HUMAN RESOURCES - THERE IS STILL A SHORTAGE OF SLOVAK PROFESSIONALS BUT THE POOL IS GROWING

Head hunters keep a sharp lookout for banking experts

TURBULENCE in the Slovak banking sector over the last decade has left its mark, particularly when it comes to human resources. Several years after privatization, banks in Slovakia are only just starting to hire local qualified professionals to fill some of the more executive positions in new or previously underdeveloped areas, such as internal audits, risk management, mortgages and corporate banking.

TURBULENCE in the Slovak banking sector over the last decade has left its mark, particularly when it comes to human resources. Several years after privatization, banks in Slovakia are only just starting to hire local qualified professionals to fill some of the more executive positions in new or previously underdeveloped areas, such as internal audits, risk management, mortgages and corporate banking.

"After privatization and during transformation, managerial positions in newly established key departments were filled by foreign managers," Iveta Uhrová, director of human resources department of Slovenská sporiteľňa (SLSP) told The Slovak Spectator.

Alena Walterová, the spokeswoman of VÚB bank, added that after privatization, it was necessary to hire foreigners to cover the areas of financial bank management and corporate banking.

The banks agree that times are changing. The level of expertise of the current Slovak generation of bankers has significantly improved. Banks rely on their shareholder banks abroad less frequently to supply banking specialists. According to SLSP, its shareholder bank is even interested in hiring some of its Slovak experts.

Currently, foreign managers comprise only 4 percent of the overall number of VÚB top and middle management. In SLSP, foreign managers make up 40 percent of the top management, but there are almost no foreign managers in the middle and lower levels of management.

Both banks now strongly rely on internal candidates when it comes to filling managerial positions, although SLSP admitted they are interested in banking experts working outside the bank.

Walterová said that universities are excellent sources for highly qualified future bank employees, although they need some training before they become real experts.

"We need to spend more time with them to connect their studies with practical experience. Many of them do internships during their studies and our bank is interested in 'catching' the clever students," she said.

Banks encourage their employees to further their education. Almost all levels of management, excluding top officials, take courses aimed at increasing their professional banking and managerial skills.

Insiders say that experts in the financial market are in high demand and that human resources departments are constantly on the lookout for qualified candidates.

"The HR banking market is very competitive and we still see a large mobility of experts from one bank to another. It is connected with the fact that in some specific areas there is a low number of experts with experience," Walterová said.

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