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Seven ways to tell your boss that you’re quitting your banking job

How to tell your boss that you're quitting

Better to do it in person

Post-bonus hiring in Singapore and Hong Kong has been comparatively slow, but is expected to pick up in April. Recruiters in Asia are also fielding calls from RBS staff looking to leave the firm in the next few months and avoid expected layoffs later this year.

If you want to quit your own banking job in the second quarter, you are advised to plan your exit from your current company as carefully as your search for a new employer. Singapore and Hong Kong have small financial markets and you could feasibly end up working alongside your colleagues – or even your boss – in the future. “Always assume, especially in Asia, that one day you will again meet the people you are leaving – and you may need something from them,” says Fabrice Desmarescaux, co-founder of DTCA Executive Search Partners in Singapore.

Here’s how to tell your boss that you’re leaving without burning any bridges.

1) Hold off with that letter

In the job-hopping world of Asian financial services too many people treat resignation as an impersonal box-ticking exercise. “Never just hand over a formal resignation letter up front – always have a one-to-one talk with your boss before you do,” says Paul Heng, founder of NeXT Corporate Coaching Services in Singapore. “Give the boss the chance to hear it from you, before you become ‘paperwork’ yourself to them.”

2) Show some appreciation

Your boss may view your departure as a loss of face – a personal affront to their leadership – so try to allay these fears when you meet. Managers tend to feel defensive about resignations, explains Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre in Singapore. “So towards the start of the meeting show your appreciation for your boss and make them feel they’re not at fault. For example, point out how you value the learning opportunities they’ve given you,” he adds.

3) Don’t indulge in a debate

If your manager chooses to challenge your resignation with some aggressive questioning, it’s best not to get involved in an argument – neutral responses work best. “You can’t stop what others say about you – it’s how you react that’s most important. Reinforce that you understand their situation, but if they’re still very aggressive, it’s best to acknowledge how they feel and then walk away,” says Koh.

4) Be honest about job security

If a lack of job security at your current bank is a factor for you leaving, be open about it, advises Mark Sparrow, APAC managing director at search firm NP Group in Singapore. “Employers will typically understand this and if they can’t provide adequate answers then they can’t expect people to stay with them anyway.”

5) Be strong

“I’ve seen candidates accept counter offers just because they’re too frightened to say no to their manager,” says Sparrow. “Inevitably they still end up leaving within six months – the trust is generally broken and the relationship is never the same. So be courageous when you’ve made a choice to leave.”

6) Don’t badmouth

Aside from obvious job-security issues (think, RBS in Singapore wanting to sell or close its corporate bank) – dwelling on negative reasons for leaving isn’t advisable. “Focus on the positives of your move – skills, career, location, family – not the bad things about your present situation. Don’t mention money, don’t badmouth, don’t whine,” says Desmarescaux.

7) Ease their pain during the transition

Do whatever you can to ensure a smooth transition. Don’t just focus on business-as-usual work during your notice period, provide a handover schedule of outstanding issues, says Adrian Choo, a principal at search firm CTPartners in Singapore. Desmarescaux adds: “Think hard about how you can help. Can you stay until you finish an important project? Can you help identify a replacement? Make sure your manager doesn’t lose face during the handover and remember my number-one rule: assume you will deal with these people again – someday, somewhere.”


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