005, the potential staff was limited and opportunities large,” Socheata said. Now, however, “it is very challenging to catch a chance at middle-management or higher”.

According to a recent report from the Cambodian Microfinance Association, the number of employees who work at the 35 microfinance institutions and Cambodia’s biggest commercial bank, Acleda, was about 23,000 at the end of June, a 6.6 per cent increase from an estimated 21,700 at the end of December 2012.

Sim Senacheert, chief executive officer at Prasac, said it is hard to distinguish among fresh graduates coming out of university because skill levels are similar. At Prasac, applicants must go through a rigorous recruitment process, including a screening, writing test, interview and reference checks.

“There are many newly graduated students looking for jobs at the moment. It is a bit hard to recruit staff who have banking experience for high positions.” Senacheert said.

For openings, Prasac receives a deluge of applications, not all up to standard.

“I think that to get jobs, students should focus on the quality of their knowledge instead of just focusing on having the degree,” he added.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • PM: Do not defile Tonle Sap swamp forest or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered police to arrest anyone – including government officials – involved with the deforestation of the flooded forests surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake because it is an area important to the spawning of many species of fish, among other reasons. Speaking in a