Ask any finance professional to nominate the key challenge the industry faces today, and they'll likely choose complying with tighter legislations and regulations.
With pressure on banks to tighten controls, renew processes, and add more checks, any skill that falls under the corporate governance or controls umbrella, such as compliance and risk, is in high demand right now. In fact, most banks and financial services companies across Asia are adding headcount and strengthening teams in this area.
This is not the only area of vacancy activity though. Hiring activity has also increased as banks slowly regain confidence. So where are employers hiring? Our Hays Quarterly Report of jobs in demand has just been released and here we share the key findings.
Looking firstly at hotspots in China's accounting and finance sector, candidates specialising in Internal Audit and Internal Control will see increased job opportunities this quarter as companies take steps to ensure their operations remain in line with increasing regulatory requirements.
For similar reasons, Compliance Managers are sought. We’re also seeing demand for Commercial Managers, Financial Analysts, Shared Services Centre Managers, and Risk Managers.
Moving to the banking sector, a number of banks are setting up branches and new businesses and so require compliance professionals to obtain the necessary licenses.
In other trends, we have recently seen an increase in venture capitalist (VC) funds and angel funds due to the strong returns these investments generate for investors. As such, Venture Capitalist or Angel Fund Investment Managers are sought.
Meanwhile investment banks are more aware of the skills shortage and are recruiting Investment Banking Research Analysts, with a view to developing them into future business leaders. Corporate Banking Relationship Managers are also sought, as are Securities Service Fund Accountants.
In Hong Kong's financial services sector, Regulatory Reporting Analysts with HKMA experience are sought in response to tighter legislation and regulations. The change in regulations has also created a need for Asset Liability Managers as Chinese banks act to meet the demands of regulators.
Candidates who can look beyond the numbers and see how businesses can be impacted by broader business trends are also increasingly sought after. So too are those with international exposure and both written and spoken Chinese language skills.
Across commerce, Hong Kong employers continue to look for Financial Planning & Analysis Managers who can adapt to fast changing environments and possess strong analytical, interpersonal and communication skills. Internal Auditors are also in demand.
Within the banking sector, Retail and Private Banking Relationship Managers, Bancassurrance Salespeople, Risk Managers, Equities Sales and Sales Trading and Transaction Banking specialists are all sought.
Turning to Singapore's accountancy & finance jobs market, we're seeing demand for experienced Financial Planning & Analysis candidates from organisations that have their regional head offices based in Singapore.
Mid to senior level Financial Accountants are sought for contract roles, and business partnering skills are needed as organisations act to ensure internal stakeholders are part of the decision-making process.
Within professional practice demand exists for Internal Auditors, as well as compliance, individual tax, global mobility, and indirect tax professionals.
Within financial services, pressure on banks to tighten controls, renew processes, and add more checks is creating demand for Internal Auditors, as well as compliance and regulatory reporting talent. Financial Reporting and treasury candidates are also sought.
In Singapore's banking sector, every private bank wants to expand its relationship management team and Relationship Managers with an existing client base are highly sought after.
We're also seeing demand for middle office operations staff as banks replace departing staff. Trade finance operations is another busy area. And of course Compliance Officers and Risk Managers are needed.
In Malaysia there is a steady demand for Financial Controllers and Finance Managers with international experience and regional exposure with genuine multinational companies.
Financial Analysts are also sought after since employers are generally feeling more confident about the outlook for business activity over the next 12 months. Tax and Audit professionals are sought.
Meanwhile, since Kuala Lumpur is a growing regional financial centre, Malaysia's banks are exposed to transnational criminal activity. The Central Bank and Government is trying to curb this activity, which has created significantly increased demand for Anti-Money Laundering and Client Due Diligence compliance professionals.
Within the banking sector we're also seeing a need for Credit and Market Risk Analysts, Derivatives professionals, Corporate Banking Relationship Managers, Corporate Finance professionals, Credit Approvers, and Cash Managers.
Finally in Japan as the outsourcing of basic accounting functions continues, employers are looking for experienced Senior Accountants with good English skills to manage teams abroad. FP&A Business Partners are also finding themselves in demand as companies experience growth and look for candidates to analyse their business and improve profitability.
In the Japanese banking sector we have seen consistent demand from both local and international investment banksfor junior front office staff.
Meanwhile improved market conditions and an increase in risk appetite have led to many securities firms adding resources to strengthen their derivatives middle office/settlements areas. Asset management specialists are also seeing demand for their skills.
As in the rest of Asia, regulatory and compliance specialists are still sought after and there is no sign of demand slowing down anytime soon. Demand for market risk professionals is also rising.
For the majority of the above roles, candidates from abroad find it increasingly difficult to secure a position as employers are looking for candidates with local language skills coupled with recent work experience in the region.
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.