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Banking & Financial Services

July - September 2015
Updated: 07 Jul 2015

We are seeing increasing hiring intentions in many areas of Hong Kong’s banking & financial services sector, especially for contract professionals. As a result, many financial institutions are now offering higher salaries and benefits in order to attract candidates in high demand but short supply away from their existing temporary assignment or to compete against potential permanent offers.

Many contractors within the financial services industry are now working at a premium and many permanent employees are open to temporary positions based on the potential to earn a higher compensation. This in turn is also pushing rates up.

In terms of specific trends for the July to September quarter, in the middle office (banking operations) we are seeing increased hiring intentions for trade support contractors from both international and Chinese banks. As competition increases for experienced trade support contractors, banks are making their salary and benefits packages more attractive in order to entice candidates.

We’re also seeing high demand for VBA. Trade support involves a lot of spreadsheet preparation and data manipulation, which is why employers look for candidates who can automate the data.

Commercial and corporate banking remains the solid profit revenue stream, and therefore high growth targets have been set. As a result in the front office corporate banking space we’re seeing high demand for Senior Corporate Bankers who can bring new corporate banking clients to a bank. Employers also want Senior Relationship Managers who can manage China corporates or Hong Kong mid-cap corporates.

Candidates who manage non-bank financial insurance clients, such as funds, insurance or brokers/dealers, are also sought as bank portfolios have been saturated while non-bank FI portfolios are under-penetrated in most banks.

In the front office investment banking space candidates have been less active given that it is the peak investment banking deal season. Most vacancies this quarter will be replacement hires. In the front office space we have seen an increasing number of employers become far more open to recruiting overseas Chinese returners. Candidates who have mainland deal experience are still highly preferred.

We’re seeing a high demand for M&A Banking, Corporate Finance and Capital Markets professionals. Hong Kong is the financial hub and entryway to China and therefore there is still a lot of activity in the front office investment banking space. Candidates with Mandarin and Cantonese language skills in addition to strong cross-border deal experience are in highest demand.

Within risk management we’re seeing high demand in special assets and remedial management for Credit Approvers and Senior Credit Analysts. Given the aggressive growth of the commercial banking sector over the past few years, not all new clients have been profitable and there are now a high number of delinquent accounts and non-performing loans. This has created a need to recruit within credit risk departments.

In terms of candidate trends, candidates are slowly becoming more accepting of temporary roles, while they are increasingly interested in employers that offer work-life balance.