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CGS International: Building a Global Community as a Leading Financial Services Provider


CGS International Securities (CGS International) successfully held its inaugural China A-Share conferences in Malaysia and Singapore in April 2024

Managing a dispersed workforce across diverse countries presents unique challenges in today’s era of globalisation. CGS International, an award-winning and market leading integrated financial services provider, has tackled this challenge head-on with innovative strategies to nurture, inspire, and acknowledge its global workforce. In an exclusive interview with Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of CGS International, Carol Fong, we delve into their comprehensive approach to fostering a united and engaged workforce.

Driving employee engagement beyond borders

CGS International taps on our wealth of global and ASEAN insights to offer equities trading, leveraged products, wealth management, investment banking, equities research, Shariah-compliant financing, fixed income, currency and commodities, structured products, and prime brokerage services in over 15 countries and regions. As a customer-centric firm, it focuses on value creation for clients, offering a suite of investment and financial solutions for retail, corporate and institutional clients. Since December 2023, CGS International have become wholly owned by China Galaxy Securities (CGS), a leading securities firm in China, whose ultimate parent is China Investment Corporation, one of the world’s top sovereign wealth funds. Its strong Chinese parentage positions CGS International as a nexus for China-ASEAN relations. 

Enhancing employee engagement across a diverse and widespread geographical network demands a thoughtful blend of systematic strategy and sensitivity. CGS International has proactively embraced this challenge by implementing flexible and inclusive policies tailored to meet the diverse needs of its employees. For example, to foster a supportive environment that values work-life harmony, they provide remote work options and early dismissal before significant public holidays.

Regular communication and check-ins are central to CGS International’s engagement strategy. Management and department heads conduct regular team meetings accommodating different time zones, aiming not only to provide work updates but also to assess employee sentiment and gather feedback. Additionally, the use of collaborative tools such as intranet, Microsoft Teams workspace chat and video conferencing, enables employees to effortlessly share ideas and feedback, regardless of their location.

“Our Group Management Team travels to our offices in the various countries once to twice a year to conduct town halls, adding a personal touch to our engagements,” highlighted Carol Fong. These face-to-face interactions are complemented by annual management retreats, which serve as a platform for goal setting, bonding, and strategising for the various business units.

CGS International’s Carol Fong, Group CEO, Chan Yuen May, Group Chief Financial Officer, and Pauline Lim, Group Chief Corporate Officer, together with Patcharanon Cheevakrianggrai, CEO, Thailand, and staff members during the 2024 town hall in Thailand’s office

To enhance staff engagement, selected employees participated in dialogue sessions with management

Motivating and Inspiring Employees

A robust performance appraisal process is integral to CGS International’s motivation strategy. This system aligns individual performance goals with the company’s overarching strategy, ensuring clear accountability, and facilitating valuable career growth discussions. Employees set goals at the beginning of the year, undergo interim reviews during mid-year, and have a formal review at year-end.

Carol emphasised on the holistic support provided through this process, “Our system supports professional development and aligns individual achievements with CGS International’s strategic goals, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.”

Appreciating Employee Contributions

CGS International and CGS established the People First Fund (PFF) to further acknowledge employee contributions. The PFF invests in the organisation’s Low Carbon Index Exchange-Traded Fund and net cash proceeds from the investment will be distributed to all eligible staff in 2026. This initiative, separate from the annual bonus payout, underscores the company’s commitment to rewarding staff loyalty.

“This fund not only demonstrates our commitment to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles, it further allows our staff to share the rewards of the Group’s product success,” Carol shared.

Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

In the competitive financial industry, attracting and retaining top talent is paramount. CGS International employs a holistic approach, incorporating a clear value proposition, effective recruitment strategies, and a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The company provides diverse career pathways and exposure to dynamic business environments, including cross-border opportunities, such as short-term secondments for our staff’s professional development.

“Our hiring processes are aligned with TAFEP’s fair employment practices, ensuring competitive salaries and internal equity. This approach is in line with paying a ‘living wage’ and promoting merit-based hiring regardless of gender,” Carol noted.

To commemorate the 78th Independence Day of the Republic of Indonesia, our Indonesia office organised a national costume competition, to celebrate the spirit of Independence Day.

In celebration of Deepavali, staff from the Malaysia office decorated the office with a ‘kolam’ – a traditional, decorative motif drawn by hand using rice dyed with vibrant colours

Fostering a Vibrant Company Culture

At CGS International, the PACES Core Values – People-oriented, Accountability, Collaboration, Excellence, and Sustainability – guides its corporate culture. These values are ingrained through various channels, including onboarding sessions, our internal employee intranet, and engagement activities organised by the company’s PACES Ambassadors

Feedback and communication are significant to shaping the company’s culture. The Group CEO conducts biannual town halls and dialogue sessions, providing a forum for employees to express their ideas and feedback. Additionally, platforms such as Viva Engage, an anonymous online suggestion box, and an HR chatbot ensure that communication remains transparent and accessible across the organisation.

CGS International was awarded the Silver Prize for Best CSR Communications at the Marketing Interactive PR Awards 2024, underscoring the dedication of our staff volunteers who have actively championed our CSR initiative, “FinLit is for Everyone”, which promotes financial literacy to the broader community

CGS actively promotes employee engagement through a variety of activities, including lunch-and-learn sessions, fitness programs, and events like Fruits Day, Health and Wellness Days, and seasonal celebrations. Additionally, all staff have access to LinkedIn Learning, which supports their professional development with an extensive library of courses tailored to their career needs, offering convenient, bite-sized, and diverse content for skills-based learning.

Insights from CGS International to Boost Engagement and Cultivate Culture

CGS’s Core Values, PACES, are proudly displayed at their Singapore Office

CGS International’s shares their best practices for other organisations:

  1. Foster Inclusivity and Diversity: Embrace and celebrate cultural diversity while implementing inclusive policies, to ensure that all employees feel valued and respected.
  2. Promote Work-Life Balance: Offer flexible working arrangements and support mental health initiatives.
  3. Implement Transparent Communication: Keep communication channels open with regular updates and accessible feedback platforms to foster trust and transparency.
  4. Recognise and Reward Employees: Implement recognition programmes and provide tangible rewards to acknowledge and appreciate employees’ contributions and achievements.

CGS International’s dedication to creating an inclusive, supportive, and dynamic workplace goes beyond mere employee satisfaction, it is about forging a resilient and cohesive global community. By prioritising flexible policies, regular and transparent communication, along with meaningful recognition, CGS International exemplifies how a financial services provider can effectively navigate the complexities of a dispersed workforce.

About CGS International

CGS International Securities Pte. Ltd. (CGS International) is an award-winning and market leading integrated financial services provider, ranked among the top securities houses in Asia.

CGS International taps on our wealth of global and ASEAN insights to offer equities trading, leveraged products, wealth management, investment banking, equities research, Shariah-compliant financing, fixed income, currency and commodities, structured products, and prime brokerage services in over 15 countries and regions.

Find out more at www.cgsi.com