8/7/97 Millennium plan for bank of first choice
|Sunday, August 31,1997
The Sunday Times, Page 6
Millennium plan for bank of first choice
The vision is to be the bank of first choice for Singaporeans. The mission is to promote saving and meet the banking needs of its customers by providing convenient and excellent service.
The bank's service culture must be backed up by the effective use of information technology. "We must provide a multi-delivery system, leveraging on our wide network," says chairman Moses Lee.
It will introduce Internet banking to the growing segment of the population which is plugged in with personal computers at home.
But the telephone remains the most ubiquitous, inexpensive and highly user-friendly delivery service. The bank is looking at the Smart Phone, which is a telephone that comes with a digital display window and a smart card reader.
The customer can use the telephone to top up his smart card- or electronic purse- or make other transactions.
Mr Dileep Nair, 47, deputy CEO who will take over the helm when Mr Bertie Cheng, who has been the bank's CEO for the last 23 years, retires this week, says: "POSBank is in a umque position, as a statutory board.
"It has a duty to be at the leading edge of retail banking. It is necessary if Singapore wants to become a world-class financial centre that POSBank be the catalyst for the growth of all banks here."
Promoting thrift as a value ties in with the country's core values, he says.
"POSBank must be a sort of anchor for the Singaporean, right from the time of his birth. It must be a bedrock institution that gives people some sense of what is lasting and secure."
POSBank Girls have the numbers at every branch
Some 42 per cent of the staff have worked with the bank for 10 years or more, 60 per cent more than five years. Some 82 per cent of the staff are female.
The public face of the bank is female- that of the POSBank Girl. She is in almost every one of the branches, at the counter if she is a teller, or at a desk behind the counter if she is the officer-in-charge (OC).
In the 1984 annual report of the POSB, chairman Tan Chok Kian described the POSBank Girls as the bank's most valued asset, apart from the management team.
The minimum qualification needed to be a teller is three O-level passes, or anInstitute of Technical Education certificate. The tellers are picked based on their personality, their numbersand-words recognition skills and their attitude.
When an applicant is selected, she undergoes a month-long training programme which includes classroom sessions in a simulated setting in the bank's training centre in Newton Road, as well as on-thejob counter-service induction. She also attends classes on deportment, make-up, personal hygiene and customer service.
The bank encourages its people to continue to upgrade their skills so that they can rise up the ranks, and many do.
Ms Kang Yiak Sher, 35, OC of the Ghim Moh branch, is one such self-starter. Twelve years after she joined the bank she took a business administration diploma course at the Singapore Polytechnic. It was a four-year dual-training course, which allowed her to work part of the week and attend classes on the other days. The bank sponsored her.
After obtaining her diploma, she took an external degree course in business administration from Ottawa University. She has just obtained her degree, after 18 months of self-study.
Because of the tight labour market, and to provide an avenue of employment for its former tellers who had retired or resigned to take care of their families, the bank introduced a part-time teller scheme in May 1989.
There are 140 part-timers in the scheme, with at least one in every branch. These part-timers are housewives with children at school, or others who have decided to
work only a few hours a day for reasons of their own.
These part-timers augment the full-time staff during peak hours. They work flexi-hours, on average about 20 hours a week. Posted to branches nearest their homes, they generally work four hours a day, four days a week.
A question that needs to be addressed is: With the increasing use of information technology, will there come a time when there is no longer a need for POSBank girls?
No, assures chairman Moses Lee. The service will become depersonalised when machines are expected to do everything.
Deputy CEO Dileep Nair envisions the bank going beyond promoting saving, to helping customers manage their money as well. The POSBank Girl will be there to do that.