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Staff poaching spurs bank action

Afternoon traffic passes an ANZ Royal Bank branch in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district in late March
Afternoon traffic passes an ANZ Royal Bank branch in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district in late March. Vireak Mai

Staff poaching spurs bank action

Cambodia's banking sector is looking to establish a collective fund to help recoup staff training expenses lost from competitors poaching employees off one another, Grant Knuckey, CEO of ANZ Royal said yesterday.

Speaking at the launch of ANZ Royal’s business confidence index in Phnom Penh yesterday, Knuckey, who is also the chairman of the education working group at the Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC), said to mitigate the losses of newly trained employees, the industry was proposing a joint fund in which poachers would have to contribute a percentage of the lost employees' salaries.

Payments into the fund would go towards an industry-wide training institute also being considered, he added.

“It is a big issue for the banking sector, probably for no company more than ANZ Royal,” Knuckey said. “Many have described us as basically the training school of the banking industry.”

Meanwhile, there are ongoing concerns over a shortage of skilled workers.

In 2013, Acleda Bank, the country’s largest, spent more than $4 million on employee training, a figure that is expected to rise to $5.3 million this year. On average, the bank spends upwards of $10,000 per staff member per year on additional training, In Channy, CEO of Acleda bank told the Post.

“It [the fund] is good. If new banks come and they want to recruit, they will need to deposit a certain amount into the fund, which will be to help training the whole industry. That’s the idea,” Channy said.

But the fund has not yet been given the green light. Fellow members of the ABC’s education working group Bun Mony, chairman of Cambodia Microfinance Association (CMA), and Charles Van, executive vice president of Canadia Bank, said a consensus on the amount banks will have to pay into the fund is far from being reached.

Canadia’s Van said the key purpose of the fund would be ensuring “best practice” among the industry.

“[But] we have still a long way to go before having this type of fund,” he said.

Upon reaching an agreement, approval from the industry’s regulator, the National Bank of Cambodia, would still need to be received, according to CMA’s Bun Mony.

“Poaching in the industry happens every day. [The fund] would be our way of encouraging capacity building across the finance sector. If companies decide to poach, they will have to pay a penalty,” Mony said.

Ahmed Faisal, IMF resident representative in Cambodia, said during yesterday’s ANZ conference that the shortage of skilled staff was not unique to Cambodia and collective funds were being tested in other developing economies.

“Different countries have tackled it. Some countries have created a training fund that all businesses participate in. When one leaves a particular agency, then that private agency gets reimbursed,” Faisal said.

“The government is also thinking about how to help address the skills shortage,” he added, citing the need for additional public resources and cooperation between the government and the private sector to tackle the issue.

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