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National Model Workers Talk about Bank of China Spirit at Xinhuanet


Recently, two National Model Workers, Mr. Yan Hua, the President of Sanya Sub-Branch of Bank of China's Hainan Branch, and Mr. Fu Lianye, the Office Director of Bank of China's Henan Branch, were invited to a Xinhuanet talk show, where they explained the Bank of China spirit.

Here is the transcript of the show:

[Host] Welcome to the Xinhuanet Interview. As a century-old brand in China's financial industry, Bank of China has been known for its pioneering spirit, which is a result of the tireless efforts of its staff. Today, we are very pleased to have with us this year's National Model Workers - Mr. Yan Hua, President of the Sanya Sub-Branch of Bank of China's Hainan Branch, and Mr. Fu Lianye, Office Director of Bank of China's Henan Branch. Welcome, gentlemen.

[Yan Hua] Hello, guys.

[Fu Lianye] Hello, everybody.

[Host] As National Model Workers, what impressed you the most during your work at local financial institutions?

[Yan Hua] Working at the grassroots level, especially that of Bank of China, my strongest impression is that, along with my colleagues, I am able to do some concrete things for the development of Bank of China.

[Fu Lianye] Bank of China has clear strategies for its development. At a local outlet, our task is to follow the instruction of head office, lead our staff in implementing all the policies and do well in every aspect at the fundamental level.

[Host] Being named National Model Worker is not only a personal honor, but also a recognition of Bank of China as a whole. What do you think of such an accolade?

[Yan Hua] On a personal level, to be elected as a National Model Worker is both a great honor and a strong encouragement. It also brings heavy responsibilities. This award is the result of the joint efforts of my whole team. I owe it to both my team and Bank of China. I feel a larger responsibility after receiving such an honor, and I would provide better services to locals.

[Host] I believe banking is a demanding job that requires patience and details. It tolerates no error.

[Yan Hua] Exactly. There're three "unquestionables" in the industry -- unquestionable account books, unquestionable calculation and unquestionable regulation. So you can see the standards are indeed very strict. But I think banking is similar to other jobs in that it also requires sacrifice and the difference only lies in the fact that banking is a form of financial services. As presidents of local branches, we are responsible for our country, shareholders, employees, and customers, so there is enormous pressure. For more than a decade, I've been dedicating myself to fulfilling those responsibilities in a humble and practical manner.

[Host] How is your weekly schedule arranged?

[Yan Hua] Our major responsibilities include business expansion, visiting and marketing among customers, holding meetings within the branch to ensure good performance in management, team building, training and experience exchanges. Sometimes we also have business activities on Saturdays or Sundays.

[Host] Mr. Fu, what about you?

[Fu Lianye] Frankly speaking, this honor belongs more to Bank of China and my colleagues and staff at the branch than to myself. And it reminds us to try our best to meet all the expectations. I began working at a local branch in 1990, and have been able to find immense satisfaction from solving major problems in my work despite all the pressure.

[Fu Lianye] I came to work at the Bank of China's Zhengzhou Branch in 1990, so now I have 16 years of grassroots work experience. By working at this level and especially through the implementation of the guiding principles of both the head office and the branches, my team has achieved a common perspective about its work. And we would feel much gratification when we did a good job.

[Host] I assume there must be a spirit supporting you as you both excelled in your work, namely the "the Bank of China spirit". Could you tell us your idea about this spirit?

[Yan Hua] Established in 1912, Bank of China is the oldest bank in China. During its long history, Bank of China has made indelible contributions to China's economic development. What I feel most keenly about the Bank of China spirit is that it is, first of all, about patriotism. Bank of China, as China's first bank, played a significant role in China's pursuit of independence, and later in the cause of socialist construction after 1949. So patriotism is a very prominent part of the Bank of China spirit.

[Fu Lianye] Bank of China is not only one of the largest domestic commercial banks, but also the most internationalized bank in China. So the Bank of China spirit combines both patriotism and internationalism. As a prestigious century-old bank, Bank of China boasts a long history of glorious achievements, which makes social responsibility a vital part of the Bank of China spirit. That is to say, Bank of China must contribute to China's economic and social development. Bank of China always regards "responsibility" as a crucial part of our spirit to uphold and carry forward.

[Host] How do you spread the Bank of China spirit to every employee at the frontline, so that they can apply it to their work?

[Yan Hua] That is a very good question. Take Sanya Sub-Branch as an example. The outlet is located in the southernmost part of China, has more than 200 employees and about RMB 1.5 billion of assets and RMB 200 million of annual net profit. Although the outlet is just one regular second tier branch, I view it as part of China's economy, because finance is the blood of the economy and must support local economic development and, in a broader sense, help make our country better. So at the grassroots level, how can we best harness the resources of more than 200 people to fully perform our financial duties and promote the economic development of Sanya? I think it relies mainly on the joint effort from my colleagues to create a viable corporate culture. Bank of China has a powerful corporate culture focusing on "integrity, performance, responsibility, innovation, and harmony". Guided by this culture, we have given high priority to building this branch into a close-knit, hard-working, progressive and truly competent team.

[Host] Mr. Fu, you have managed at the frontline for a long time; what can you share with us about tapping into the potential of an employee?

[Fu Lianye] I believe people are the most crucial factor to any endeavor, irrespective of time or place. Hence, if we want to do a good job, or follow the Bank of China spirit, we must approach every task with pragmatism. Additionally, we must think carefully about how to motivate our leaders and employees alike. Otherwise, all our policies and measures will just be hot air. In particular, we should respect our employees and give them a sense of belonging at work. We have talked about retaining our human resources through appealing career prospects and compensation package. The core of all these is for our employees to feel part of the Bank of China family whose fate lies squarely in their hands. Over the past few years, this philosophy has been recognized at all levels of Bank of China.

[Host] You just mentioned protecting employees' interests so that they will feel comfortable and reassured about their jobs. This is actually also a sign of people-oriented management. Are there any quantitative assessment indicators to show what kind of job the employee is fit for, for example, serving the customer at the counter or expanding the bank's customer network?

[Yan Hua] Manpower is the foremost productive force. From the head office to branches at all levels, Bank of China attaches great importance to human resources. The Sanya Sub-Branch has vowed to be an outlet that satisfies our customers, our government, and our staff. Therefore, we highly value our employees' satisfaction, and have even made it one of our most important goals. Providing the staff with a solid platform for their career development is an imperative for any enterprise. How to realize the full potential of the staff is no less than a science.

[Fu Lianye] Bank of China has provided its employees with such a platform, and how to make full use of its advantages rests more on employees themselves. From our work experience at the frontline, Bank of China has a very sound performance appraisal system.

[Host] Probably because of its long history and extensive experience, Bank of China has built a balanced and effective performance appraisal system.

[Fu Lianye] Yes, as long as you do well, you would get everyone's recognition.

[Host] And you won't be overly rewarded or excessively punished.

[Fu Lianye] I believe that through this appraisal system, the performance of a staff member can be accurately quantified.

[Yan Hua] Now almost every institution or industry has its own performance appraisal system. The different is that Bank of China focuses more on human values. For example, we try to retain our employees through emotional appeal and training, both unique to Bank of China. In my opinion, emotional appeal or training, we should always pay close attention to the personal development of our employees, which I can't stress enough.

[Host] Actually, it is not merely individuals that can realize their career potential at Bank of China, I think corporate culture is also widely recognized there. You just mentioned nurturing a team culture; how do you fit enhancing team cohesion and building a corporate culture into your already hectic work schedule at the local branch?

[Yan Hua] The key to building a competent team is to properly motivate team members. To that end, we need a common goal, or a shared vision. This thinking has played a highly positive role in our work, and we count our vibrant corporate culture among the reasons for our excellent business performance.

[Fu Lianye] We used to make many provisions in the past, yet through the power of corporate culture, our management has evolved to a much higher and advanced level. Over recent years, there is a palpable attention to work on this front from the head office down to provincial branches. Virtues like integrity, pursuit of excellence and team spirit will be passed on from one generation to another once our culture is entrenched. This is also an intense reflection of the Bank of China spirit.

[Fu Lianye] For a harmonious enterprise, the top priority is to put people first, which means building a harmonious culture by motivating and respecting all the members of the enterprise. For instance, by signing multi-year labor contracts, both the bank and its employees have corresponding rights and obligations, which shall enable our employees to realize their own values in their daily work.

[Host]Does the branch organize cultural or sporting activities to enhance cohesion among employees?

[Yan Hua] Quite a lot.

[Host] But you just said that grassroots work is quite hectic. How do you find time for such activities?

[Yan Hua] The Sanya Sub-Branch has eight clubs, including badminton, basketball, mountain climbing, and cultural clubs, among others. Banks also have days off. It's just that we have them in rotations. So some activities do not have to be held on Saturdays or Sundays. For instance, basketball and badminton are played at a fixed time in the evening for the convenience of our employees.

[Fu Lianye] Someone has to be behind the counter in open hours. This requires the staff to make good use of their free time and learn about each other through cultural activities.

[Host] Based on what you have said, I believe Bank of China's employees are very happy. Since Sanya is a famous tourist destination, how does Bank of China support the tourism industry in this city?

[Yan Hua] In recent years we have set a goal for ourselves: to make the sub branch the most profitable and best funded outlet that wins the satisfaction from our customers, the government and our staff. Thanks to the rapid economic growth in Sanya in the past few years, our outlet has also seen remarkable growth. Meanwhile, to fulfill our responsibilities, we have also given some support to Sanya's economic development. Many large projects in Sanya, such as construction of roads, infrastructure, and high-end hotels, have received our support. The Bank of China's Sanya Sub-Branch has loaned more than RMB 3 billion since last year, while providing individuals with the best banking service. Bank of China already has 15 outlets in Sanya, three of which were set up this year, making Bank of China one of the most accessible in Sanya. Moreover, all our 15 outlets have gone through standardized decorations to provide our customers with a delightful service environment.

[Yan Hua] For service, we advocate civility and quality. Since Sanya is a tourist attraction and the financial service is part of what this city is supposed to offer, we are always ready to contribute to Sanya's tourism through our services. At the outlet, we frequently call on our employees to encourage our customers to jointly enhance Sanya's service performance through Bank of China's civilized services. If each of our 200 employees can inspire 10 customers in that way, then we believe the overall service performance of Sanya will improve as a result.

[Host] Recently, new provisions for loans announced by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), collectively referred to as "Three Sets of Measures and One Set of Guidelines", are being implemented across banks. Does that mean some small and medium enterprises (SMEs) may be a little uncertain about their loaning prospects?

[Fu Lianye] Recent years have witnessed the excellent performance of the Bank of China's Henan Branch in lending to SMEs. It may be thought that, after the implementation of new regulations, loans will be harder to get due to stricter management. However, the core of "Three Sets of Measures and One Set of Guidelines" is all about how we can better manage banks' funds, make good use of our funds, and probably most significantly, restructure our economy and transform the model of economic growth by means of adjusting credit regulations.

[[Fu Lianye] In the past, our loans to some enterprises, fixed asset loans for instance, would be fully advanced upon the approval. But fixed assets entail a gradual process of expenditure by the loan-receiving enterprise. The bank stands to gain more if the loan is fully delivered in one transaction. However, according to the new lending rules and in order to better ensure the safety of bank funds, we now issue loans to enterprises only by installments, which actually reduces the financial cost for them. I think the key issue of "Three Sets of Measures and One Set of Guidelines" is exactly to transform the economic growth mode from an extensive one to an intensive one, and sensibly adjust the whole economic structure via changes in credit regulations. This process will be a gradual and complex one and we should not apply a universal criterion to it.

[Host] How is the feedback from your customers?

[Yan Hua] Loans to SMEs have always been an integral part of Bank of China's business, and Sanya is no exception. In this tourism city, there are plenty of SME customers. We vigorously support SME loans such as personal investment and business loans, as well as tourism loans for small or medium hotels. To meet the requirements of our head office, we have made great effort to improve our efficiency and service performance, and the feedback from our customers is fairly positive.

[Host] We have been talking about things inside the bank and China. In fact, Bank of China has been ranked among the World's Top 500 enterprises for many years. So what's the secret to the reliable business performance and an excellent international reputation?

[Fu Lianye] As China's most internationalized bank, Bank of China has been among the World's Top 500 enterprises for 21 consecutive years, So the bank represents far more than just a bank. We have made astonishing progress along with China's reform and opening up, especially after the bank's joint-stock reform in last few years. Since a three-year development strategy was outlined by the bank's head office last year, our entire business has been growing even faster.

[Yan Hua] A sound mechanism is critical to the development of an enterprise. After its joint-stock reform, Bank of China aims at becoming a top international bank while building a mechanism for relatively fast and efficient decision-making, effective internal management and, more importantly, personnel training. All of the above are at the heart of the steady, fast and healthy development of our business in recent years.

[Host] We were just talking about the cultivation of talents and realization of personal values. Nowadays, many college graduates are spoilt for choice in the job market, while some find it difficult to find a job due to their high expectation and poor abilities, any suggestions on this problem?

[Yan Hua] From personal experience, I believe guidance is necessary for college graduates to adjust to the wider society. Since intense competition in all fields is part and parcel of the market economy, graduation is the beginning of a new journey in the life-long learning process. So here is my advice to my young friends: first, they should try their best to do their jobs well, whether they like them or not, and broaden their horizons, learn about their specialties and garner social experience from their work. Second, as newcomers, they should try to contribute to a harmonious atmosphere at their workplaces that encourages co-workers to help each other and exchange their thoughts. Third, they should keep learning. College students, newly initiated into the society, are not exactly in a position to pick and choose when it comes to looking for a job. More important than their jobs is their conviction in constant self-improvement achieved through lifelong learning.

[Host] Since you are speaking from your own experience, is there any story you want to share with us?

[Yan Hua] What I just said did come from my own experience. New to his or her first job, a college graduate, particularly one from a prestigious university, may have quite high expectation because of all the knowledge acquired from the ivory tower. But after working for some time, they may discover that they have much to learn about the society. What I have learnt from my experience is that they should focus on their work, try to handle all relationships well, and be patient and willing to learn.

[Fu Lianye] It's fair to say that college students today aren't exactly what they were like when we were young. They are more dynamic and they have learnt more. I also agree with Mr. Yan's remarks that first of all they should have a plan for their career. On the Youth Day of this year, we had a dialogue with the young people in our branch about the importance of having a career plan. My advice to them was that first, since they have chosen Bank of China, it is of great personal implication that they do their work well. That means they should "love and do well in whatever job they take up". Second, they should embrace difficulties at work, which are inevitable for every young person and even us too. The key is how to solve these problems and I think it needs a right attitude, which means they should solve these problems with their persistent efforts. Third, they should keep learning. Only constant learning can enrich and prepare us to meet the needs of a changing society and of Bank of China becoming more of a global player. All in all, they should live and learn.

[Host] Since you are both National Model Workers, how can the Model Worker spirit be spread out? And how one Model Worker can inspire more to follow him or her?

[Fu Lianye] Promoting the Model Worker spirit is a society-wide topic. We feel very proud and honored to see both party and state leaders at the General Assembly of Model Workers that we came to Beijing to attend. However, such an honor also means more responsibility and pressure to inspire the people around us while doing our own work well. I think that only through combining the Bank of China spirit and the Model Workers spirit in our work can we live up to the trust of the leadership at the head office and the provincial branch, and all our branch staff.

[Yan Hua] Our generation lives in a great era. It is paramount to promote the spirit of "glory belongs to workers and hard working is glorious" and every individual should contribute to the state and the nation. So maybe we can equal the Model Worker spirit to the spirit of hard working. Becoming Model Workers, and sacrifice for the sake of greater good are glorious, and we shall make greater contributions to the development of our country.

[Host] Model Workers do not necessarily have a spectacular record. Instead, what they do may look trifle or ordinary. But it is none other than the persistence in their careers and their immutable faith that makes them real Model Workers. I hope our audience can follow the Model Worker spirit by doing their work well. Thanks to our guests and audience. See you next time.

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