Slower economic conditions around the region are certainly impacting our banks and financial services institutions, but that doesn’t mean hiring & recruitment has come to a complete halt. Organisations still need talent to keep operations running and lead them into new growth areas. This requires talent in different shapes and sizes than previously. Shifting sands just means a shift in focus is required to different functions, roles, or skills to meet current market conditions.
This can be seen in China, where the banking and financial services industry is feeling the effects of the slowdown of the Chinese economy. This is especially so for foreign but also local banks, where the number of vacancies has fallen since Chinese New Year and the recruitment process has become lengthier. On the contrary, banks' shared service centres are doing well and still recruiting, mainly because banks are relocating functions from other countries into China.
Similarly, the hiring of high-level accountancy & finance talent has dwindled in multinational companies although not completely as replacement hiring is still a necessity. In contrast however, we’ve seen recruitment requirements at many local firms, especially public companies, increasing, particularly in buoyant industries such as new energy, pharmaceutical/medical devices, and FMCG.
In Hong Kong the preference towards hiring accountancy & finance contractors or temporary support staff has vastly increased this year as a result of a cautious approach to the economy. An increasing number of foreign and second-tier international banks are consequently reconsidering contractor benefits to ensure they are able to attract and retain high-quality contractors. Such benefits may include a higher number of annual holidays, more attractive medical benefits, and higher completion bonuses.
In Malaysia, the tremendous growth of SMEs has propelled employers to seek the right talent to pursue growth opportunities in this emerging market. It is expected that the country’s economy will continue to be domestically driven and remain fundamentally healthy. This reinforces the need for banks to focus on providing end-to-end financial solutions. Deemed as being more stable and less risky, the focus on private banking and the sale of retail products has grown significantly.
In Singapore we expect an active period of change this quarter for local and regional banks. We have seen many of the larger European banks holding back as they look to reassess their strategies. Some banks have already announced either partial or large-scale withdrawals from Asia, which has opened the door for domestic banks to move quickly to take on some of the excellent talent available in the market.
In Japan the market for accountancy & finance talent will likely remain as active as ever. We see consistency in a high demand for junior, bilingual finance & accountancy professionals, particularly qualified candidates holding a CPA. Junior candidates with experience in a Big 4 firm or overseas are particularly highly valued. Not only does demand from the Big 4 remain high, but over the past quarter we have seen an increase in hiring activities in the manufacturing, consumer goods, and real estate industries, which is expected to continue into the next quarter.
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.