The decision-making process on hires has slowed considerably, often taking a month or two from interview to offer stage. Banks have been cost conscious and P&L hiring now often requires an extra layer of sign-off from senior management. We expect most vacancies to be replacement hires, with few new headcounts for organic growth.
Global banks that have cut their headcounts in the front-line over the past few quarters are slowly starting to replace them, though at the less experienced level. Some smaller banks have also quietly exited the Hong Kong market, and we anticipate more consolidation in the market via mergers of banks (which has been an active strategy within private banking).
Amidst increasing compliance regulations, there is a big demand for compliance specialists with the expertise and up-to-date knowledge of changing regulatory requirements.
Tighter regulations across the banking environment also mean the need for Risk Specialists. Chinese banks, in particular, have displayed a higher demand for such talent.
Banks are also looking for Relationship Managers as front-office sales is crucial in maintaining revenue. However, the hiring process is significantly slower than before
In terms of candidate trends, experienced professionals are less active in hunting for jobs due to the perceived slowdown of the market. However, most of them are open to discuss when new opportunities are available.