Skills in demand for the October to December 2015 quarter include candidates with strong written and spoken Mandarin to take on compliance/onboarding roles in banks headquartered in China. Candidates with experience in KYC, verifying the identity of clients are at a distinct advantage. Regulatory compliance, anti-money laundering (AML), general compliance and client due diligence candidates are also in demand. Compliance candidates at all levels are in demand but particularly at the officer senior manager level.
In commercial banking, the market has been tough yet banks keep hiring in order to hit their sales and growth targets. Local candidates are preferred along with hiring on a permanent basis instead of using contractors for front office roles.
Overall, demand over the coming quarter will echo what we have been seeing for some time with most of the banks open to “advance hiring” where they meet candidates even where headcount has not yet been created.
Relationship managers and transaction bankers are highly sought. A shortage of candidates coupled with greater volumes of business from “new to bank clients” is driving up demand. Those with experience in China corporate and with non-bank financial institutions clients (for example, insurance, asset management and funds) are in strong demand. Candidates must have the ability to make immediate connections so for this reason employers prefer to hire locally. In addition to bringing on client relationships, relationship managers are expected to cross-sell so must understand various banking products such as mergers & acquisitions, debt capital markets and equity capital markets. Mandarin and Cantonese language skills remain fundamental to success but employers also want candidates to be able to read and write English at a high level. We are also seeing demand for credit analysts to support relationship managers.
In corporate banking we are seeing demand for a new role to help pitch investment banking products, the Financial Solutions Banker. Established banks have had these roles for some years but now other banks are following suit. The recruitment market for corporate banking relationship managers is also very competitive.
SME credit risk approvers is one of the fastest growing areas to assess an ever-increasing number of applications for loans and transactions from small to medium enterprises.
Investment banking credit analysts with Mandarin speaking skills at the Vice President level are in high demand amongst top tier investment banks. And an increase in the volume of financing for clients from China will keep Mandarin-speaking structured finance and syndicated finance specialists in demand over the coming quarter in both commercial and corporate banks. Most banks want candidates with four or more years experience but these candidates are in low supply right now.
Banks are also seeking middle office contractors and are willing to compete for talent by offering higher salaries and more attractive benefits such as longer annual leave and overtime allowances. These sweeteners are being used to entice candidates out of both current temporary roles and permanent roles. Many contractors within the financial services industry are now working at a premium and permanent employees are open to temporary positions so they can command a higher compensation package. This in turn is also pushing up rates. Candidates in Hong Kong are still somewhat unsure about temporary roles but are slowly gaining the confidence to accept them.
Investment banks are off-shoring middle office functions but demand for onshore trade support contractors continues to rise to tackle a temporary spike in workloads.
Other skill sets in demand include candidates well versed in using VBA to automate trade processes and Mandarin proficiency is a must.
Meanwhile, the risk recruitment space is fairly quiet. We expect some hiring to fill operational risk roles but market risk opportunities are few and far between and mostly only at the senior level within the equities space. There are some First Line of Defence (FLOD) roles within risk but candidates must have excellent stakeholder management and communication skills to be successful.
On the candidate side, the preference is for roles in top tier banks and international banks. We are also seeing more candidates seeking to upskill by gaining in-demand qualifications such as Financial Risk Manger (FRM) and Chartered Financial Analyst /Certified Public Accountant.