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Hong Kong economic growth stimulates active jobs market: Hays Quarterly Hotspots

Updated: 16 Apr 2014


Financial Planning & Analysis, Senior Architects, Structural Engineers and Actuaries are just four skills in demand as Hong Kong’s economy gathers momentum, says recruiting experts Hays in Hong Kong.


Hong Kong’s economy is set to expand at the fastest pace in three years in 2014 at between three and four per cent, after a 2.9 per cent expansion in 2013.


According to the recruiter’s latest Hays Quarterly Hotspots list of skills in demand for April to June 2014, there is more movement in both temporary and permanent positions and the market is expected to pick up further over the course of the year, especially in the commercial sector.


“Recruitment activity increased following the awarding of bonuses and organisations are having to move more quickly when making their hiring decisions in order to compete and secure the top candidates,” says Marc Burrage, Regional Director of Hays in Hong Kong.


One such area of vacancy growth is in the accountancy and finance sector. According to Marc, “We are seeing continued demand for experienced accounting professionals to join organisations that are regionally headquartered in Hong Kong. The greatest demand exists within the retail, property and technology industries.


“There is also an increasing amount of activity from Chinese banks and financial institutions as they look to expand,” says Mark. “They are looking to recruit highly skilled candidates from the local market who are trilingual in Cantonese, English and Mandarin.


“Demand also exists for candidates in the fields of architecture and design in both local and international firms. Local firms focus more on project implementation whilst international firms are competing in concept design.”


Due to an increase in the number of buildings projects throughout the territory, Hays is also seeing high demand for engineers in Hong Kong and Macau. “The commencement of construction at several large-scale resort and hospitality projects in Macau has caused a surge in demand. We expect this to continue and there are currently a large number of roles available,” says Marc.


“Employers have also indicated that they are looking to hire more Actuaries professionals in the areas of Business Development and Distribution as financial regulations continue to change the way products are distributed to customers.”


According to Marc, there has recently been more movement in both temporary and permanent positions. Employers are also looking at more temporary solutions with a view to covert contracts into permanent arrangements.


 A selection of skills in demand from the Hays Quarterly Hotspots for April to June 2014 follows:


  • Financial Planning & Analysis – Retail and FMCG employers are looking for experienced FP&A professionals to deliver more competitive ways to operate. It is becoming increasingly necessary for these professionals to be able to adapt to fast changing environments and possess strong analytical, interpersonal and communication skills. 


  • Regulatory Reporting Analysts Demand has increased for these professionals in response to tighter legislation and regulations.


  • Project Managers – A number of first tier developers continue to invest and develop projects in Mainland China. There is a huge demand for Hong Kong registered Architects and Quantity Surveyors to be deployed in second and third tier cities. In most cases, these positions include accommodation and tax equalisation benefits as well as return flights for the family.

·         Hospitality Interior Designers – Opportunities exist for talented individuals with high-end hospitality design experience. We currently have openings with hoteliers, developers and design consultants in Hong Kong and Greater China. The projects vary from hotels, large residential developments and up market restaurants.

·         Senior Architects – Hong Kong registered Architects are highly sought after to join a number of established local developers and architectural practices. Foreign registered Architects with strong design skills or exposure to well known projects can find opportunities in international design teams across the region.

  • Corporate Banking Relationship Managers – These are important revenue generating candidates within corporate banking. Employers expect newly hired managers to be able to onboard new clients while managing existing accounts. In high demand are Senior Relationship Managers and Team Heads that focus on Chinese Corporations.


  • Credit Approvers – Growth in frontline services also creates opportunities for more headcount in Credit Approval. These professionals review the new credit application submissions for transactions from clients. Credit Approvers with more than 10 years of experience are in most demand.


  • Transaction Banking specialists – These are product specialists who work alongside Relationship Managers to promote cash, trade, structured financing and other customised solutions products to increase cross selling opportunities. There are many smaller banks that are starting to set up these departments to parallel their larger bank offerings. As a result, Directors with more than ten years’ experience are in demand.


  • Civil Engineers – Demand for Civil Engineers has been steady, particularly for professionals with rail, tunnelling and geotechnical engineering backgrounds. Due to the commencement of a large-scale governmental bridge project in Hong Kong, there are opportunities for site based and also design coordination experts.


  • Quantity Surveyors (civil) – Quantity Surveyors of all levels are in demand, particularly in cost and budget management, for post-contract work within the civil and infrastructure construction industry.


  • Structural Engineers – Due to an increase in complex building projects in Hong Kong, several multi-national engineering consultancies are looking to expand their teams in order to take on design work.


  • Sustainability/Environmental Engineers – Demand has increased for Sustainability and Environmental Engineers, particularly within multinational engineering consultancy companies. These firms are seeking LEED and BEAM certified candidates to consult on the design phase of green/sustainable buildings.


  • C&B specialists Multinational corporations are hiring temporary staff to finish their compensation and benefit projects. C&B talent is always in high demand, especially candidates who have regional exposure.


  • Mobile Development specialists Demand for these professionals is mainly due to the rapid advancement of technology. Given the high number of people using mobile devices around the globe, including mobile internet banking services, demand has risen for candidates with mobile development expertise. 


  • Data Analysts and Analytics experts Big Data (transaction data, web logs, sensor systems) has emerged but there is a shortage of candidates with the skills required to analyse such data. Professionals in this area are particularly sought after by insurance companies and financial institutions.


  • IT Relationship Managers These professionals manage in-house relationships between IT departments and other business units. Airlines, insurance companies and legal firms are examples of organisations that use these services in the region.


  • Business Analysts - Business Analysts continue to be in high demand and short supply, driving salaries higher and often resulting in a bidding war between companies for the top talent.


  • Technology Risk and Information Security Managers Technology Risk and IS Managers are in high demand in first tier investment banks at Vice President and Executive Director level. Technology risk professionals with expertise dealing with regional regulators across Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Korea and Japan are in especially high demand. Regulatory requirements continue to drive the search for talent across the investment banking space.


  • M&A specialists There has been an increase in recruitment activity from medium-sized insurance firms for M&A specialists at all levels. These foreign based insurers continue to focus their growth within Asia.


  • Bancassurance A decrease in demand for agency and telemarketing services for insurance business development has led to an increase in investment in developing banks’ channels for distribution.


  • Actuaries There has been ongoing demand in this area and companies are focusing on products, pricing and valuation. The demand for talented actuaries who know the Hong Kong or APAC market has yet to be fully met.


  • Corporate Transactions specialists – These positions incorporate corporate finance, listing rules compliance work and M&A. Professionals that have these skills are in strong demand.


  • Consumer goods and retail specialists – Demand for legal specialists in consumer goods and retail is expected to remain high. Candidates are attracted to luxury brand names and hiring companies usually attract a wide pool of candidates.


  • Anti-Corruption and FCPA Compliance specialists – The highly publicised increased scrutiny by Chinese regulatory bodies is set to create opportunities for Lawyers with such skills at both law firms and multinational corporations. International law firms continue to strengthen their litigation, arbitration and investigation practices by marketing aggressively towards companies in Greater China and Asia.


  • Customer Services Consultants – Demand exists in the insurance industry for Customer Services Consultants in response to high turnover rates. Candidates often desire to move on from this role after a few years.


  • Legal Secretaries These candidates remain in high demand due to the very specific requirements of law firms, especially those with experience in supporting expatriates.


  • Quantity Surveyor Managers – A number of Hong Kong’s premier developers are looking for experienced Quantity Surveyors with leadership aspirations to lead QS teams on large scale, mixed used projects in the Asia region. Candidates with a combination of international and regional experience on large mixed use developments, as well as the ability to converse in Chinese and English, will have a strong advantage.


  • Property/Asset Managers – Large corporations headquartered in Hong Kong are actively seeking experienced professionals to manage and expand their company’s asset portfolio in the region. Extensive experience in managing international grade-A quality properties is required, preferably in developer markets.


  • Business Development Managers (Legal) Strong Business Development Managers are in short supply for the legal sector. Consequently law firms will look at candidates from other partnership model organisations.


For the full list of skills in demand, please view our Hays Quarterly Hotspots.


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