Careers in banking and finance are ever-evolving as constant change in Asia's markets creates demand for new skill sets. Whether changes are caused by new technologies, evolving regulations, or an increasingly competitive landscape, it pays to keep track of hiring trends as a barometer for your own career.
So how do you know if your career is future-proof or whether it's time to focus on new horizons? Our latest Hays Quarterly Report shares the recruitment hotspots around the Asian region.
Let's start by looking at China’s accountancy and finance sector, where Chief Financial Officers/Finance Directors are in high demand to help start-up companies set up robust financial systems. Companies operating for five to ten years need financial executives with good connections in capital markets to help them develop and even prepare for a listing on the stock market.
In banking and financial services, internet finance and security firms continue to be busy in China. We have seen many new wholly-owned Chinese enterprises enter the market while other firms enter into joint venture arrangements to offer financial services. These start-ups have created many new job opportunities for traditional banking candidates.
In neighbouring Hong Kong, increased regulations are causing greater hiring activity for HKMA (Hong Kong Monetary Authority) regulatory reporting accountants at all levels from Officer to Vice President. Finance managers with three years of Big 4 experience remain in high demand, as are candidates with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) experience.
In banking and financial services, those with Mandarin skills in compliance/onboarding are in demand by banks with headquarters in China. Regulatory compliance, anti-money laundering (AML), general compliance, and client due diligence candidates are also all in demand.
Turning to Singapore's accountancy firms, top talent is in high demand in a candidate-short market. This is due to the fact that accountants earn more in commerce since fee pressures make it difficult for professional practice firms to compete with large multinational corporations on salary.
Also, perceptions of long hours and high levels of stress can be a deterrent for candidates. Consequently accountants interested in professional practice usually receive multiple offers. In greatest demand are indirect tax professionals, who are rare in Singapore.
Banking in Singapore also continues to be candidate-led with vacancies existing across most of the sector. Those in high demand include compliance professionals with local regulatory experience in handling queries directly from the Monetary Authority of Singapore, internal auditors with subject matter expertise, credit risk analysts with portfolio experience gained working with large corporate clients, and client on-boarding candidates.
Across the board in Malaysia, banks are increasing their front-office trade and cash segments to build platforms for revenue generation. On the back-office side, senior trade finance professionals with CDCS qualifications are highly sought. In the security services area, candidates able to cover fund operation, custody operation (settlement & reconciliation), transfer agency (including corporate action), and trustee operation are highly sought.
Financial controllers are also highly sought in many industries in Malaysia, particularly property development and construction. We are also seeing strong demand for skilled financial directors in the property development sector and also within international companies that are expanding into Asia.
Finally in Japan, candidate shortages include internal audit specialists, financial planning & analysis (FP&A) candidates, and junior staff-level accountants. Demand for internal audit candidates is being driven by the expansion of many companies and their need to have robust compliance processes.
With Japan’s equity market attracting strong levels of investment, the hiring forecast for equity research analysts at both the junior and senior level is very positive for the coming quarter. Experienced compliance officers and audit professionals are being targeted by banks due to the current regulatory environment.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Asian Banking & Finance. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Christine Wright is the Managing Director of Hays in Asia. She has 20 years’ experience in executive recruitment and is currently responsible for the day-to-day management and growth of the businesses in Japan, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and India.