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Banking & Financial Services

January - March 2016
Updated: 11 Jan 2016

Given recent restructuring and redundancies in several major European banks globally, operations in Asia have been impacted.

A large number of staff have been given options to explore other roles internally. However employers do still need to look externally, and in such cases local experience and Chinese language skills remain a must given increasing cross-border transactions and coverage of Chinese clients.

In other trends, despite the year-end just passed, we see both compliance and client onboarding jobs actively being recruited across banking and financial services firms in Hong Kong.

Recently, regulatory compliance has been a high-demand area for banks. Top-tier banks are seeking compliance professionals equipped with strong legal and regulatory knowledge. In particular, candidates with experience at local regulators are highly preferred.

Product compliance (equities/OTC/derivatives) professionals within IBD and corporate compliance candidates are scarce in the market, and with this being a potential growth area, we expect candidate shortages to heighten.

Within customer due diligence (CDD), the turnover rate at medium-size banks is comparatively lower than at global banks. In 2015, medium-size banks actively grew their CDD/Know Your Client (KYC) teams by offering an average 20% salary increment to attract candidates. As FATCA is nearing deadline in May 2016, employers need to hire temporary workers to cope with the workload.

Due to rapid changes in regulations, general compliance candidates with a legal background, and licensing and drafting experience are in demand.

There is also a short supply but increasing demand for candidates who can perform end-to-end anti-money laundering (AML) compliance tasks. And as banks aim to comply with local regulatory requirements, financial crime compliance experts are in demand.

With an increase in non-performing loans and bad debts accumulated in banks, there is a growing need and a trend for hiring special assets professionals in credit risk departments to help banks develop recovery strategies for non-performing loan accounts and get them back to profitability.

In commercial banking, credit analysts/approvers are in demand as banks tighten up their credit culture and ensure they are taking on stable clients. Credit analysts proactively measure clients’ credit quality and ensure applications are within the bank's credit parameters. They help increase workflow efficiency so that applications are submitted to credit approvers to endorse the transactions.

In corporate and institutional banking, relationship managers are in demand as financial institutions’ client portfolios have seen a big push among the smaller banks. Especially in demand are those with a focus on non-bank financial institutions such as funds and asset managers which is an under-captured market for most banks. While the bigger banks may see less of a focus to expand this portfolio, smaller regional banks in Asia have capital to commit and the Chinese client base is the priority focus.

In candidate trends, traditionally candidates favour joining European or American Banks, but given recent market conditions and less vacancies, candidates have become more flexible in considering Chinese, Japanese and South East Asian banks.

As there are a number of candidates who are skilled but unemployed in the market, salary expectations have reduced and candidates are now also more open to contract opportunities.