Jobs & employment blog

Jobs & employment blog

Your career is a journey with many opportunities to explore. As a trusted partner, we guide thousands of professionals and employers through every step of their way. From industry specific insights, interview preparation, to team management and in-demand jobs – we’ve got you covered.


Sourcing Banking Talent in Hong Kong: An Inside Story


Amidst a bleak global economic outlook caused by concerns for an upcoming US and European recession as well as spillover from the Russia-Ukraine war, the Asian banking sector remains resilient carving out a positive niche for itself amidst turbulent international conditions. The recent conflict involving Israel and Hamas has only intensified this situation, further unsettling an already fragile world economy. 

In the third quarter, Hong Kong's economy experienced a 4.1% upswing thanks to an increase in tourism and private spending. This aligned with Fitch Ratings' upgraded assessment from 'neutral' to 'improving'. Nevertheless, it fell short of economists' initial projections of 5.2% expansion due to stringent financial circumstances and rising geopolitical conflicts. 

To learn more about the intricacies of Hong Kong’s banking and finance sector, we spoke with Wisely Wong, Business Director for Banking and Finance Services for Hays Hong Kong to learn how this industry has evolved to fit the market and what challenges candidates and businesses are facing today. 


Hong Kong banking and finance has embraced the future of technology 

While local economy contributes much to the success of this critical sector, there is also much to be said about the flexibility Hong Kong banks have taken in their approach towards updating their processes to be future-ready. Hong Kong consumers today now enjoy a variety of digital-ready products and services that make the banking process much easier. 

On paper, these innovations are being seen as a step towards bridging the gap between two important segments of the population. First of these are rural communities with limited access to physical banks benefit greatly from the availability of online services, allowing them to perform transactions without the hassle of traveling long distances to visit an outlet. 

But technology benefits more than just marginalised groups. These innovations are crucial for appealing to a new generation of users that are embracing the digital world more keenly than ever before. From simple utilities such as being able to transact via mobile devices to integrated payment functions linking vendors to customers with simple QR codes, Hong Kong banks are doing what they can to market themselves to Gen-Z as institutions that cater to their unique needs. 


Hong Kong banks are adopting artificial intelligence faster than ever 

As the world of work continues to evolve at a breakneck pace, flexibility has become a key component for organisations sourcing for the right talent to support their operational needs. Nowhere does this feel more pronounced than in the tightly regulated banking and finance industry, where necessary change is fought for at every step of the way. 

Leading this change is AI and automation technology, which Hong Kong banks have been quick to adopt to. HSBC recently unveiled its AI-powered marketing campaign, #WealthDecoded to help break down financial trends into digestible insights for the public. 

But at the very center of it all, banks understand the need to maintain a human touch in their strategy. Today, front office positions are in high demand, with many banks looking to secure existing staff by offering large salary increments and associated benefits. This is supported by robust hiring strategies to fill vacancies, as financial institutions look towards building a better candidate experience to entice applicants. 

Where AI adoption has not yet seen heavy use is in the talent recruitment space. The candidate acquisition process is still very much a traditional one, with a preference towards internal acquisition teams, agencies or referral programs.  


Virtual Banking is growing in Hong Kong 

Worldwide, digital banks have been growing in popularity among users for providing a seamless, trouble-free digital on-boarding process. This is especially true in Asia where a fifth of the world’s virtual banks current preside, offering contemporary, cloud-driven architecture, exceptional user engagement, and a readiness to integrate their financial services into existing platforms to the tune of user engagement. 

This trend is set to continue in Hong Kong, where two of the city’s virtual banks, ZA Bank and Mox Bank was ranked sixth and tenth respectively in the 2023 Global Mobile Benchmark by Sia Partners. A survey commissioned by the Virtual Banking Education Taskforce found that consumers had a positive impression of virtual banks, believing them to be equal to traditional banks in terms of regulation and deposit protection.



What banking and finance roles are in demand in Hong Kong? 

With Hong Kong still in the midst of rebounding from COVID measures, retail banks have been growing their frontline operations to compensate for the reopening of previously shuttered branches. There is also increased demand for relationship managers in the corporate and commercial banking space. 

However, banks have been finding it difficult to source for talent of late. Candidates are taking a conservative approach towards their careers, favouring existing stability encouraged by organisations that are looking to retain as many of their existing staff as possible. This resource shortage is spurred on by offshore competition, with banking looking to outsource operations to markets with lower costs such as Singapore. 

All this bodes well for candidates seeking to break into an industry that is currently in need of fresh talent. Candidates with a healthy clientele portfolio, the right connections, and a good mix of interpersonal, language and leadership skills will find themselves in high demand from competing institutions today. 

Additionally, ESG and Sustainability roles have been growing in popularity as companies work towards incentive targets. Recruitment consultants are well positioned to help candidates from across all industries with a strong background in these competencies looking to break into the historically high paying banking and finance line. 

In an evolving market like banking and finance, we understand the importance of having quick access to top talent who will make a real difference. We have spent years nurturing an ecosystem of highly engaged and unique candidates and will work with you to grow or scale your business using our unique expertise aligned to sectors and technologies. Be sure to reach out to us if you have a position that needs filling.  


What are Hong Kong employers doing to find talent in banking and finance? 

With talent acquisition growing more challenging, many financial institutions are investing in in-house teams to supplement their hiring programs, with line managers having access to job boards to fill any vacancies that may arise. 

To compensate for candidate shortages, banks in Hong Kong are also putting their internal mobility initiatives up front and centre. These initiatives heavily target internal pools, rotating them between portfolios to gain the exposure needed for a senior role in the organisation. Executives willing to travel are also provided opportunities to relocate internationally to facilitate operations in markets requiring support. 


Should they risk losing valued personnel, banks are also open to counteroffers, with the goal of persuading them to stay. This is especially crucial when it comes to positions that are difficult to fill due to a lack of suitable candidates. 
As recruitment experts in banking and finance, we can help candidates navigate their prospects, equipping them with the tools to make the best employment decisions. Reach out to us and begin strategising the next phase of your career in banking and finance. 


Where does Gen-Z fit into the Hong Kong banking and finance talent strategy? 

The world of banking has grown increasingly intertwined with technology, and Hong Kongn banks understand this in principle. With a customer-centric focus when adapting to modern technology, financial institutions will now have to direct that same focus towards the search for talent. Understanding the demographics of this talent then, is key to developing a holistic strategy to ensure the talent pool doesn’t dry up.  


At the very centre of this focus is Gen Z; a digitally savvy generation with formative experiences from the pandemic. This talent class feels at odds with the traditional working structures of a banking culture that has long been exemplified as an office job with long hours ahead of employees looking to climb the corporate ladder. Despite this contrast of values, organisations have much to gain from attracting and retaining Gen Z into the world of banking. 


  • Prioritise employee wellbeing 

The trend of "quiet quitting" and more recently, “lazy girl jobs” gained momentum these past two years, with employees minimising their efforts to cope with extended workdays and rising health concerns. These terms have struck a chord with Gen Z, who are increasingly prioritising their well-being over their careers. 

Today, many banking and finance companies have made investments in physical and mental health programmes for employees. Initiatives such as extended bereavement leave, gym memberships and flexible work arrangements are gaining popularity as organisations look towards providing the resources employees need to stay healthy in all aspects. 


  • Encourage diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) 

This generation is passionate about creating a more equitable and inclusive world. To meet their expectations, many companies in the banking and finance sector have taken significant steps to promote diversity and inclusion. This ranges from diverse hiring practice actively seeking a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and talents to implementing inclusive policies supporting gender and ethnic inclusivity. 

The world of work has long realised the benefits of a diverse workforce. Consider review the following tips to see if your hiring practices are detrimental to skilled professionals: 


  • Invest in training 

Given the persistent shortages of critical skill sets in the banking and finance sector, it's prudent to explore alternative avenues for finding individuals who meet these demands. Nurturing the necessary skills in both new and current employees through training, upskilling, and career development initiatives, especially in light of ongoing technological advancements, is a strategic move. 

Shifting the focus from job-seeking to skill-mining will also expand the pool of available talent. This is particularly relevant for positions requiring back-office professionals with programming expertise, a skill that might be more prevalent in certain technology-related industries. 

As a lifelong partner to businesses in Hong Kong, Hays is well placed to find the right solutions to your staffing needs. From identifying existing talent to training those with potential, we’re working for your tomorrow to help your organisation succeed in the short and long term. 


/lead-in-the-new-era box

As the world of work evolves, we are here to support you through both the current challenges and your longer-term planning. Discover all our latest insights.

/embrace-the-new-era box

As your lifelong career partner, we are here to help you navigate an evolving world of work – and move forward in your career. Discover all our latest tips, advice and guides.

right block_search for jobs

Looking for a new role? Search here for your ideal job or get in touch with one of our expert consultants.

right block_get in touch

Let's get in touch to find the right talent for your business. Request a call back now.

right block_office locator

Hays has offices across the whole of the globe. Contact us to discuss your employment needs.