Finance & Banking resources shortage in Vietnam

Nov 20, 2007

You need to be a Finance & Banking student to work for a bank. And the banks also need people like you. I'm sorry, that's not quite true.

A recent article on VnEconomy ( Vietnam Economic Times ) discussed the shortage of human resources in the financial sector amid rapid growth of Vietnamese banks and stock brokerage firms. For years, the lack of human resources in Vietnam has been no new problem to anyone. So the article suggests the banks should set up their own training centers to cope with such scarcity. Agreed.

Having talked to different people working in foreign banks, I 've come to realize that it's not necessary to be a graduate from such majors as banking and finance to work for banks, especially foreign banks. It is because these banks have their own training programs and only require foundation knowledge from the newcomers. Contrary to my previous belief, people from my university, Foreign Trade University, are working for many banks in the whole country in many different divisions ranging from International Payment to Credit.

This is true thanks to the fact that a lot of banks have their own training programs and if you look at the job specifications posted on their websites, no prerequisite knowledge is required. Thus this creates equal opportunities for anyone coming from any education background.

With an annual expansion rate at 30 -40%, banks are rigorously dealing with its recruitment problems. Should they blame the universities that can only produce 11,000 students each year in comparison with around 15,000 needed employees? No, absolutely not. What they should do instead is to build a sustainable and effective in-house training program like that of any other foreign banks, or companies in general, and take in the brightest persons from top universities nationwide, give these smarties a chance to develop themselves internally.

This is so crucial to the fate of domestic banks, especially when the day the banking sector opens to all players internal and external. The difficulties Vietnamese banks are now facing is nothing compared to those that they may in the near future.

Things will sort themselves out the right way if people give the needed catalyst.

15 May School - The ex-street hope

Nov 19, 2007

20 years after the Innovation (or Đổi mới) policy, Vietnam has succeeded in making its people's lives better off and achieved a staggering annual growth rate at around 7,5% in the last decade. Had it not been for the Asia financial crisis, we would be even better now. However, as we all know, fast growth is also accompanied by a widening gap between the rich and the poor. Modernization has forced so many people in less affluent regions to flood to big cities in search of better lives. As a result, they are often left unemployed and homeless due to lack of skills and knowledge.

Children from those families therefore are not able to go to school and have to make a living by shining shoes, selling chewing gums, lotteries, flowers and stuffs along the streets. We call them street children or "bụi đời". Having to work to support their family at a very early age, they are inevitably exposed to hunger and social evils such as sexual abuse, labor exploitation, drugs addiction, prostitution and petty crimes. Consequently, the street children become the burden of the city community and especially the booming tourism industry.

In an attempt to alleviate the situation, schools like the 15 May School have been built. These are often public schools operating on limited budgets allocated by the state. For years, they have played a crucial role in providing shelters and education as well as vocational training for these disadvantaged children. The particular school mentioned in this entry was set up exactly in the year when the innovation policy was implemented. It has been a shelter to around 30 kids and is now catering less than 10. Besides academic teaching, vocational training such as cooking, hair and beauty, vocational English are also provided. Despite bureaucratic obstacles, the school is moving forward and achieving substantial results with the support from international volunteers from VSO and countless other sponsors and donors who have generously given the school financial aids and material donations.

Brought to the school in May 2007 by a friend of mine, I have been working there as a translator for 2 volunteers from VSO, both of them work as financial management advisers. My job is to assist them in their communication with the school, translating documents from English to Vietnamese and vice versa. I also help during discussion meetings between the school board and the volunteers. Their job is chiefly involved in preparing a long term and sustainable plan for the school to provide extra curriculum activities, maintain its relationship with the sponsors and donors as well as raising funds. Until now, we have successful set up 2 projects at the school. one is sponsored by SAGA, a UK Charitable Foundation, to provided assistance for 7 young students who are leaving the school for independent life. Another from the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) supports a vocational English program set up by SEALNet, a Stanford-based leadership network, in the summer of 2007, to equip the children with sufficient English skills for their future, and a Scholarship Fund to give grants to children in need within the school. During the time working at the school, I have had valuable opportunities to meet with great people from around the world and within the school who are so kind-hearted and enthusiastic about caring for the disadvantaged children.

Tomorrow, as the school celebrates the Teachers' Day, it is granting scholarships worth of more than 30,0000,000 VND (nearly 2,000 USD) or half of the yearly allowed fund from SPE. Children ranging from grade 1 to University students are getting money to partially reduce their family financial burden of letting them go to school instead of making them to work. The least amount of money is worth of 500,000 VND (nearlly 30USD), for this academic year. Another half of the fund will be awarded at the end of the school year. Seeing those funds being used effectively, I cannot help feeling happy about what I've contributed to the efforts made and what the children are benefiting from those efforts.

A brighter future is lying ahead of them and one day they will be able to contribute to the society.

You can visit the school website at:

District 4 - My second hometown

Nov 18, 2007

Never have I written about my second hometown in a blog though having been living here for more than 10 years.

As Ho Chi Minh city is expanding geographically to the south and economically as an international city after Vietnam's entry into the WTO, the district certainly enjoys some of the benefits from this. The largest contribution to this rapid transformation, in my opinion, is due to the constructions of the new bridges, which link this surrounded-by-river territory to the other parts of the city.

Located to the south of District 1, the commercial center of Saigon, and north of District 7, the outskirts of this amazing city, District 4 combines the modern scenes of its northern neighborhood and rural settings of its southern brother. Its history has given its the reputation for a hub of crimes and gangsters. Whenever the phrase "District 4" was heard of, people were just getting scared. No one would want to step their foot in this fierce land. As for population, I don't have the exact statistics but it is not so large in comparison with the other districts. Its economy is far behind the wealthy neighbor.

[The H2 Department Block]

All the infamous history is now changing. The building of Ong Lanh and Kinh Te bridges has turned this place into another bridge for District 1 and District 7 as well as improved the traffic problem that Nguyen Tat Thanh street, the one that was previously used as the main route to and forth the 2 districts. Cars and motorbikes are flooding the streets and traffic jams are often to be seen, especially during rush hours and rainy days. In return, branch offices of banks which are headquartered in the center are now turning up. A big Honda service center has been put up. And I must say, I'm very satisfied with it. It has a waiting lounge with cable TV and wi-fi connectivity, which is far more superior to many other fellow Honda stores. The apartment block right next to this end of the Ong Lanh Bridge and 200 meters away from Kinh Te bridge has really become a good business location. Habubank got a piece of business there. A new Highland Coffee shop is now being built. Another Korean fastfood store is being constructed right beside. I must say that I can do virtually anything here without the need to travel to other districts as before.

New schools and colleges have been built to serve education needs of the children here, whose parents are mostly labor workers and families belong to the low-end of the income index. It is those schools that change the face of life here. They improve both the knowledge and ethics of those enrolled and slowly eradicate the Dark side of the force here. Hopefully, not only branch offices but also new companies will create more and more jobs for the local residents and thus raise the standard of living here. Most of them are now working in the Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone but their incomes are very low compared to others'.

All in all, one year after Vietnam's access to the WTO, lives are turning over new leafs.

Re: the Voice of Banking Students contest

Nov 4, 2007

Today, I participated in the first round a contest called Voice of Banking Students, which was organized by the Banking Faculty of the University of Economics HCMC.

To begin with, I'm no banking student at all and my knowledge of banking and general finance isn't good enough (which was demonstrated by my performance of the test lol]

Before taking the test, a multiple choice paper of 100 questions, I hadn't prepared much for it. It was taking it for fun, told by myself.

I intend to work for a bank after graduating from Uni and this is a good chance for me to pull my sleeves up and actually work on something related other than im-exporting stuffs that I'm being taught at school. For your information, apart from International Trade Policies and International Commercial Transactions, all I've been studying evolves around micro and macro economics.

The contest went well. It was kinda difficult. It had something to do with exchange rate, which I had studied in macroeconomics and forgotten as well ^^. On the banking stuff, I had no idea.

The rest of the paper was in effect a TOEIC test and it wasn't tricky.

There were also several questions about social events such as when VN and the US signed the BTA.

Kinda tired now so that's everything about the exam. I dont wanna write too much on my rainy Sunday evening. ;)

Why this?

Yahoo 360 is experiencing problems and it may very well be closed anytime soon or otherwise integrated into something bigger and greater (?). Yahoo 360 has been the dominant player in social networking in Vietnam for as long as 2 years (I need someone to confirm this) largely due to the fact that most Vietnamese use Yahoo Messenger and Yahoo has done a great job of blending everything altogether. But now things are annoying over there and people are leaving 360.

Mash then pops up as the alternative of choice to 360. But I cannot say I like it since it looks like a MesS to me, LOL. I dont mean to criticize Yahoo, though I haven't dived deeply inside it, I feel that it is way far inferior to Facebook, which I currently have an account to keep myself up-to-date with friends overseas, most of whom are currently using Facebook as their main account.

There are other choices. But I am a fan of Google, and its products, so I chose Blogger.

This also allows me to try something different ^ ^

Finally, welcome to my blog!